, Research Paper
To Scream or not to Scream
In the realm of horror movies there are many genres. There is the slasher, the rogue animal, the alien monster, and even the freakish natural disaster just to name a few. The genre that seems to dominate the field currently is the slasher movie. There is a movie in the slasher genre that adheres to many of the slasher movie rules and at the same time violates many slasher rules. This dynamic slasher genre movie is called Scream.
To be included in the slasher movie genre, a movie must meet certain criteria. A slasher movie must have blood, and lots of it! Many slasher movies are centered on a lead character, which usually turns out to be a beautiful virgin. Killers in slasher movies appear to have the magical ability to appear and disappear at will. The settings for slasher movies are always in isolated areas like a lakeside camp area, a house in the country, or a building with no escape route. Any time a character tries a vehicular escape from the area where the killer is the character always forgets the keys or crashes the vehicle. The background music in slasher movies tends to signal an approaching killing scene or a tense moment. Startling scenes where the audience is lead to believe that a killing is about to take place but ends up climaxing with a scurrying animal or an object falling scaring the daylights out of the character is another slasher tactic.
The movie Scream has many of the qualities of the slasher genre. There is enough blood in the first five minutes of Scream to satisfy any hardcore slasher fan. In Scream, the lead character is a beautiful girl who just happens to be a virgin. The killer in Scream is able to magically appear and disappear seemingly at will. The main locations of the killings are an isolated house and an empty school. In Scream, the lead character tries to escape in a vehicle and forgets the keys. Another character attempts a vehicular escape only to crash in to a tree. The movie watcher can always tell when a killing scene is approaching by the tome of the background music. There are many scenes in Scream where the audience is sure one of the characters is about to be slashed, but a cat jumping out of a trashcan or some other startling event ends up being the climax of the scene.
In Scream, for every slasher genre similarity there are also massive departures from the classic slasher movie rules. The classic slasher movie has one killer that torments the lead character. Scream actually has two killers acting as a team to torment the lead character. In the slasher genre movies, the killer seldom speaks. Slasher genre killers breath heavily or mumble and groan unintelligibly, but in Scream the killer is well spoken and seems to talk quite frequently throughout the movie. Most slasher movies have a very serious tone and have little humor incorporated in to them. Scream has a fine balance of suspense, scare tactics, and humor. Classic slasher movie killers seem super-human in strength and coordination while Scream’s killer is always tripping, getting knocked down, and generally appearing like a klutz. In the slasher movie genre, the killer’s identity is usually known. The killer is always a deranged psychopath whose name is known by other characters in the movie. In Scream, the killer’s identity is not known by the characters in the movie or by the audience. One of the rules in a slasher movie is if a character has sex that character will die, but in Scream the lead character has sex and lives to tell the tale. The final scenes of most slasher movies usually reveal that the killer incredulously survived the punishment meant to kill them. In Scream, the killers are definitely dead and will not be returning for the sequel.
Scream’s adherence to many of the slasher genre rules places it firmly in the slasher movie category; however, its departures from the die cast mold of the slasher genre could place it in the comedy genre as well. This fantastic duality makes Scream one of the best films in both genres. Scream keeps the movie watcher alternating between covering their eyes in fright and holding their sides in laughter. If given the choice to Scream or not to Scream, one should definitely choose to Scream!