While it intermittently tries to poke fun at horror movie conventions, SCREAM ends up being just as conventional. A standard beginning has a teenage girl (Drew Barrymore) receiving a threatening phone call from someone lurking outside her house. Eventually she and her boyfriend are brutally murdered, but not before this killer tests her knowledge of movies like HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH. That's the premise of this film, as characters talk about the tenets of the horror genre while living through, and dying in, their own terrifying tale. Most attention is focused on teenager Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), whose testimony helped convict a man for murdering her mother a year ago. But she receives a call from the mystery killer, who takes credit for the crime and tries to make Sidney his next victim. The first suspect, Sidney's boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich), is quickly exonerated, sending the town into panic mode and attracting tabloid TV reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox). Several teens get together to watch horror movies and the killer crashes the party, with deadly consequences. SCREAM offers some thrills, but it's not nearly as clever as it aspires to be. If this movie had talked about horror clichs and then contradicted them every step of the way, it might have been interesting.
One thing SCREAM definitely doesn't avoid is offensive elements. The film features continuous violence, as many people are assaulted and several are killed by bloody knife attacks and gun shots. A woman is crushed by a garage door and a man is electrocuted. Sidney is shown beginning to take off her clothes for Billy, and sex by this young, unmarried couple is implied. Foul language includes many crude words, five dozen obscenities and 15 instances of God's name used in vain. The only thing worth screaming about is why horrible horror films like this continue to be made.
Miramax Films/Dimension Films, 375 Greenwich, New York, NY 10013
Many (27) times - Mild 8, Moderate 19
Many (60) times - F-word 28, s-word 26, other 6
Many (22) times - Regular 15 (J 7, GD 3, G 2, JC 2, for C's sake 1), Exclamatory 7
Many times - Moderate and Severe (eviscerations, assaults, stabbings and slashings with gory wounds, shootings, car accident, woman crushed by garage door, man electrocuted)
None, but near nudity with young woman in underwear
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog:
Teenage boy makes sexual advances towards teenage girl, teenage girl begins undressing, passionate kissing
Cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking
Teens and young adults
Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)