I Need To Get This Off My Chest About The ‘Scream’ Movies
It keeps me up at night.
I’m all for the return of good old slashers, but there’s one problem with the Scream universe that keeps me up at night. And it’s not the violent deaths.
If Saw gets to have 10 (yes, 10!) instalments, then I don’t want to hear any more complaints about there being six Scream movies. Yes, we’re on the sixth film about some crazy murderer running around stabbing people. That kind of premise can get old. And yes, some Scream sequels miss the mark. My biggest issue with the franchise isn’t with them, though. It’s this damn mask. (Sorry about the language. That’s just how angry I am.)
The original Scream (1996) revived the tired tropes of generic slasher movies by making its characters aware of the ‘rules’ of the genre and act accordingly. Its timing was impeccable. The popularity of that type of horror film had been losing steam and it had been many years since the breakout success of 1978’s Halloween (starring “all of us”, aka Jamie Lee Curtis). But as the series became more introspective, attempting to reflect horror movies and their culture, it stepped into an uncomfortable version of reality.
See, part of the magic (and absurdity) of the franchise is that the murders in the first film serve as inspiration for Stab, a film series within the series, first introduced in Scream 3. The Stab films allow the characters to get really meta with it, referring to their own situations as sequels, requels, or, in the case of Scream VI, a whole damn franchise. Stab even uses the same Ghostface mask to make sure people know it’s inspired by true events. People wear it as a Halloween costume, since it’s now a pop culture reference within the universe.
We love to dramatise heinous acts of violence. Just last year, Netflix released a series about the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. A victim’s family member called it “retraumatising”. And just as there are several treatments of the Dahmer story, in the world of Scream, the horrific crimes of a murderer are made into a multi-film franchise.
Can you see where I’m going with this? Ghostface is an actual murderer. He’s brutally killed several people. Yet, you can buy his freaky ass mask from Amazon or something? Multiple people are casually dressing up as one of the most prolific serial killers of their time? Imagine being one of the poor sods who escaped from Ghostface’s stabby clutches, only to be forced to see the mask on movie posters or at costume parties. It would be like people going door to door asking for lollies in Dahmer masks.
As disturbing as all of this is, I’m still a hopeless fan of the franchise. Scream VI brought the series back to its roots and characters meet their end in some spectacular ways. And while it is terrifying, I’m also comforted by the fact that the mayhem is pure fiction, just the way I like it.