So I went and saw Scream 4 a few days ago. I went to the 2:05 showing, and other than an older man and woman, whom I suspect weren’t functioning with full decks, I was the only one in the theater. This had to be one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had at the movies. I absolutely loved the film! It was definitely the second best of the series, and the countless times I heard “Oh shit!” coming from the couple behind me was an indication they too were having a good time.
It seems to me that before Scream (1996) was released in theaters, the slasher film was almost nonexistent in the 90s. Mainstream horror itself, with but few exceptions, was faring poorly throughout the decade. Scream helped revitalize the genre, simple as that. The film helped open the gates to the horror revival fans have enjoyed within this last decade and introduced a new antihero known as Ghostface.
I remember going to see it after church when it had first come out back in 1996. During those days I was very involved with Christian activities and wasn’t paying too much attention to the genre I once held so dear to my heart. Scream was a sort of catalyst for returning to the dark side. The last showing of the night was I think around ten o’clock and my mother had adamantly expressed her disapproval of me going to watch such a violent film right after church. I think I was going on eighteen and remember stating that I was old enough to make my own decisions, so she didn’t push the issue too hard, except to let me know that she had called dad and he wanted me home by midnight.
Though I was pressed for time, a few friends from youth group and I went to witness the rebirth of the whodunit slasher film. Being a late showing, and due to the film having been in theaters for a couple weeks already, there were only a few other people in the theater. The experience was incredible. I remember how stressed I was about making it home before midnight, but that didn’t keep me from having a great time. It was such a thrill to hear my friends scream like children, and the image of Drew Barrymore’s character getting butchered at the beginning of the film will forever be ingrained in my psyche.
It had been a long time since I’d seen a film so violent and creative. At that time, before the horror boom of the 2000s, I hadn’t seen any of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacres (1974-1994), and I had only viewed a few of the original Halloween (1978-1995) and Friday the 13th (1980-1993) films. I had never seen Hell Night (1981) starring Linda Blair and featuring the surprise killer, so Scream was an experience that was wholly new to me. It was a horror film that called out the clichés of the genre and glorified them, even though Rofle Kanefsky's little known gem There’s Nothing Out There (1992) had done it four years earlier. After the movie was over I left the theater, got in my car (after checking the backseat), and made it home by 12:05 am. My parents weren’t waiting up. That night was a defining moment in my pathetic little life.
So over a decade later it’s good to see the return of a franchise that spawned so many imitations and parodies. At the turn of the century teenage slasher films were popping up every other month, and I made sure to make it to the theater for both Scream sequels (1997 good, 2000 bad), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and its sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), Urban Legend (1998), Disturbing Behavior (1998), The Faculty (1998), Halloween H20 (1998), and many others created in the wake of a classic. And when Scream 5 comes around, I’ll be sure to see it in the theater as well. Amen.