Scream Blu-ray delivers great video and reference-quality audio in this exceptional Blu-ray release
A teenage girl becomes the target of a killer who has stalked and killed one of her classmates. A tabloid news reporter is determined to uncover the truth, insisting that the man who raped and killed Campbell's mother one year earlier is the same man who is terrorizing her now. Campbell's boyfriend becomes the prime suspect.
For more about Scream and the Scream Blu-ray release, see Scream Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 24, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Is there any film genre as self-aware and often intentionally ironic as horror? It almost seems a rite of passage that new writer-directors want to cut their teeth (as well as various other body parts of victims) on making a horror film, and more often than not these newcomers like to traffic in hoary clichés, if only to prove that "they can do it, too." How many movies have you seen which begin with the hapless, frightened female running from an unseen attacker, only to meet her demise before the opening credits roll? If you're like most people, probably more than you can count. But that's just the tip of the cliché iceberg in terms of horror movies. There's a virtual laundry list of tropes that anyone who's seen enough horror films can recite, including things like gruesome deaths after sex, killers emerging from shadowy corners, and, of course, the inevitable "rise from the grave" which almost always caps films of this ilk, when just as you're beginning to relax after the killer has been vanquished, he miraculously comes back from the dead to try to wreak at least a little more havoc before he shuffles off this mortal coil. Part of what made the Scream franchise so bracing and enjoyable, then, was how it relished, even wallowed, in horror movie clichés, while it simultaneously plumbed those very clichés for a surprising number of bona fide scares. The first Scream took 1996 audiences by storm and ushered in a whole new wave of self-aware and intentionally ironic horror films. But in many ways, the first Scream is the best of the lot, not just of this new subgenre, but in terms of the Scream trilogy itself. Writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven fashion a near perfect blend of thrills and laughs, and the goofiness that resides just beneath the surface of even the most violent sequences makes the first Scream a hoot (for wont of a better word).
"Why, yes, I'd love to star in 'The Janet Leigh Story'".
Most of you have probably seen at least one, if not all, of the Scream movies, so a detailed plot recap is most likely unnecessary. Suffice it to say that after a whirlwind prelude where a major movie star discovers that billing doesn't protect her from being brutally murdered, we enter the sylvan world of fictional Woodsboro, California, where plucky teenager Sidney (Neve Campbell) is trying to adjust after the horrible murder of her late mother almost a year previously, a murder which was attributed (perhaps wrongly) to a man named Cotton Weary (Liev Schrieber) on the strength of Sid's testimony. Now suddenly she's being tormented by a rabid caller who doesn't just taunt her verbally, but actually ups the ante by attacking her. Sidney and her Woodsboro friends are all experts on horror films, and suddenly they find themselves living scenes very much like the thrills they have experienced vicariously for years. Sidney takes solace in the arms of her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich), whom she briefly suspects is her attacker until she receives another threatening phone call from "Ghostface" (so named because he wears a spectral mask and dons a black cloak to do his murdering and/or attacking) while Billy is briefly incarcerated due to Sidney's suspicions.
Things get considerably more complex as a gaggle of supporting characters wander into the fray, including Dewey (David Arquette), a bumbling police deputy, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), an aspiring news reporter, and in a very funny portrayal, Jamie Kennedy as the resident horror film buff of the group, Randy Meeks. Randy may indeed be the expert among the crowd, but each of these characters seems only too well informed about the ins and outs of horror film conventions, and that very awareness is part of what gives Scream its delicious comedic edge as well as its undeniably visceral scare factor. Somehow it's even scarier when you know, or at least suspect, what's coming, and Scream manages to play up those self-aware fears, momentarily discount them, and then deliver a killer blow just a beat or two later. And it does this over and over again with surprising alacrity and effectiveness.
Scream benefits from some very (ahem) sharp writing by Williamson, a man who obviously loves the horror genre without sacrificing a clearheaded and often hilarious analysis of the genre's own hyperbolic excesses. Williamson manages to skewer just about every convention of modern horror films while still delivering palpable scares, no mean feat. Horror guru Wes Craven stages this all with pitch perfect precision. Craven wisely lets the dialogue deliver the irony and laughs, while his expert framing and judiciously controlled editing provide the scares. Craven also elicits uniformly excellent work from the ensemble cast. Kennedy is hilarious in his scenes, and Campbell is winsome and well balanced between steely resolve and quivering fear. The best moments in Scream are undoubtedly the lunatic finale where the denouement of who is actually visiting this carnage on peaceful little Woodsboro is delivered with an absolutely hilarious blend of big laughs and real thrills, all the while mining virtually each and every well worn cliché of horror movie climaxes.
I've mentioned in other reviews of far lesser horror films how closely linked fear and laughter are in the human consciousness, and how standard it is to hear tittering giggles from audience members at even the scariest moments in horror films. Perhaps Scream's greatest achievement, even better than its nonstop references to other horror films, is how effortlessly it repeatedly combines these two elements into one seamless whole. If you were lucky enough to have seen Scream theatrically, you know how brilliantly the film managed to ping-pong its audience between abject fear and outright giddiness, and Williamson and Craven's greatest gift to their audience is how they managed to keep that bifurcated tone completely consistent throughout the film. The self-awareness that Williamson's script brings never devolves into outright archness, even as it intentionally pokes and prods the genre's conventions, kind of like a plucky heroine nudging a supposedly dead killer to make sure he's really gone for good.
Scream makes an appropriately bloody entry onto Blu-ray with a generally very good looking AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. Colors, including the infamous "corn syrup blood, just like they used in the prom scene of Carrie", are often beautifully robust and extremely well saturated. Fine detail is very good to excellent, especially in extreme close-ups. Black levels are also impressive, especially when Ghostface's cloak rustles in front of shadowy backgrounds. One problem with this transfer, however, is persistent (if minor) shimmer and digital noise on some of the leafy backgrounds, especially in the evening shots, as well as minor shimmer on parallel patterns like sweaters. Contrast is also occasionally an issue, strangely in mostly moderately lit scenes (as in the bathroom scene with Campbell at school), where things are just slightly mushy. In fact quite a few of the midrange shots reveal a certain gauziness at times. Grain structure is largely intact and looks very natural.
Scream's artful sound design capitalizes on every tried and true amped up effect in the horror film canon, and it's brilliantly delivered on this excellent lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Sudden unexpected bursts of LFE slash in from the subwoofer and other low frequency sound effects, usually of the startling variety, penetrate the surround channels with appealing regularity. Ghostface's menacing voice sounds impressively gravelly and of course the screams, slashing and general clatter of all of the attack scenes are extremely well placed around the soundfield. Fidelity is spot on here, with brisk, penetrating highs and abundant, throbbing lows. Source cues are well mixed, and balance between dialogue and effects is masterful. This may be considered almost a parody of current day horror soundtracks, but it's amazingly good fun and this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 reproduction plays it for all it's worth.
Some, but not all, of the extras from the special edition DVD of Scream have been ported over to this Blu-ray edition:
Commentary by Williamson and Craven is fun if not especially insightful. Lots of backstory is discussed, including Williamson's original title of Scary Movie (hmmm. . .), and some attention is paid to how Craven "dressed up" the basic aspects of Williamson's screenplay.
Production Featurette (SD; 6:12) is a typical EPK-fest, short and sweet.
Behind the Scenes features two brief offerings, On the 'Scream' Set (SD; 3:25), which offers Craven being interviewed and shows some scenes being filmed, and Drew Barrymore (SD; 2:53), which consists of a look at Scream's famous opening sequence being filmed.
Q&A With Cast and Crew is similarly split into two sort of random questionings, What is Your Favorite Scary Movie? (SD; 2:44) and Why Are People So Fascinated By Horror Films? (SD; 2:31)
Scream reinvented the horror film for the post-modern generation, and though scores of filmmakers have tried to follow in its bloody footsteps, very few if any have succeeded. A near faultless blend of self-awareness, humor and outright scream-worthy scares, this is a film that knows you know what to expect, and it plays with those expectations like a cat with a cornered mouse. It's rare a horror movie is this much fun, but in fact fun is what Scream still is, even after all these years, which is why it remains so many people's favorite scary movie. Highly recommended.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced Scream, Scream 2 and Scream 3 for Blu-ray release on March 29, tying in with the theatrical release of Scream 4, due out April 15. No trilogy box set has been announced at the moment, so a tetralogy (not quadrilogy) box ...