Scream Review

Someone is killing teenagers in a small town, beginning with Casey (Drew Barrymore). Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who is still getting over the rape and murder of her mother the year before, feels she may be next.

The twist in Kevin Williamson's screenplay is that the characters have watched as many horror movies as the audience has, and are just as aware of the conventions. This is a film aimed squarely at genre aficionados, and its originality consists of the way it plays variations on those conventions. "Here comes the obligatory tit shot," says one character watching a horror film on TV, and we cut away to Sidney about to lose her virginity (and hence become liable to die according to the genre rules). This being made in the PC Nineties, and the cast made up of familiar TV names rather than unknowns, the film lacks the gratuitous nudity of the films it comments upon – and, fortunately, their misogyny as well. Sidney is an appealing, resourceful heroine and most of the cast are solid, except Matthew Lillard, very irritating as one of Sidney's school mates. Henry Winkler appears uncredited as the school principal and look out for Craven himself, in heavy disguise as the janitor.

Like film was shot in Scope, a first for Craven. He shows some inventiveness in using parts of the frame, though inevitably has to keep TV cropping in mind. The disc is in the correct ratio, but that's one of the few things that has been done right. The picture is non-anamorphic: it's colourful but rather soft, with some noticeable artefacting. The night scenes are considerably overlit, but that's the fault of the original film. The soundtrack, with sudden noises and rumbles of thunder on the surround channels, does a good job of keeping the viewer on edge. There are no extras whatsoever, not even a trailer, and the number of chapter stops is a miserly sixteen. When you compare this to the standard Region 1 version (which contains a commentary, a featurette, a trailer and behind-the-scenes footage), let alone the R1 collector's edition, and you realise why R2 discs originally had a bad name.

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