“You can’t turn a slasher movie into a TV series,” is the tag line introduced by serial killer enthusiast Noah, in the pilot of MTV’s Scream. Deliberately mocking its own premise, this is one of many quips that introduces the savvy, technological dialogue running through the suspense, gore and occasional emotional depth of this new series. In many ways, this self-awareness mirrors the main element of 1996’s Scream that made it the success it was; parodying the tropes of other horror movies became more favourable than seeing your heroine run blindly into a closet to hide from her assailant. To an extent, 2015’s latest offering achieves success with this witty commentary – though peppered with the customary clips of an overly-cheesed and clichéd high school experience (I’d like to think a video of two girls making out is no longer the silence-a-room news the pilot portrays it as). The iconic phone call threats are still coming thick and fast, but even more so are our victims chased by incessant text messages that make me feel like I haven’t quite turned off Pretty Little Liars.
Regardless, MTV’s Scream presents a slew of reasonably compelling characters with varying degrees of shadiness, and an irresistible, decades-long slasher mystery that serves enough to keep me and my friends watching.
Unlike the typical “hard and fast” plot format of horror movies, the very nature of a TV show allows clues and red herrings to take us in an all manner of directions each episode, whilst each death is savoured with much more realistic and satisfying emotional reaction. This, I like a lot, as it allows us to develop a real affection (or lack thereof) for certain characters, inevitably to make their deaths (or survivals) all the more evocative.
It’s undeniable that Wes Craven’s construction of the new series was based around a revival of his 1996 character templates: the moral, sensible yet strong main girl; her promiscuous and more popular best friend; the loveable nerd, and the two sketchy jocks whose smiles are never quite genuine, along with a background of questionable townspeople who may or may not be involved. This time, it’s our heroine’s father who is AWOL, yet her living mother still has as much involvement in the mystery as ever before. Meanwhile, True Blood‘s Amelia Rose Blaire steps in as a surrogate Courteney Cox, albeit one who pursues teenagers with much less forcible, feral gusto. In fact, all this reporter seems to do is drink coffee.
I’m intrigued as to how all the elements of this ten-part first season will tie in place, and despite its seventh episode on the horizon, I’m still none the wiser as to where the plot line will end up going. Whether this is an asset or a misstep on behalf of MTV’s writers, I just hope they have a satisfying ending figured out for the viewers – especially 1996 Scream fans who are no doubt awaiting a twist as effective as the original slasher’s. Additionally, bonuses such as insight into the home life of snarky, shallow Brook, and the way she deals with the loss of her and Emma’s ‘angelic’ friend Riley, are a welcome diversion from the ongoing whodunit. I was grateful for the development of her snide and sarcastic bad girl character, whose relationship with her teacher had been the forefront of her plot lines up until this point. However, episodes five and six have offered little in the way of fast-paced drama to satiate the hunger for gore that most viewers have, opting for scenes of petty teen problems, formulaic and forced conversations, and needless explorations of potential suspects instead (did anyone really think Audrey, one of the main characters, was the killer? No).
All in all, I’m eager to see how the final four episodes develop and conclude the mystery of MTV’s first stab at Scream as a TV show (pun intended). Hopefully some of the weaker elements of recent episodes will find their place amongst the main plot, and the revelation of the killer will be shocking and satisfying enough to bode well for its newly announced second season.
Words by Megan Harding.