Synopsis: What starts as a YouTube video going viral, soon leads to problems for the teenagers of Lakewood and serves as the catalyst for a murder that opens up a window to the town’s troubled past.
I am a huge fan of the Scream movies. They’ve always been my favorite horror franchise, which is why I went into the updated TV series with high hopes. Perhaps that was my undoing.
The show follows the lives of several suburban teens and their quiet life in a pretty town that was, once upon a time, devastated by a disfigured teen-turned-serial-killer who wiped out a good chunk of the class of 1970-something. After another suspiciously similar murder is inexplicably committed in 2015, the white kids decide to throw a pool party at a secluded house to honor their fallen friend.
The original films were amazing in their genre-savvy nature and open subversion of classic tropes. The show has the genre-savvy part down, most pointedly evidenced by a fantastic scene in which Noah (Jaime Kennedy 2.0) talks at length about how ridiculous it would be to make a splatter movie into a television show. And everyone seems to agree.
But where the movie opened on an iconic and blessedly non-sexual sequence of Drew Barrymore unknowingly playing movie trivia with a serial killer, before being killed in a famously cringe-worthy splatter scene, the show gives us Nina, an obnoxious busty blonde with a bikini and a yappy little dog who ends up with her throat unceremoniously slashed, and her body tossed in the pool. Additionally, our heroine, Emma, seems to be a pretty, bookish blonde with none of Sidney Prescott’s nuance or charm.
Where the movies were both an homage to and a satire of the horror genre, so far the show feels like MTV fodder trying to capitalize on all the wrong things. Which in my mind, severely underestimates their fanbase.
Noah ends the episode by narrating that no one is safe, and that this story is not ‘just a slasher movie’. That every tiny plot point matters and every character must be likable, so you’ll be sad when they die, until there are none left. Dramatic. And foreshadowing almost definitely, but despite the wealth of varied characters, not one of them seems to have much depth or motivation. Biased movie comparisons aside though, this scene, and really the whole episode, does a decent job of presenting every single character as likable, expendable, and with something to hide.
The significance of their mediocrity is that it keeps us from believing any one of them is safe from death, or from being the killer. Which sets up… well, anything. The pilot did not dazzle me, but I’m holding out hope that this is keeping in line with the films’ endless ability to use what you think you know about horror films to make you second guess yourself (personally, I’m hoping that Nina faked her own death to orchestrate the entire thing a la Scream 4).
Also, the classic dagger has remained, while the updated Ghostface mask is pretty dang cool.
Current Body Count: 2