Scream: The Series
By Danny S. Warren
When the original Scream debuted in 1996, it single-handedly revived the slasher genre, ushering in a new era of teenagers getting chopped up by crazy killers in masks. Now, with a new trend in turning movies into TV Shows, MTV is boldly trying to usher in a new era of horror. Can they succeed?
We start off with a viral video of a young high-schooler named Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) being caught making out with another girl. A short montage shows the message spreading quickly until nearly everyone in her high school knows about it. Before you can flip the channel out of fear that you might be lectured about cyber-bullying, the atmosphere changes, and we are in a horror movie. Two of Audrey’s peers, who were behind the video caper, sit and brag about it to no one but themselves. The boy, Tyler (Anthony Rogers), takes the opportunity to get inside the girl’s…. home (her parents are not there, of course. Where do suburbanites go all the time?) but the girl, Nina, quickly shuts him down, letting him know that she only used him for his technical expertise. Nina leaves Tyler to his own devices and goes inside her swank mansion; that was apparently designed by Tony Stark, going by how many voice controlled options the smart house has. It is here that it finally dips into the good old Scream territory of the opening kill, which was self-mocked in the fourth movie ad nauseam. And, MTV lets you know what channel you’re watching by mixing in some pop tunes to help set the scene (Katy Perry’s Darkhorse works perfectly!). As Nina prepares to go for a lonely hot tub dip, she begins receiving messages from Tyler’s phone. When videos of her from inside the house start blowing up her phone, Nina responds with the kind of alarm you’d expect, which is not nearly enough. Assuming her suitor is flirting in the creepiest manner possible, Nina goes ahead and climbs in the hot tub and has a relaxing time up until Tyler’s head splashes down next to her. She tries to run, but this is the Scream franchise and her smart house isn’t smart enough to save her. When the mask is revealed, we see that this is not the same Ghostface we have grown accustomed to, but a different beast entirely, letting us know that the series is a whole new ball game.
As for everything else, it’s all there, including the awkward creepy meta guy who acts as sort of a narrator; pointing out all the classic signs one will find when they are in a horror film. At times, it feels like the character of Noah Fletcher (John Karna, trying REALLY hard to convince us that we miss Eric Forman and failing) goes a little out of his way to point out the trope. As an audience member, I find this insulting. This is Scream; I know what to look for, and you are no Randy. Therein lies a flaw (possibly on purpose) that all of the “circle of friends” characters are just dusted off versions of the originals. We have Sydney, Stu, Billy Loomis, and even Tatum. Since the franchise is notorious for its slight of hand on cliché, this is forgivable for now, so long as the characters grow and develop over the next few weeks and do not remain cookie cutters of the original gang.
To mix things up a bit, a new Friday the 13th like legend is introduced to the cannon. The legend tells of a disfigured boy who loved a girl, was rejected by the girl, got beat up by the girl’s jock friends, and went on a killing spree until his love was used to trap him. He was last seen taking a bullet and falling in the lake 20 years ago. Body never recovered, of course. Conveniently, the girl he loved happens to be the mother of our pure of heart virgin, Emma. Neat.
The pilot episode spends the rest of the time giving motive and opportunity for every character, being heavy handed in its claim that nobody is safe and no one is innocent. The white-wash of characters, the SoCal feel, and the conflict of social class kind of gives the show this Veronica Mars feel, only instead of hunting down “who shamed the awkward girl”, Veronica is hunting a fucking serial killer. In total, it bounces around from being a tween show to being an adult show, and the acting can be so wooden that a static shock can start a cast fire. However, when you hear that voice on the phone, you know you are in Scream, and you know it’s going to keep you guessing until the very end. I will be tuned to every episode, and I hope you will be too.
3.5 out of 5 Skulls
“Killer Party” Official promo video
Official Trailer: Scream (TV Series 2015)