Critics Consensus

Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.



Total Count: 71


Audience Score

User Ratings: 478,072
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Movie Info

The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few too many scary movies. Suddenly, nobody is safe, as the psychopath stalks victims, taunts them with trivia questions, then rips them to bloody shreds. It could be anybody... Sidney, the quiet high school beauty with an ugly past... Billy, her faithful boyfriend with a frustrated sex life... Tatum, her cute best friend with a answer for everything... Casey, the lovely blonde who knows her thrillers... Geeky Randy, the scary movie fanatic... Stuart, the wild partier... Gale, the overeager TV reporter... even Dewey, the syrupy-sweet police officer. The only hope is to stay one step ahead of this crazed slasher--know your trivia. The clues are there; are you good enought to see them?

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David Arquette
as Dep. Dewey Riley
Neve Campbell
as Sidney Prescott
Courteney Cox
as Gale Weathers
Drew Barrymore
as Casey Becker
Skeet Ulrich
as Billy Loomis
Rose McGowan
as Tatum Riley
Henry Winkler
as Principal Himbry
Lawrence Hecht
as Neal Prescott
Liev Schreiber
as Cotton Weary
Linda Blair
as Obnoxious Reporter
Kevin Patrick Walls
as Casey's Father
Carla Hatley
as Casey's Mother
Lois Saunders
as Mrs. Tate
Joseph Whipp
as Sheriff Burke
Lisa Beach
as Reporter No. 1
Tony Kilbert
as Reporter No. 2
C.W. Morgan
as Hank Loomis
Troy Bishop
as Ghost Teen No. 1
Ryan Kennedy
as Ghost Teen No. 2
Leonora Scelfo
as Cheerleader in Bathroom
Nancy Ann Ridder
as Girl in Bathroom
Lisa Canning
as Mask Reporter
Bonnie Wood
as Young Girl
Lucille Bliss
as Check-out Lady
Aurora Draper
as Party Teen No. 1
Kenny Kwong
as Party Teen No. 2
Justin Sullivan
as Teen on Couch
Kurtis Bedford
as Bored Teen
Angela Miller
as Girl on Couch
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News & Interviews for Scream

Critic Reviews for Scream

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (15)

Audience Reviews for Scream

  • Nov 01, 2017
    Just as Deadpool is the superhero film that made fun of and reinvented the genre, Scream was that for Horror in the 90's. Constantly making commentary on the state and tropes of the genre, Scream is a horror film for horror fans. Albeit not as frightening as some of the great slasher films of the mid-late 20th century, Scream benefits from Wes Craven's meta direction, and memorable performances from actors who were just starting to gain fame in 1996. This film is notable for killing off a character, played by a very well-known actress (even at the time), within the first few scenes of the film. And although I knew it was coming, it was not any less effective, and proved to be a great way to introduce the "ghostface" persona. As I've said in many reviews for horror films, the film can win me over with creativity. Scream is very much an homage to the entire slasher genre, but yet it manages to feel fresh and different because of Ghostface's way of killing. The mystery surrounding his/her identity is an intriguing plot point of course, but I was more interested to hear what famous horror film Ghostface would comment on next. It's very much a horror satire, with it succeeding in executing horror trope after horror trope without ever seeming to over do it, Scream is almost like a parody of horror. Leave it to Wes Craven I guess. The only thing I got frustrated with was just how clumsy Ghostface can be, and really, every character. Perhaps done on purpose, there are far too many characters who just don't seem to have a clue how to act in a horrific situation. Again, this was probably just Craven playing with all of us, but there was just one too many trips and falls for my liking. However, with all of the memorable performances and creative horror commentary by Craven, Scream will no doubt go down as one of the more important horror films of the last few decades. 8.2/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2015
    Can you, honestly, name a creative and financially successful, original, as in not a sequel, horror movie from the 90s prior to this film's release? I can wait. I've got all the time in the world. I'm not meaning to suggest that there weren't any quality horror films in the 90s, because I'm sure there were, but the 90s for horror films, themselves, were not a particularly kind decade. This decade was still stuck in sequel-itis, where people relied on the monsters established in the 80s to, hopefully, tell a horror story. The Jasons, the Michael Myers, the Freddies, the Pinheads, among others. It was a decade that struggled mightily to find its own identity to separate itself from the 80s. And, even with the Scream franchise revitalizing a genre that hard, largely, been dead during this decade. It's not like I Know What You Did Last Summer or Urban Legends really set the world on fire coming on the aftermath of Scream's release. So, again, Scream definitely did revitalize the genre, with its subversiveness and self-referential nature that parodied horror cliches, but this movie hasn't aged that well at all. I've already seen Scream before, long time ago, probably on VHS actually, but it wasn't something that I watched multiple times throughout my childhood like the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I was really looking forward to watching this, honestly, to see if it had held up as well as Nightmare. While I do think that this film has some clever moments of subversion, I just think that it flaunts its knowledge about horror cliches much too proudly. To the point that it's detrimental to some of the proceedings. And this is from someone that absolutely loved Cabin in the Woods. Here's the difference though, horror films do not exist in Cabin's universe. So there's no obvious references to various horror cliches in order to subvert them. While Cabin does subvert horror tropes, it does it in an subtler fashion than Scream where they explicitly point out than in regular horror films this will happen, so then X, Y and Z can happen. Stuff like that, you know. And I know that using subtle and Cabin in the Woods in the same sentence might be silly to some, but they don't openly reference that they're a horror movie like Scream does. And I think that's the problem with Scream, in the long run. It wears its cleverness too much on its sleeves and it just ends up feeling self-indulgent and show off-y in parts. Don't get me wrong, though, I did enjoy this movie. It's a fun little slasher film and it's not like the film doesn't make its point about horror movies and its cliches in a smart fashion, it's just that it does so in fashion that might be too meta for some. People that hated Scream would very likely hate Cabin the Woods as well, I can certainly see the similarities between the two. But I still had quite a bit of fun watching this movie, even if it doesn't hold up as well. This is the kind of film that's probably more fun to watch with a group of friends. It's just that type of film. I might've enjoyed it more if I had had a group of friends with me. It's just a fun little movie, I think it captures that charm that some 80s horror films had, where you have fun watching them even if they're not good. Though, in this case, the film has that charm and it's also a good horror movie. With that said, and I may be wrong about this, but it seems like this movie was considerably less violent and bloody than Nightmare on Elm Street. I mean the first two deaths themselves, overall, are probably gorier than just about anything on Nightmare, but, as a whole, I still think this movie is less bloody than Nightmare. Not that that's a bad thing in and of itself. Another thing is the fact that the Ghostface killer itself isn't presented to be nearly as terrifying as Fred Krueger is in Nightmare. And Ghostface is, theoretically, more realistic than Krueger. Granted, I think the film concentrating so much on subverting the tropes and the mystery of who's the killer, that there wasn't much time to actually make this killer even remotely scary. I think it's also the fact that, after this film, everyone pretty much dressed up as Ghostface at one point or another, so that kind of takes some seriousness away from the character. It is what it is, but Ghostface isn't nearly that effective because everything revolves around the identity of the person behind Ghostface and not Ghostface him/herself. It is what it is. But I digress, the years haven't been as kind to this movie as one would hope, but it still offers a clever, if a bit too meta for its own good, subversion of horror cliches and tropes and it is also a pretty good little slasher on top of that as well. Good horror movie, but it's not what I would consider a classic.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2015
    Scream has a running theme of being really quite impressive and it works wonders on its audience of mostly fresh-faced and young cinephiles looking to be cynical and think outside the box. The nineties was good for horror, with the Ring, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Candyman and of course who could forget everyone's favourite Leprechaun, so what better time than to release Scream, which at the time was thinking so far out of the box that it really shocked alot of people into realising just how vapid the genre was. It's cool to not be cool now, and Scream works. I love Scream because whilst its pitch-black humour, often intense gore, horror film references and almost self-parodical tone work on one level, it's still actually quite a scary film. If you haven't seen Scream, you're missing out.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2014
    Every genre has a formula none more repetitive than in horror films. Several films has proven if done right can still work, but as a reliance for a genre it grows repetitive and tiresome resorting to the same tricks that audiences are accustomed to spotting them whenever they appear. Scream takes established expectations and turns it around using it strongly to its advantage combining witty humor and tension. Scream is about a killer known as Ghostface killing off teenagers, and as the body count begins rising, one girl and her friends find themselves contemplating the "Rules" of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one. Self aware of its own existence as a film and one in the horror genre it defies expectation with a witty deconstruction of its own formula. Characters are self aware of the rules applied to them in the film often bringing them front and centered to our attention. Whether or not the film chooses to take a route it gives to the audience is up to the writer to decide. Diverging between avoiding a pitfall cliche or embracing it raises greater possibility of shock. With options open to itself it not only follows a simple narrative, but also adds a layer complexity in its story and subtext that analyzes the gears of the working of average horror film. By playing against expectations every chance it has to mislead the audience is taken. Just about every character in the film can be suspected as being the killer each being more off putting in their timing when they appear. Misleading in confirming the identity of the killer maintaining uncertainty in trust to characters and anxiety when moving forward. Although not every dissection is done cleanly with several of the horror rules being used for cartoonish effect. While humor generally doesn't detract from the horror element. What does subtract from the experience are some contrived murders and contrived reasoning for a particular characters survivor. Dialogue is intentionally artificial with nearly every conversation sounding as unnatural as possible. Tossing references naturally, odd analogy, and rules how a horror film functions. Serving two great purpose in the film; one is the already established playing against expectations and the second is developing cliche characters. Not only are its characters walking and living cliches in an film knowledgeable about it functions, but also written with personality. They go beyond the standard genre trope establishing a clear background on characters, their current relationship with one another, and the part they all play in the film. Even Ghostface is also giving human traits having trouble killing his victims that equally pose the capability to escape. While none of the characters ever earn emotional attachment you will care about them in the dire situation they play a part in. Was Craven made sure Scream was exciting with a creative deaths and tension. In particular his technique of using the camera to follow the victims and move it around his location, adding excitement and intrigue. He knows how to build suspects and he does keep you guessing framing shot in way not revealing everything in sight. Creating suspense in places where one would assume to be safe. The used of music is accompany the more horror oriented scene to create an bleak mood and not spoil the potential scare. Neve Campbell really finds the true essence of her character. Fragile emotionally to be sure, but she can also muster up great emotional and physical strength when necessary, as well as be very resourceful. Jamie Kennedy is great as a movie geek who revels in the rules of horror and even Courtney Cox does a good job of being an annoying television journalist. Matthew Lillard and David Arquette all get to provide the laughs and the differences makes it work. The rest of the cast are just great playing a different variation on familiar horror tropes. Scream brutally dissects the conventions of its genre to hilarious success while delivering legitimate suspense by playing with expectations. Using a template and seemingly playing by it rules, but constructing it owns path add needed complexity and intelligence in a genre that wholly remains simplistic.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer

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