Review: More of a Groan Than a ‘Scream’

Scream was my obsession in high school. Anyone that went to Lincoln High knows that Sidney Prescott was my favorite final girl, so it’s only natural that I went into MTV’s Scream series with jagged trepidation.  I can say with confidence that I am a Scream afficianado. Could something like a slasher flick work as a series? Let the meta discussions begin. The biggest tragedy about this concept, though, is that MTV is using the Scream name when it doesn’t really bear any resemblance to the innovative horror series.

Forgive me for sounding like an old man shaking his cane, but this isn’t Scream. Sure, there are teenagers aware of their surroundings and about pop culture, but they are also sniveling brats. Most of the teenage boys look exactly alike (I only can tell them apart by their random physical attributes), and they come off rather disposable from the premiere episode.

The opening kill centers on a bitchy girl named Nina (played by Bella Thorne) who comes home late to lounge in her hot tub as she flirts with her boyfriend via text even though she’s receive creepy Snapchats from someone who is watching her. She barks commands into her phone and then settles in for a dip to only be disturbed by her boyfriend’s decapitated head in the hot tub. Her throat is slashed and she’s tossed into the pool. Bye girl bye. Drew Barrymore, you are not.

The aftermath of Nina’s death leads us to meeting everyone in her social circle. The Sidney Prescott of this season is obviously Emma (Willa Fitzgerald), and she’s dating a shiny-lipped jock named Will (Connor Weil). There’s a bitchy friend…there’s a nerdy, awkward outcast who has a hard time talking with girls…there’s the beautifully coiffed mystery studs. The horror archetypes are all accounted for. The problem is that I don’t give a flying Ghostface about any of them. There are only two redeemable characters.

Emma’s mother, Maggie, has a secret to hide. In flashbacks, we find out that she was the subject of obsession of a disfigured boy in high school. He went on a killing rampage, and then she helped lure him into a trap with police, resulting in him getting shot and falling into Lakewood’s forever-whispering lake. Maggie receives a heart wrapped in an adorable box on her doorstep (seriously, that packaging would go over so well at your local county fair). The town is called Lakewood, by the way. And boy does Scream have wood for that lake. It’s always covered in fog and it quite literally hisses and whispers every time it’s shown. The other good character is Audrey, the Randy Meeks-like film fan who becomes the target of a cruel joke when a video of her making out with another girl goes viral. She might be able to lure teenagers into this show, and she holds her own against all the idiots she surrounded by.

Listen, a lot has changed since 1996. While I didn’t like the girl in the opening scene, I did appreciate the homages to the original film throughout the episode (the big windows in the house, the garage scene that had me begging for a kitty door). Technology has changed so drastically with how we use phones that the original Scream feels almost like a period piece to an extent. The characters in the original series were smarter than this. Can they capture some essence from the original entry?

Horror television series are mentioned in an earlier scene. American Horror Story and Hannibal are brought up, and one character asks if horror can be translated into a series. It can, but it doesn’t need the Scream name. As Sidney Prescott said in Scream 4 right when she took down the killer in the overwrought finale…

“Don’t fuck with the original.”


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