SPOILERS AHEAD. BEWARE ALL WHO ENTER HERE!
Scream is to horror movies what Pulp Fiction is to crime movies or just bad ass movies in general. It changed everything. Instead of clueless teens we now have self aware teens who know the rules. We had for a time real living breathing killers instead of supernatural beings. We have gone back to the supernatural elements in films like Insidious and Paranormal Activity. It sorta works, but there is some joy lost by no longer having the who done it. We also now have the twist ending of multiple killers. If we don’t get it, we are lead to believe there is more than one killer. Scream’s sequels made fun of the slasher sequels as well, but with lesser effect til we got to a fourth film even I, a big fan of the franchise, did not see. So, when MTV decided to option the series, I was leery. I may have gotten around to seeing it eventually, but I doubt it. When Wes Craven passed away, I decided to give it a chance. This will be his last project, a project almost twenty years ago helped people remember why he is one of the masters of horror cinema.
Upfront there is no Sydney, no Gale Weathers or even a Woodsboro. There is also no Ghostface. Instead we get Surgical Face. The killer wears a surgical mask that helped a person by the name of Brandon James keep his face together as he battled Elephantiasis. Brandon apparently went on a killing spree for his love, Daisy. Daisy convinced Brandon to meet her by a dock where the police shot him dead in front of her. This happened in the 90s of course. So, we fast forward to meet our new Scream cast.
Emma is our new heroine whose Mom was Daisy, but goes by Maggie now. Emma is the focus of the killer or killers’ plan. We have the jocks, Jake, Tyler and Will. Will is dating Emma for a short period of time. There are the rich bitches in Brooke, Reilly and Nina. Nina gets the Drew Barrymore treatment to start it off. Its not as effective as the first Scream, but that scene is routinely listed in the top ten or twenty scares of all time. There was no way they were going to top it, so they homage it. Then we have our outcasts in Audrey and Noah. Audrey starts the show off by being filmed making out with her girlfriend, Rachel. The video goes straight to YouTube, gotta love social media and teenage douchebagery. We also get the mysterious Kieran. Yeah that is his name, I think. He is the lost son of the local Sheriff who is dating Maggie. Then we get this podcaster named Piper, who..shows up to investigate the murders for her mystery show. For the record, I will not investigate vigilantism for our show. We also have a Mr. Benson who is having an affair with Brooke.
Noah is our resident Jamie Kennedy character from the Scream films. I adore that character and his death in Scream 2 is probably where they lost the fan base or at least me. I mean David Arquette is right there just be killed for three films. Anyway, Noah gives us the fairly good reason why a TV version of Scream would work better than a movie. Instead of 90 minutes to know our characters, we have a whole season to get the know the characters thus their deaths will mean more. That is good in theory, but in fact we have to wait and see if its true. Eventually, Nina’s murder is pinned on Tyler, but we, the audience, knows Tyler is dead, because we saw the killer throw his head at Nina. The cops and everyone go after Tyler who keeps texting the kids especially Reilly. Reilly could have been an interesting character. She is a secret nerd who is ready to nail Noah when Tyler texts her. The cops and Emma convince her to lay a trap for Tyler. Remember when I said Reilly could have been interesting. She is killed in the police station by Surgical Face. Tyler’s car is burned to the ground and he has no head when the police find his body.
Emma is taunted by the killer through the entire ordeal. I am sure you believe you know who the murder is since this is Scream. Emma has a boyfriend who has another friend. Of course, its them. Will and Jake are scumbags. They as well as Tyler and Nina are blackmailing everyone including Brooke’s Mayor Dad in town using some magical malware. Emma find this out, dumps Will and heads straight for Keiran or Kieran..I have no fucking clue where they got that name. Will tries to do the right thing by Mayor Dad, but that gets him captured. The crew rescues him at a bowling alley where Brandon James worked. Jake and Will are stabbed, but not fatally. Again like Scream one, but this time around the killer brutally murders Will in front of Emma with a giant farm saw later in the episode. Its pretty bloody good. Kill of the show really.
Now, we are down to the rest of the cast where everyone minus Emma looks guilty at one point in time. Even Audrey’s girl, Rachel, is killed when it looks to be suicide. Everyone is a suspect and everyone lost someone. So, it becomes muddled which is good. Audrey and Noah finger Mr. Benson when they find the murder weapon in his office and figure out the magical malware came from his List-Server. He also changed his name and may have killed a girl like Brooke. This is closed right? Right?
The real meat of the middle is what is Maggie’s big secret or secrets. Let me state now, that the acting in this thing goes from good to why its on MTV. Primary from the adults if you can believe it. The actress playing Maggie couldn’t be less forthcoming or interesting even though the entire mystery really centers around her relationship with Brandon. A relationship that gave birth to a child which is why Emma has no Dad around. It also brings up another point at the end of the series I want to get to. Emma finds all this stuff out in the course of the series yet she never asks her Mom upfront what the fuck was really going on when her Mom was her age. Its weird.
The big finale of course happens at a big party at a rich house ala the first Scream. The Sheriff is killed away from the party after Mr. Benson escapes prison. So, its up to the kids to survive which they do. No joke, all of the kids survive. Emma eventually confronts the killer at the dock where Brandon James was killed. In a surprise twist, its Piper the podcaster. Which gives my profession/hobby a bad name. She is the daughter that got left behind by Maggie. The girls have a knife fight ala monkeys. It ends when Audrey shows up, shots Piper off the dock and then in typical Scream fashion Piper comes back only for Emma to head shot her dead. So, that is it. The mysterious Kieran…Klingon whatever his name is, who at one point looked guilty as hell is actually the good guy. He and Emma are now an item. Jake and Brooke get together even though Jake is a blackmailing asshole. The nerds survive even commenting that it ended like Noah said how it would end with the sun coming up and the heroine in the back of an ambulance leaving for safety. Pretty simple right…
No. In an M. Night twist, we see Piper and Audrey were mailing each other letters. Very detailed letters that included where Emma should have died. This will lead into season two of course. If there is a season two. Minus why did Audrey do it question and why did she allow Piper to be stopped at times, the big question is who the fuck murdered all those people in the past??!! Through the entire series we get massive clues that Brandon was more than likely not the murder. So, who was it? Emma’s Dad or her Mom…the Sheriff?!! I have no clue and I am going out on a limb and saying unless Audrey is a timelord or has a Delorean that goes 88 MPH in her garage neither do the creators.
Is this good TV? I am going with a slight yes. Is it Scream? Maybe. Yes, all the characters are there in some fashion, Emma is a bit more ballsy than Sydney in the first film, but she is not Neve Campbell. Neve nailed Syd. Like stone cold nailed that character and was one of the few believable things as the franchise went on. Why Syd went into acting Scream 2? No clue. Honestly, a lot of Scream 2 makes no sense. Scream 3 Syd is a better character where she wants to help people and is a shut in. That makes sense thus why Scream 3 is superior to 2. Which is what this show is. Its Scream 3.They steal the abounded child out for revenge storyline from Scream 3. I liked Scream 3 except for that moment. Yet, here on the show I am sort of ok with it. Does it explain why Maggie doesn’t say anything about it til episode eight of a ten episode series though? Hell no.
Hopefully, season two they abounded that plot and move back to the scary movie plot. We do get the scary voice changer which is cool, but its weird hearing the killer say Emma and not Sydney. There is also no horror riddle games which made the films awesome. Its also a bit of stretch that a group of kids for months were fighting the killer or killers while the cops were useless. In the original Scream it happened in the course of days and they original caught the right guy only no one saw the two killers angle coming. No one regardless of what anyone online says. I saw it on opening night and everyone was fucking shocked when it was revealed. Yet, everything else sorta works. You do care about most of the cast especially Noah, Audrey and Emma. The rest not so much. Yet, half is better than none.
After re-watching the movie series for Halloween this year, I still think this show a bit more. The first Scream holds up really well, but Scream 2 and even Scream 3 seem to be all over the place. Scream 2 is a very weird film mainly due to the multiple re-writes. The original script is online where it turns out that Sydney’s boyfriend and roommate were in on it. They were emailing back and forth when they found each other on a message board. Something the TV used for their ending. The ending comes with Cotton and Syd killing each other. I think my main problem with Scream 2 is Cotton. He really should have been the killer from the beginning and even in the completed film, it takes Syd making a deal with him to be on Diane Sawyer to get him to kill Mrs. Loomis. I also think Syd having a boyfriend in Scream 2 is weird considering the last one tried to murder her. It really is up to Gayle and Dewey to carry parts of the film in Scream 2. They carry all of Scream 3 which introduces a bunch of actors just to be used as knife bait. They also admit killing Randy was a bad idea in Scream 3 to the point they bring him back via video. The good thing about the TV show so far is they have not made the mistake of killing a character who fans like and is knowledgeable enough to survive.
At the end, I am biased. Like I said I saw Scream on opening night. It was the first horror film I saw in a theater. It will always be in my top five horror clicks next to Jaws, Exorcist, Halloween and Dracula. I want to cheer for the show, because it does make sense to bring slasher horror mystery back to TV. You do need time to flesh out the characters and they did do a good job of making you second guess everyone. My big complaint minus who the fuck did the original killing, is the most of the cast shouldn’t have survived this thing even if you knew you were getting a second season. Jake or Brooke or even K-Guy should have been goners at the end. Still, they can bite it in season two. As a Wes Craven project, its good. Its actually amazingly good at times when it works. I am sure he would be proud of it. Rest in Power, Wes. Your work lives on as long as people are afraid to go to sleep or pick up their phones with an unknown number.