Scream was released in 1996 and it was a breath of fresh air for a genre that had gotten repetitive, boring and predictable. The movie (which currently has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes) is smart, funny, self-aware and of course filled with the typical over the top slasher style kills the horror genre is known for. I remember watching it in theaters and then talking about it for weeks with friends afterwards.
Fast forward a few years and someone had the bright idea to turn the horror franchise into a television series. I had initially skipped over it and dismissed it thinking that it was going to be boring, bland and too made for TV. I was flipping through Netflix recently and came across Scream and being bored, decided there would be worse ways to kill an hour and decided to give it a try.
After the first episode my initial reaction was yep, they sure screwed this up. Yet, there was something about the show that had me give it another chance and I’m glad I did because despite its flaws, it’s a pretty decent TV series that I think fans of slasher films or the Scream movies will enjoy.
In the pilot episode we are introduced to the cast of characters many of which are lifted to some degree from the original Scream movie. You have Emma who is the star of the show and the one the killer is toying with (the Sydney), Noah is the geeky, serial killer obsessed one (the Randy) the bros (the Billy and Stuart’s who were the killers in the original) and the list goes on and on. It’s been updated of course to make use of text messages, viral videos, memes and instead of a journalist you get a podcaster but it is overall a fairly faithful carbon copy of the movie. We also get to see the first murder and it happens to the bitchy popular girl who we find out really is a terrible person and of course this ensures that the list of suspects is everyone.
The pilot episode was good but nothing spectacular and I was skeptical about continuing but the second episode had me hooked. Here we find out more about how awful a person the first victim was, the podcaster arrives to tell the story and we learn more about the secret past of the town and how the killer may be copying what happened in the past. We get a bit more information about the police chief (who is not the comic relief as he is in Scream), the new kid (who they desperately try and make look like the killer) and more about the past killings and the show ends on cliffhanger with the killer playing a game with Emma.
This is where the series ended up digging its hook into me as I suddenly wanted to know more about the history of the town, I started caring what might happen to these characters and I desperately wanted to know who the actual killer was.
Overall the series while slow to start has picked up speed and has me wondering what’s next. The story is of course a retread of what we seen on screen in Scream 1 but it’s familiar and has a nostalgia to it that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. The updates to the show with the podcaster, mobile devices everywhere and the technology give Scream a modern feel but still maintain that comfort that I loved about the original movies.
That’s the good, now for the bad.
One of the reasons I had troubles getting into the series initially was that the acting was very wooden and stale. The chemistry between characters seems forced and non-existent with the bright spot being between Audrey (the goth dressing lesbian) and Noah (the wisecracking computer nerd) and their friendship and story is more interesting at first than that of Emma. There are also some cringe-worthy dialogue moments and exchanges that are almost painful to listen to, let alone watch and finally there are some acting moments that scream out and draw attention to themselves which pull you from the story.
Being done with the first season I don’t want to give anything away as a show with a mystery should be watched and uncovered by the viewer, but I will say that the kill in Episode 7 is extremely gnarly, unique and one of the more inventive I’ve seen in a slasher film.
If you like slasher films, the horror genre or have fond memories of the Scream movie franchise then I would recommend at least giving season 1 of the Scream TV series a try, but you may have to give it a few episodes before settling into it. If you give up after the first episode you will miss out on what does become a good little horror story that despite having a few flaws and being a little rough around the edges is fun and engaging.
I give Scream Season 1 a 7 out of 10.