By Liz Ciocher
As one of the longest-running horror film series of all time, “Scream” has had a monumental impact on the film industry since its original release in 1996. Even with the films covering a span of 27 years, there has not been another movie like it released.
The 1996 original follows the story of high school students being terrorized by a masked serial killer (otherwise known as Ghostface) a year following the murder of one of the students’ mothers. This student, Sidney Prescott, is a prominent heroine character in all the film adaptations that have been released since.
Although the identity of Ghostface is changing throughout the franchise, each murderer is revealed within the climax of the movie, characterizing the series in a “whodunit” genre. Though repetitive, this is one of the iconic calling cards of the films.
Alongside the “whodunit” genre, “Scream” is also characterized in the genre of “slasher” horror. This is one of the most important aspects of the film as it provides the drive to yet another genre of the film — mockery and satire.
“Scream” is the first movie of its kind to execute a satire genre within a horror movie, which is one of the most iconic and memorable elements of the film. The original movie makes many references to other well-known horror films and mocks them, while simultaneously leading the same plot points.
The torturous murders caused by Ghostface are connected to a game he plays with the characters that have real horror movie trivia questions, including “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” — two horror films that were released in the previous decades. By connecting these elements to the movie, it reaches the satire genre and gives the film some originality.
Although the following films in the “Scream” franchise do not follow as much of the same mockery of horror films, they are still considered to be satirical because of their use of mockery toward the movie franchise. “Scream 2” mocks film sequels and “Scream 3” mocks film trilogies.
It is because of this clever and unique detail that fuels the “Scream” franchise and gives it its originality. Alongside the satirical elements of the films, “Scream” also manages to include remakes of the same scenes in all their movies to give the series somewhat of a trademark.
For example, in every introduction of the films, there is a killing of a young woman whose character is not vital to the plot. By beginning the movies with someone’s death, the characters are immediately aware of the horror-induced setting.
Another repeated scene in the films is the shooting or stabbing of the revealed Ghostface twice, as he always resurfaces for a brief few seconds after Sidney has “killed” him. (Spoiler Alert). Sidney also makes comments of this herself in the third and fourth movie, adding to the satire of the film.
There is one bigger change in the genre after the second film. While still keeping the thrasher, “whodunit” and mockery genre, the third and fourth installment of the series enter the genre of dark comedy. Although the first two movies were widely received much better than the third and fourth, the “Scream” franchise successfully pulls off adding humor to the horror.
The satirical and comedic aspects of the film series were done so well that they inspired a line of slasher parody films — “Scary Movie.” This franchise is also categorized with dark humor and almost directly copies “Scream” in an imitation fashion. “Scream” was originally going to be titled “Scary Movie,” but received a name change during production.
A sixth installment of “Scream” is set to be released on March 10, the first of the franchise missing Sidney Prescott. It will undoubtedly be satirical, “whodunit,” thrasher, and of course, scary.