Release date: December 20, 1996

Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Drew Barrymore, Roger Jackson, Kevin Patrick Walls, David Booth, Carla Hatley, Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich

It's not too often that a film comes along and sparks a whole new outlook on the genre it represents, but SCREAM did just that. Several other teen slasher flicks surfaced afther the wake of its success, putting a Generation X stamp on the characters and hiring teen prime time drama icons to portray them.

It's also very ironic too, because SCREAM, written by Kevin Williamson Kevin Smith (I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty), was a parody of typical slasher flicks. During the course of the movie, the characters make fun of "traditional" horror movies like Friday the 13th or Halloween, but plot of SCREAM itself follows almost the exact formula of the movies it was supposedly making fun of, showing us exactly what the characters were talking about.

Our main character is high school senior Sidney Prescott (Neve Cambell). Before the events of the film, Sid's mother is murdered and the man she was having an affair with, Cotton Weary Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) is sent to prison for life for the crime thanks to Sid's testimony in court.

When a killer strikes Woodsboro and slaughters Casey Backer (Drew Barrymore) as well as her boyfriend, the community is gripped in fear. Sid's father has to leave town on a business trip, and soon after Sid receives weird phone calls from the killer, who knows a lot about Sid's mother.

When the sheriff is also killed, the local deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) is left to the investigations, as well as keeping nosy reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) away from the murder scene.

I could tell you more of the plot, but it's essentially just more chase-and-kill on behalf of the killer(like your "typical" slasher flick). Yet somehow Director Wes Craven manages to make a lot of it look original and entertaining. Some of that may be because of the fresh young faces or to the updated camera techniques, but I'd have to say it's probably mostly because of the writing. While the murderer on the phone plot device was used better in Black Christmas, the seductive quality of the killer's voice (Roger L. Jackson) in SCREAM gives it a different appeal and suits the tone of the film quite well. Some of the murders are typical (Barrymore's short role in the movie), while others are pretty clever (keep an eye on the news cameraman in the van).

Probably the best part of the writing, is the way in which different characters are made out to be the killer. Rather than a big creepy guy or a supernatural enemy chasing down the kids, we know the killer is a person and probably somebody who is close to Sid. It could be film fanatic Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), the know-it-all that applies the rules of horror filmdom to the murders. It could be the asshole of the bunch, Stuart Macher (Matthew Lillard). And it could even be Sid's sensitive but still tough boyfriend, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). Even Sid's father is suspected at one point.

In the end a good flick with some a lot of thrills and even a little dark humor. The action is intense, and the ending, if somewhat predictable by the time you get there, is still entertaining. It set the new trend for a good reason.

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