It’s happened you guys. The snake has starved, it’s found it’s own tail and it’s having a proper good fucking chomp of itself. We’re full on Ouroboros in this shit now. As if our failing culture of regurgitation isn’t enough for all the lazy major studios they now want to be ‘in’ on the ground floor of some attempt at critiquing their own terrible decisions by creating the post-modern remake. And not just that, but a migraine inducing ‘AM I CROSS-EYED YET?’ post-modern TV remake of a post-modern horror movie.
It’s pretty much the entertainment equivalent of that moment in Ghostbusters where Egon tells Peter not to cross the streams. Well, they’ve crossed a couple of fucking streams and it is just as bad as Egon warned. Total protonic reversal in TV form, my friends. This is the Scream pilot.
I should start by saying that I’m obviously a huge Scream fan. I saw the first one when I was about 12 years old, sneaking into the living room where my dad and brother were watching a freshly rented copy from the local Blockbusters (£3.50! 2 nights! It was on V-H-fucking-S!) and I stood by the door for pretty much the entirety of the movie, completely transfixed. It was smart, funny, scary and it had characters I gave a shit about (shout out to you Rose McGowen! You fucking Queen!). It was basically Dawson’s Creek but with murder, Nick Cave on the soundtrack, less agonising monologues and no-one shining beams of lights up Steven Spielberg’s arse (fucksake, Dawson. Get a grip).
I love all of the Scream films, even Scream 4, and I will argue with you until long after final orders down the pub and long after everyone has bought chips, thrown them back up and gone the fuck home in order to defend them.
But the pilot episode of Scream the TV Show (is that what we’re calling it? I don’t really care enough to check) cannot be defended. What a clusterfuck of terrible. The Scream franchise – and even the cartoonish Scream 3 and the reboot Scream 4, which idled into the sort of raised eyebrow, self-deprecating territory which the TV show really should be – worked because it’s post-modernism was fresh. Even 3 and 4 knew that the meta-horror ship had boarded more patrons than actual space and was sinking into a dearth of it’s own overblown weight, and both these movies played right up to that fact.
The post-modern horror movie had been done to fucking death. It had long been choked by it’s own flayed guts by the time Scream 4 came out and it proudly wore that death dress like a Prom Queen back from the dead.
Where Scream the Series (I don’t know, you guys, every title sounds wrong) doesn’t work is that it’s trying to reboot the idea of post-modern horror in this trite era of 90’s nostalgia (shit, you guys. Are we part of the problem?! Goddamn you Clarissa Darling!) rather than translating the franchise for TV. It’s basically the Halloween 3 of the Scream franchise. Absolutely fuck all to do with anything.
Now, I fully understand the appeal of an easy-to-watch, trash TV version of a slasher movie. Bring. It. On. I’m ready for that. But Small Screen Scream (that’s better!) is missing every cue which that concept can offer.
What Small Screen Scream should be doing is not associating it with the original franchise. If you can’t even get the rights for the original iconic mask then take it as a sign that it’s just not meant to be. Clearly, the show has some ambition to replicate the tumblr-obsessive success of American Horror Story, and reference as much horror as both that series and the original Scream franchise did, but by doing it under the umbrella of Scream is limiting. MTV would have been better off just starting from fresh and creating a brand new referential slasher series which both aped teen culture and horror tropes as a whole – in the tradition of Scream rather than pretending to be anything to do with it.
It’s early days, I guess. But whatever. It’s a blatant sinking ship.
Do we really need to go through this again?
Please, MTV, spare your audience the condescension of being repeatedly reminded that they are watching a show based on a movie which liked to deconstruct itself as it was playing out. We fucking get it. The last thing we need is a bargain bin Jamie Kennedy leading proceedings by explaining exactly what it is we’re watching. When said bargain bin Jamie Kennedy stand-in Noah talks us out of the episode by explaining that TV allows you to actually care about characters and as such be suitably devastated when they get killed (‘by the time the first body is found it’s only a matter of time before the bloodbath commences…’. No, d’uh, you fuck) it makes me want to save up some money, buy a flight to a LA and fight my way into the MTV studios just so I can stare right into the eyes of whatever dumb fuck is getting paid to write this garbage and like, I don’t know, ask them what they’re doing with their life. You know, really fuck them up.
PG-13 Murders. Bitch, please!
Are you kidding me with those murders? Underwhelming doesn’t even cover it. Now, I’m not some fucking monster who gets off on watching simulated murder scenes (honest, judge!) but come on, this is the pilot episode and you’re supposed to at least try to impress us. Two murders? One of which was simply a goofy looking head tossed into a hot tub? (ugh, and that one liner? ‘Heads Up!’. Was Arnold Schwarzenegger a ghost writer on this thing? STAHP!) Poor show. Simply slashing a pretty girls throat and pushing her into a swimming pool is some Disney fucking slasher shit right there. I’ve seen more creative (and scarier?) deaths on Pretty Little Liars for fucksakes.
Oh, look! White people!
It’s 2015 and horror still can only manage to include one measly token POC? Supporting cast too! Who wants to bet that they get killed off before most of the white kids?
Go like a cabin in Crystal Lake and make this shit camp
Look, amongst a lot of other things this is a trash TV blog. We understand the need for tropes and the use of some well executed (no pun intended) stereotypes but either go camp or go home. Don’t merely settle with showing a pack of mean girls, some meat head jocks, the English teacher shagging his student and the mysterious, handsome bad boy and leave it at that. Play with those tired old narratives! Give us some commentary on them! Even 90210 was capable of raising an eyebrow at itself and the teen culture that the original series had inspired. This is a horror show. It should be fun! So make like Spinal Tap and amp all of these ludicrous cardboard characters up to 11 and play it for funnies.
Oh lady, what did Kelly Taylor do to you to make you so dead inside?
Speaking of Beverly Hills 90210, if you too have spent much of your twenties hiding under your duvet watching old episodes of teen shows then you might recognise the actress playing lead protagonist Emma’s mum in the show. It’s Tracy Middendorf! A.k.a. Laura Kingman from season 4 of BH90210 (don’t act like you don’t remember! She wrongly accused poor old rich moron Steve Sanders of rape! No? It was a seminal storyline, let me tell you) who also starred in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (a pre-Scream meta gem). Tracy looked for all the World like she did not want to be there. That kitchen scene where she shows the heart in the box to the cop? Vacant stare. Stilted dialogue. Dead eyed apathy. Wow. She could not give two shits.
Wasting good talent
Bex Taylor-Klaus, what are you doing here?! You have great potential and this show looks like it’s going to use none of it.