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Scream (1996)

Dont Answer The Phone. Dont Open The Door. Dont Try To Escape.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 111 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


At a picturesque high school campus in Somewheresville USA, something’s not right – and it’s not just that all of the pupils appear to be in their mid-to-late 20s. No, a knife-wielding maniac is on the loose and, for one student in particular (Sidney, played by Neve Campbell), that can only mean bad news. Unless she enjoys being perennially stalked by a homicidal nutter in a Paul Daniels mask, that is. Not a lot!

From director Wes Craven, the man who helmed the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise and a squillion other gore-fests, this is the movie that finally dragged the horror genre kicking and screaming into the nineties (better six years late than never).

What’s so special about this one? Well, it’s still got all the old clichés, from the victim who just can’t seem to make a decent attempt at escaping to the sudden jolts of music accompanying nothing in particular. The difference with ‘Scream’ is its shameless self-awareness. The characters openly discuss what you should and shouldn’t do in a horror movie situation – most memorably video geek Randy (Jamie Kennedy) with his droning drunken speeches about the “rules” of the genre. Talk about spoiling things for everyone else at a party, eh?

What makes ‘Scream’ stand-out is that it somehow manages to be both clever and stupid at the same time. It’s original in its premise and shows a dedication to breaking the boundaries normally strictly adhered to on the horror circuit – yet, at the same time, the characters end up seeming just as witless as the stereotypes they mock, and the number of gaping plot-holes verges on the ridiculous.

Essentially though, what it all makes for is an enjoyable, rejuvenated brand of slasher flick. The shock tactics work (particularly the very first one), it’s fantastically paced, and there’s some great casting (Henry “The Fonz” Winkler plays the headmaster, Courtney Cox runs about in the background as a snooping trash-journo, and nobody does annoying pratt quite like Matthew Lillard). You may well scream while you’re watching (I didn’t – I’m far too tough. Grr), but you’ll also have a good time.

It's Got: Henry Winkler demonstrating how NOT to hold a pair of scissors. Still, at least he doesn’t run with them. (By the way, did anyone ever see that episode of ‘Happy Days’ where the Fonz goes blind so the rest of the gang take his motorbike to pieces and force him to put it back together again? Genius, absolute genius).

It Needs: A killer who insists on phoning his victims despite being right outside their homes and within easy reach of the doorbell.

DVD Extras Audio commentary from John – sorry, I mean Wes – Craven, trailers, production featurette, two sets of behind-the-scenes footage, a better-than-usual special effects gallery, Q&A with the cast and crew, some “Did You Know”s, and cast and crew bios. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!! (That’s supposed to represent a scream, in case you’re wondering.)