Meta Murder: “Scream” (2015) – Pilot Review

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The episode begins with a creepy voiceover singing Daisy (Bicycle Built for Two) as it opens with a shot of a lone lake. The voice resembling the singing voice of Billy from the original Black Christmas. From there, we see a video of two young women making out in a car. The prime target is Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus), who suddenly become a victim of cyber-bullying when the video goes viral. Cut to the class mean girl Nina (Bella Thorne), alone in her house and receiving threatening text messages and is soon brutally murdered. The rest of the episode follows Nina’s classmates dealing with her death. Some showing no signs of remorse (Audrey included), and some in disbelief. It is only when the killer begins taunting Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) and her friends, as well as Emma’s mother, that they realize Nina wasn’t just a lone kill, and that the town of Lakewood’s deadly past may be coming back for bloody vengeance.

This series is based off of the popular slasher series of the same name by Wes Craven. However, it is completely set apart from the film’s storyline featuring new characters and a new story. Now I admit, that compared to the films it is VERY weak and nowhere near engaging, however, with it being different than the films it is hardly fair to judge it on that. The opening scene featuring Bella Thorne is supposed to be reminiscent to Drew Barrymore’s opening in the original film. The opening had potential to be great, but there really wasn’t much to it, they could have amped the terror much more and strung it out more. Bella Thorne does well with the role with what she has, and she was impressive in her brief panic mode, but had the scene been longer, she would have had more time to shine.

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Moving on we have our main cast. Emma is our main girl here, the popular girl. Though she is a popular girl, Emma has a caring side, but is also not afraid to stand up for herself or others. Willa Fitzgerald really does well with the role and really makes Emma likable, Fitzgerald doesn’t get to show too much of her panic mode until the very end, so it’s too hard to judge her acting in that department, but overall she did a fine job here. She is the girlfriend of our jock character Will, he is your typical gorgeous jock, but isn’t a total douche, but he can have his moments. Then there is Audrey, Emma’s old best friend. She’s mainly the pitiful victim of the characters who appears on and off. Her character seems hardly worthy of existing considering she’s hardly one of the main focuses and doesn’t have really any redeeming qualities to make us care about her. Noah is our film/television buff who walks us through his theories of how things will play out. He is also the aspect of the show that gives us its meta voice. Although some of his dialogue is very cheesy, the character himself is pretty cocky and seems like he gets his kicks from creeping out his crew with his horror knowledge (I like him already). At this point he is Audrey’s only real good friend. We get our bitch character in Brooke (played very horribly by Carlson Young). She’s the character who just sits around flashing her blonde hair, waiting for any given moment to spout out any bitchy remark, otherwise she doesn’t have anything to say. Riley is another member of the main group who is essentially Brooke’s sidekick. She’s also the one who feeds in most to Noah’s horror theories (will this help her survive?), Riley isn’t terribly unlikable, but there isn’t anything particularly special to her, but it’s comical seeing her so enticed in the horror theories as if she’s never even heard of a horror movie. Finally, there is Jake (Will’s wingman and the big douchebag), and Kieran (the new and mysterious bad guy that Emma becomes infatuated with). Jake is just your stereotypical drunk douchebag (really, that’s it). Kieran is a fairly interesting character, he has some charm and nice guy moments, but he has a mysterious quality that makes you think there is something dark hidden behind his nice guy exterior. Overall it’s a very divided group of characters, you will either love them or hate them. I personally really only like Emma and Noah. As far as the acting goes, it is still early to make it concrete, but going by this first episode, a majority of the acting is weak except for Willa Fitzgerald, John Karna (Noah), and Amadeaus Serafini (Kieran). Also on a side note, Tracy Middendorf who plays Emma’s mother is a major character in the film, is a slasher alum for her role as Julie in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

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Now, moving on to the overall story. Going by this first episode, it is clear so far that the series wants to play a very strong tribute to the spirit of the film by having nods as far as its scenes (such as the opening, discussion of horror films, and even creepy calls/messages), but in some ways it’s also a remake of the original film but trying to throw a new story in. This story comes in form of numerous 80s slasher films, and admittedly, it does a great job in this department. You may also see some nods to other slasher films besides Scream. As for the killer, I personally love the look of the costume. The mask gives enough tribute to Ghostface while getting its own character. Overall he/she has a very creepy look to him, but the phone calls the killer provides, while semi-creepy in dialogue, is weak as far as the voice speaking it. So, in my final words, Scream the Series is one that you more than likely won’t enjoy if you don’t like rich, pretty, teeny bopper drama and their characters (but if you want to see some of them die you might think differently). But if you are willing to look past all of this and see it as a show trying to pay tribute to a fantastic slasher series and slashers from the 80s generation you may want to tune in. Quite frankly if anything will keep me tuned in all the way, it is the story given, not so much the characters. As long as you don’t go in comparing it to the show (as hard as it may be, trust me because you will hate it in that case), and can get over the glossy characters and appreciate the slasher story aspect, you may just enjoy this. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its numerous faults in weak acting, some uninteresting characters, weak dialogue, and just plain simply the usual MTV drama, you may enjoy it. The pilot is at least worth watching a slasher fan just to see if the story grabs you enough.

An overall review of the first season to come following the season finale.

–Cody Landman

2.5