Bloody Disgusting; IMDb; Kindertrauma; Miramax; PopHorror; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
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This came out in 1996. I must have first seen it sometime in the 90s, on VHS. I'm writing this review after watching it on DVD, on Halloween 2018. At the time it was first released, it became a major word-of-mouth hit, and is credited with revitalizing the horror genre. I have to say, I was never really an aficionado of horror (or any of its many subgenres), so on that level, it wasn't as big a deal to me as it was to some people. And I don't think that at the time, the name Wes Craven (the film's director) meant anything to me. Nor, for that matter, did the name Kevin Williamson (the film's screenwriter). Though both names would become somewhat more familiar to me, later on. But at least I was aware of the movie's reputation for rejuvenating the genre, and to some extent redefining it and modernizing it. Of course the movie paid homage to earlier horror films, particularly slasher films. And it's famous for its self-awareness, its genre savvy, its explaining some of the "rules" of the genre. Which probably didn't mean much to me, but that doesn't mean I couldn't appreciate it, even with an outsider's perspective. But beyond all that, I just thought the movie was pretty good on its own merits. It's scary, and it's clever, and it's funny, and... it's got a great soundtrack. Of course I also appreciate it spawning imitators, even if none of them were quite as good as this. Oh... and also, the "Ghostface" mask used in the film was inspired by the famous painting The Scream. So I appreciate whatever interest in art that was inspired by the movie, too. Well, a lot of things about this movie quickly became iconic.
The movie is set in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California. It begins with a girl named Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) getting a phone call from a mysterious stranger, which soon becomes frightening. (This was inspired, I think, by the opening scene from When a Stranger Calls.) It turns out that the caller has taken Casey's boyfriend, Steve, hostage (securing him to a chair outside her house). The caller makes her play a trivia game about horror movies, and eventually ends up killing both Steve and Casey.
The next day, both the police and the press have descended upon the murder victims' high school, looking for possible leads concerning the killer. (The school's principal, Mr. Himbry, is played by Henry Winkler.) The main character in the film is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), whose own mother had been murdered a year ago. She has a boyfriend named Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), a best friend named Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan). Tatum's boyfriend is Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard), who I would say is seriously annoying. And the group of friends also includes a guy named Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), who is a major fan of horror movies. Also, Tatum's older brother, Dewey (David Arquette), is a deputy sheriff, whom no one takes very seriously. Another important character is a TV reporter named Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who has a book coming out soon about the murder of Sidney's mother. She believes the man convicted of the crime, Cotton Weary, is innocent, despite Sidney's having testified against him. So Sidney really doesn't like Gale. But Gale does become close to Dewey, at first as a means of getting close to the current investigation of Casey and Steve's murders. But I think she does eventually come to genuinely like him.
Well... I'm not sure how much more I actually want to say about the plot. Of course the Ghostface killer continues to stalk people, especially Sidney. (I rather like how he always seems to get hurt to some degree by his intended victims, whether or not he ultimately manages to kill them. It's just nice to know that such killers aren't necessarily impervious to counterattacks or self defense from their victims.) I also want to say it was nice that it had been so long since I saw the film that when I re-watched it, I had no idea who the killer was, so I could be surprised by it, when it was finally revealed. (Sometimes a poor memory is a blessing.) Anyway... it's just a really cool movie.