By Gustavo Buenrostro
Wes Craven’s “Scream” turned the horror/ slasher genre on its head and become a staple in horror.
“Scream” is a film about a serial killer going off and killing unsuspecting teenagers. The premise is the same as any other horror film.
The difference, however, is in the execution of the film. Most films before “Scream” would advertise a certain actor or actress for their films as the lead of the film.
“Scream” did the same thing with Drew Barrymore. She was advertised as the lead of the film.
The trailer made it look like she was the main role. Most people would have probably assumed that she would be the sole survivor of the film.
However, once the film started she was in the opening scene and was the first one to go. Even before the title of the film came on screen. This came as a shock to audience members who would’ve expected Barrymore to live.
That was the tone “Scream” set up at the very beginning of the film. It was to show that this is not an ordinary horror film.
Throughout the film, Craven played with many tropes of horror and even played into some of them.
One of the tropes it played with was that there was always only one killer. For the most part, that was true in the film.
It was always the same costume that the killer would wear. But in the end it was revealed it was two killers. This is where the film plays into the tropes.
The audience is made to believe that Sydney’s boyfriend Billy, played by Skeet Ulrich, is an unstable individual and early on the audience believes he is the killer. However, the film makes an alibi for him, clearing suspicion.
The film plays with the audience, stringing them along. This shows not only the film’s brilliance, but Craven’s craftsmanship at work.
In the end, Billy is revealed as one of the killers, along with his friend Stu, played by Matthew Lillard.
The film is also very meta, self-aware of what it is, a horror/slasher film. Randy, played by Jamie Kennedy, knows about the rules of horror films and explains them to the audience as well as the other characters. Every rule that he states the film breaks.
All of these factors made this film memorable and the legacy it left behind made it iconic.
Many films, not just horror, used the same formula that “Scream” created. It was definitely not the first film to be self-aware but it certainly was among the best to do it.
Films started having multiple villains, instead of one central villian.
Characters in “Scream” were not as they seemed and while it took a while for horror films to catch up, horror films gave more complexity and depth to characters.
Give the audience more reason to care if or when that character would die.
Wes Craven created an iconic character in Freddy Krueger, but he made something better than a character in “Scream” where he made an iconic film.