Thursday, 20 October 2011

Postmodernism: Film Review on "Scream" (1996)

FIG.1: Scream Poster

Inspiried by Williamson's Halloween and even after 15 years when the film first came out Scream still remains a rarity: a horror movie spoof that succeeds in provoking people to laugh and to be scared at the same time. Scream came out at the time when horror films were well worn, at the time when audiences were getting bored of the horror genre.Wes Craven improved this his postmodern twist in the film and revealed the cliché codes hidden behind every horror film of that decade.

FIG.2: The phone conversation
 The film features a killer maniac who wears a ghost mask to hide his face. The 10 minute opening of the film winds the tention up brilliantly with Drew Barrymore picking up the phone and talkig to the killer on the other end. The girl mentions to the stranger that she likes horror films and is soon killed brutally by the masked killer. Ironically, she lost her life in a way she thought only existed on screen. With this powerfull opening Wes Craven already introduces the audience to the film: a mystery of who's the killer amongst the teenagers who think they know everything about the films they are so familiar with.
The group of teenagers are the ones who throughout the film contemplate the rules of horror films, but soon enough find themselves living in a real life one. Wes Craven is interesed in the contrast between movie reality and objective reality. All of the central characters have watched horror movies and draw their own conclusions out of them. They constantly draw ironic referece from their experieces to what they have already seen in horror films. Williamson uses a phrase in the film which sums up the idea of these cliche ideas on scary films: “They’re all the same, some stupid killer stalking some big breasted girl who can’t act who’s always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door, it’s insulting.” (Williamson, 1996)With a script that gives multiple reference on  a variety of known horror films and being proud of being cleverer than the features it mocks, Scream is a great example of a pastiche, a fragmented film that has borrowed facts from horror films and has created somethig totally unique.
FIG.4: The group of teenagers.
But is Scream a parody or a postmodern thriller? It can be both. It is a parody as it is borrowing something we are already familiar with and twists it. The audience knew what horror films were like during their days so Craven took those elemets and satyrised them. On the other hand, the film is also Postmodern as it is critiquing the horror genre but at the same time it is part of it. It understands  the genre it exist with in and effaces it by manipulaing the audience's perspectives. Maltbly explains that : “Postmodernist writers respond to the problem of the fictionality of meaning by, inter alia, composing texts which mock, interrogate, and subvert the “classical” realist-empiricist assumption that language can reflect or render “things as they really are.”  (Maltbly. 1991:38)
In conclusion. Scream was the film that made the start in slash horror film and created a whole new genre. It took a step further and did not resist to recreate from exisisting horror. It is an absolute practice in Postmodernity and has remained one of the most belovable film of all time.


Maltby, P. Dissident Postmodernist (1991) University of Pennsylvania Press:USA

List of Illustrations

FIG.1: Film Poster At: (accessed on 14/10/2011)
FIG.2: Phone conversation At: (accessed on 14/10/2011)
FIG.3: The grop of teenagers At: (accessed on 14/10/2011)

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