My Favorite Wes Craven Memories
I'm an anxious person; I cover my eyes during Shark Week commercials, sprint up my basement stairs after turning the lights out and would definitely use a friend as a shield in a haunted house (if you even managed to drag me inside in the first place). Naturally I surprised myself when I not only sat through Wes Craven's Scream for the first time, but really enjoyed it! Since that afternoon (you think I watched it for the first time at night? As if!), it's become one of my all-time favorites.
Like Wes's other scary movies (can you say A Nightmare on Elm Street?), Scream isn't your average masked-figure-wielding-a-weapon flick. Instead, Scream takes years and years of horror movie cliches and splatters them onto a fresh canvas, making a smart, chaotic, and yes, SCARY, new film. At its core, this movie is self-reflective: a scary movie whose characters talk about scary movies! Even mock them!
"What's your favorite scary movie?" Ghostface loves to ask his victims. Sidney Prescott, the female lead (played by Neve Campbell), rolls her eyes and replies into her hilariously-bulky '90s telephone, "What's the point? They're all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl...who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It's insulting." In the beginning, Drew Barrymore's character cries, "Who's there?" and Ghostface snaps, "Never say, 'Who's there?' Don't you watch scary movies? It's a death wish."
The late Roger Ebert said it perfectly in his original 1996 review of Scream: "The movie itself, for all of its ironic in-jokes, also functions as a horror film...that uses as many clichés as it mocks." It's smart, but it uses its tireless cliches to its advantage, making you scream and laugh all at once.
What I maybe love the most about the movie isn't even the movie itself, but its director, Wes Craven. One might think that a scary movie that mocks itself (before the Scary Movie series even started, too!), would be directed by a critic of the genre, but instead, it was brought to life by one of the genre's most beloved figures. Through Scream, he celebrated the genre that made him who he was, and will be remembered for, and that is what I like most of all.