Slasher TV: MTV’s “Scream” – Season 1 Review

screammtv1

The night that everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived. After nine episodes of mystery and death, the season one finale of MTV’s Scream has arrived. Let me start off by saying that MTV needs to really learn what a tribute is to somebody. The tribute they paid to Wes Craven was a joke. This show would not have existed had it not been for him and all he gets is a “Thanks for the screams!” They could have tweeted that.

Anyway rant done. Keep in mind I’m going to try be as spoiler free as possible. So, with the Pilot episode we are given the urban legend of one, Brandon James, the town psychopath. The killer shows up wearing the same mask as Brandon and ensues havoc on the town of Lakewood. The first victim is the high school slut/bitch. We also get a taste of voyeurism that plays a theme during the season. For the most part, it does a good job of building up the mystery and who is committing these murders. And for an MTV series, it delivered some pretty fine and gory death scenes. One thing that did please me is that amount of nods/homages to moments from the original film series and managing to make them their own in a fine light. And while we are given a couple of chase scenes (and a decent ones), though very brief, but sometimes we gotta take what we can get. Unfortunately during the course of the series, the deaths come to a halt and leave us horror hounds with nothing. And when we are, it’s more often someone we really don’t give two shits about. On top of this, and what really brought it down, was the amount of pointless drama that served no purpose whatsoever. An example being a plotline involving Brooke’s (Carlson Young) mother. Some can argue it served as a purpose to shape her character (fair enough), but in the grand spectrum of things, it didn’t do anything for the story (if this was longer than ten episodes I would have given up and waited for the finale).

That being said, I tried to have hope that this would all build to a great finale episode. For the most part, the finale had MANY great scenes, and some very thrilling ones that take place at Brooke’s house once the killer crashes the party. But by the end, I was very disappointed. If the killer wasn’t predictable during the latter half of the season, the finale beats you over the head with it to where only the dumbest person (or the most uneducated horror fan ever) wouldn’t be able to see it. That being said, the performance given by the actor during the reveal was pretty solid (though very familiar to Emma Roberts’ in Scream 4). As for the motive, it went for the most tired one possible (another familiar one). Of course our leading lady Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) gets into a literal fight to the death with the killer, Fitzgerald turns in her better performance of the season here. The showdown is engaging for sure (some may say comical), but I loved that they were going all out with it, but unfortunately it was short lived (I wanted more). It all ends with a disgustingly happy ending, but also one final twist (gets a small nod of approval) for next season.

During the course of the season we have our main sets of characters. Some we genuinely grew to like and lost too soon, some we thought “finally”, and some we just didn’t care about because they weren’t important. Some characters even had way too many close calls to death and always conveniently got away (not gonna lie this pissed me off). From the beginning I always liked Emma and Willa’s performance, the only downside was that the character didn’t get a great amount to do a majority of the time. The finale made me enjoy the character and performance even more. Upon introduction I didn’t care for the character of Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus), I saw her as very pitiful “woe is me” type. But she grew out of that fast and quickly grew on me as she showed more of her personality. She had some of the best lines of the season. Along with Audrey was her best friend Noah (John Carna) I liked this character from the start as well as the horror fanatic. But I can see why some got annoyed by him. Admittedly there were moments where his quirky lines got old (especially in the finale) but I still liked him enough. As for the other characters, my feelings towards them didn’t change.

Contrary to how most people feel, I couldn’t stand the character of Brooke or Carlson Young’s acting throughout. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good bitch in a horror, but Brooke wasn’t even a bitch after the first two episodes, she was more of a whiny, self-involved brat. I was hoping Young would at least step up her game to try deliver a good performance, but I could only tolerate bad crying and weak line delivery so much. Don’t get me started on her squawk (I mean scream). Call me bias or a hater if you want, but the character, nor the actress did anything for me. Neither did Tom Madden as Jake (what was his point?). The rest of the cast did okay at best but the above were the only ones worth mentioning. With all of this being said and combining the story with the characters, one would think that we would get a blood bath in the finale, right? WRONG! We are only given two deaths in the finale, and neither are people we cared about (I honestly mean this), there might as well have been no deaths at all. As a massive horror (especially slasher) fan, I spent nine episodes, a majority of them kill free, to see shit go down and characters die (whether I liked them or not), and this is what I got. A handful of survivors. This to me made this whole season pointless. Instead of being true to slasher form, it decided to focus on bad teen drama with Scooby Doo exploring. They may have saved these characters for season two, but regardless there were WAY too many survivors than there needed to be. Again, this made the whole season pointless and more of a drama than a horror/slasher show.

If you are a massive slasher fan expecting horror and carnage, you will be disappointed. If you are a young teen with a low IQ and no knowledge of the horror genre whatsoever, you may just love it. Some may find even ground in it and like it. As for me, this was a huge slap in the face as a slasher fan and overall left a bad taste in my mouth and unsure whether to tune into season two. Despite some fine performances and characters, great nods to the original films, nice deaths (from what there was), and some thrilling moments, MTV’s Scream was basically Pretty Little Liars with actually bloody kills in it. Overall, I say pass on this one and watch My Super Psycho Sweet 16 instead. You get what this whole season had, plus a pleasuring amount more in 90 minutes.

–Cody Landman

2teddy

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

Scream-Series-Logo-1428589434

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.

2782641E00000578-0-image-a-106_1428898137079

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.

maxresdefault

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