By now, it’s common to see horror on TV. Specifically, American Horror Story has managed to take both the gore and terrifying suspense of the best thriller and horror films and bring it to the longer TV format. Slasher films are a very different dynamic, however, and it’s no surprise that it took longer for them to appear. This past summer, Scream: The TV Series arrived on MTV (and now Netflix), and Fox premiered their own version: Scream Queens.
The Scream films are immensely successful, satirizing the slasher genre and poking fun at the conventions we all know so well. Luckily, the TV series managed to rekindle those comic undertones, yet still provide a scare. With ten 40 minutes episodes in season one, and another season already ordered, Wes Craven and company had a big task in stretching the 90 minute movie concept of a few days into a larger killing spree of a few weeks. There are only so many characters you can introduce before it gets too complex, and only so many to kill off before you have to wrap up.
I was impressed with how this season handled itself within the genres of teen drama and horror, creating a few great moments. Some were reminiscent of the original movies, while others firmly brought the show into our technological generation. Here are my top five moments of season one:
- The opening murder scene. It’s a pivotal moment in all scary movies. How do they handle the first death? What makes the killer unique, iconic, scary? Is it believable and does it create suspense, or has our fear already worn off? Thankfully, this show did it right. Drew Barrymore’s death in the first Scream is frightful but occasionally silly, and it immediately sets the tense tone for the rest of the film. This scene provided the immediate connection to the original, but refreshed it for today’s audience. There’s no taunting phone call, instead it’s videos of the victim sent via cellphone. And our introduction to the killer provides our first look of the new mask. The original Ghostface isn’t scary anymore, not since Scary Movie poked fun, but this one is chilling. I wouldn’t go so far as saying lifelike, but it’s reminiscent of a real face enough that when it appears from the darkness it’s name makes sense.
- The horror-savvy character, Noah. Randy was a pivotal character for the Scream franchise. You can’t have such a successful critique of the slasher genre without somebody who knows the ins and outs of these movies. Adding an interest in real serial killers made him even more interesting. Is he taking a page out of their books because he’s a psychopath as well, or is he just another fascinated teenager? Plus, making him the only virgin is a great way to remove the virginity rule from existence, and turn it into a silly construct.
- The wealth of female characters. These movies always focus on a main girl, that’s normal, but usually they only have one or two female friends that all end up dead by the end. Although Emma was allowed more friends to follow because of the show’s length (and yea, some did die), she still had a better female circle than usual. The lack of constant sexualization was also a welcome relief. Emma is allowed to go between Will and Kieran without reproach, and Audrey’s bi interests are never judged by the audience.
- The ability to go from tense to funny, and back to scary again. Nobody said a scary movie/show has to be scary every moment. It’s nice to see a show that makes fun of itself at times, and can still cause a good scare. Alleviating tension, even if it’s just for a few moments, is almost necessary to make the scares possible. Especially in the second half of the season, the suspension ramped up and allowed for truly thrilling scenes. This format allows for exploration scenes (to abandoned houses and bowling alleys) to get elongated into half an episode. Characters are allowed to fully explore the location, see all it’s twists and turns, they can split up and reconnect, then be pushed into a small room to regroup, without a time crunch to go onto the next scene and the next death.
- The final reveal, and end twists. Did you figure out who the killer was within the first few episodes? I didn’t, and that’s a good thing. You’re meant to suspect almost everybody in the Scream franchise, and they do that well in this show too. Everybody has a past or a secret that incriminates them, and each episode adds a little bit of information to their subplots to create a more dynamic show. Which parts are important for the . What surprised me was how the show chose it’s closure, in that there was none. There isn’t anything immediate, but with survivors there’s always a chance for more seasons to add some characters and kill off some old ones.
I’m happy this franchise has been rejuvenated in the more popular TV format. Although it won’t be for everyone, it’s a good show that utilizes the knowledge of original Scream creators Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson very well.
The next season of Scream: The TV Series begins on April 20, 2016. I guess next up for me is another season of AHS and taking a swing at Scream Queens. If you want to watch the first season, it’s streamable on Netflix and MTV.