Scream (1996)
By: J.R. McNamara on March 19, 2010  | 
Icon | Region Free | 2.35:1 | DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 | 111 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard
Screenplay: Kevin Williamson
Country: USA
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What can be said about Wes Craven's Scream that hasn't been said before? When it was released it reinvigorated the horror genre, which had been suffering since the close of the 80s. At the beginning of the 90s, it looked like it was going to be a dry decade for horror with even horror movie magazine Fangoria having to put films like Batman Returns and Jurassic Park on its cover. What was so incredibly amusing was that the sub-genre that made horror cool again, was exactly what caused it to fall apart in the first place: the slasher.

It has been said many times that the reason the early 90s were so devoid of horror was that we had OD'd on bad sequels and copies, and that slashers were the main offenders. People these days complain about remakes, but if you have ever sat through Friday the 13th Part 8 or  Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, you'd think twice about just how bad they are.

Scream however came as a breath of fresh air, with a good looking young cast and clever, self-aware script that thrilled and entertained. I admit that I was not impressed when I first saw it but that may have been because I was over horror as well, and saw it with arms folded and eyes rolled. The time since I saw it last has been a good break from it as I now appreciate it for the clever film it is.

Scream takes place in the quiet town of Woodsboro, which has been rocked by the slaughter of Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) and her boyfriend Steve (Kevin Patrick Walls). The one who seems to be the most affected is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) whose mother had been murdered almost exactly 12 months earlier.

The town becomes a media circus, and one of the reporters is Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) who had been the main journalist on Sidney's mother's murder, and who disbelieves Sidney's testimony that put her mother's lover Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) on death row.

Anyway, of course the murders continue, and Sidney and her friends Tatum (Rose MacGowan), Billy (Skeet Ulrich), Stu (Matthew Lillard) and Randy (Jamie Kennedy) start to become both victim and potential threat. Tatum's brother Deputy 'Dewey' Riley (David Arquette) investigates, but is he, too, a suspect? Well of course he is…. EVERYBODY is! The question is though, are these murders somehow related to Sidney's mother's death 12 months ago? The disappearance of her father may make that seem true…

There is no doubt this is a really well cast and scripted movie, and Craven's direction is spot on. He gets great performances from all the cast, and some of the cameos, like Linda Blair, an extended one form Henry Winkler and Craven himself as 'Fred' the janitor, are fabulous. This film was also cleverly made insomuch as it was instantly accessible to the non-horror fan, but the horror fan gets something special out of it with all of the winks and nudges offered.

Kevin Williamson's script caused a bidding war when it first appeared in Hollywood, and rightly so. It is an incredibly clever script that walks the tightrope between serious horror and outright parody with ease.

I cannot go without saying how incredibly gorgeous the female leads on this film were. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Rose MacGowan and Drew Barrymore all looked the best that any of them have ever looked in their careers, and every time any of them was on screen, it was a delight.
Well, I must admit to still being somewhat of a newcomer to the world of Blu-ray, so I am still fairly easily impressed by the quality of the picture. As one would expect, the picture suffers from a slight grain, but for the image to be as sharp as what it is, it has to. This film is offered in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
This is an amazing sounding film. It is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and I have to admit to hearing things on this film I never heard before. Just the occasional subtle nuance, like the music playing in Tatum's bedroom, add so much to the aural texture of the film, and make it far more effective in the more thrilling scenes.
Extra Features
Unfortunately, the producers of this disc have found that we, the fans of horror cinema, don't deserve any extras, and so have provided us with sweet bugger all. Up yours, Scream fans, you obviously deserve nothing…. Not even a crappy trailer. This disappointed me incredibly as even the DVD Magna Pacific release has a decent set of extras, so why couldn't they have been transferred over, not to mention the fact that it has been over ten years since this film was released, so why not a mini retrospective doco about it. A thoroughly dissatisfying release in this aspect.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Scream certainly isn't Craven's greatest film (how could one really top A Nightmare on Elm Street?) but it does what movies are supposed to do: it entertains. I admit to being a detractor of this film when I first saw it, but having not seen it for a while, I find that I have a whole new appreciation of it. It is a damn shame that this excellent Blu-ray release has been let down by a lack of extras.

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