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WRITTEN REVIEW: Scream: The Series

Hot off the presses! Calling all cars! FIRE! Scream: The Series is here and I though it best to weigh in on this cultural event of the century. I love the film series and am morbidly curious, like many of you fellow fans, about this series. Re-makes have burned us all in the past and I was worried that this series would be a black eye for the franchise. So, less of a review and more of an editorial, below are my thought on the "Pilot" episode and the series itself thus far. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it starts a conversation about anything Scream. Slaughter Film has missed out on other horror related television premieres, but not this time!

I don't know who's idea it was to spin the wildly successful Scream franchise into a MTV series of it's own, but it makes a lot of sense. Now, we live in a world where re-makes, re-imagines, re-hashes, re-calibrations and spin-off run rampant, and I know that some of you who may be loyal to the franchise and think a television adaptation is an abomination. But consider this...

When the first film hit theaters it took on the slasher genre with fresh eyes. It was a slasher movie for a new generation – a generation that watched horror movies and a generation that was horror savvy. Scream was for the “MTV Generation”, and it couldn't be more fitting that it's spawn is airing on MTV.

As for the content of horror/slashers movies, Scream films only ever feature one or two scenes of true gore. Executed well and used sparingly. The same is true with sexuality. There is no nudity in Scream films. So, mild gore within a nudity free teen drama about a tech/media/meta hip serial killer is PERFECT for a basic cable teen audience.

If Scream was known for being a big-titty river of blood, and was then tamed down for t.v., fans would hate it and with good reason. But again, Scream is a perfect choice to combat The Walking Dead and American Horror Story while providing a niche product that is set apart from the rest.

Scream just makes sense for MTV.

Back in May, MTV premiered a teaser ad that appeared both online and on air that was a POV tour through a typical house party. This house party featured a dozen or so of the most photogenic teens – and here's the catch – who were dead. Not just dead, but throat slit with guts hanging out dead.

Sitting frozen in time like blood covered manikins in a macabre art installment, the stars of several MTV hit shows, including Finding Carter, Awkward, Faking It, and Teen Wolf, played the roles of the dead. The imagery alone would be enough to sell the upcoming series, but for fans of these MTV shows, seeing their favorite cast dismembered surely peaked their interest. Smart move!

But not everything leading up to the premier was gravy. One misstep was taken by whomever's job it was to update the Scream IMDB. Each actor is billed as appearing in a certain number of episodes. If you bother to peruse the page you can't help but notice that some will not appear in the full ten episodes of the season. Now yes, some characters may not be featured in every episode. However, it is terribly important to slasher films and the Scream franchise in general to cover it's tracks and misdirect who the killer may or may not be, and when you see that character “A” is in only six episodes, one can only conclude that they are going to bit it early – they aren't the killer and they aren't important enough to see it through to the end – so don't get attached. Avoid IMDB!

On June 30th, the series hit the air...and I liked it. I haven't seen enough to know whether or not the story will be good, but it was a strong introduction to what will be. It was reminiscent of Scream with it's tone and dialogue. The teens were bright, snarky and were “in on the joke” so to speak with one character in particular who seems to be the token Randy, Jamie Kennedy, character who seems to know all too much about horror films. My only problem with the characters is that none of them are a strong lead. While the show does focus on one teen who I assume will become the "final girl", as well as her mother who has secrets in her past, the "Pilot" episode jumped around quite a bit between several characters. This left me feeling a little disconnected to the people who I should care most about. But I digress. This was just the first episode.

I liked Psycho BEFORE it was cool.

From the “Pilot” episode alone, I got the impression that the writers may have been drawing from other horror material than just Scream. There was some definite Funhouse, My Bloody Valentine and even I Know What You Did Last Summer in there somewhere. This isn't a bad thing, I just hope they don't stray too far from center.

Much like the original film, in how it used cellphones as a key plot mechanic – as they were relatively new at the time – the series manages to incorporate more modern tech to adapt to the times. Not only do the teens of the series use cellphones, but also Youtube, Twitter and Snapchat. This on it's own isn't interesting. But how they are used is.

Mmmm... I'd put it in her. My penis! Not a knife.

One of the first kills of the show focuses on the prey being Snapchat-ed three second clips of herself undressing – obviously she thought she was totally alone – Spooky! Rather than the tired gimmick of the killer who calls and asks “wanna play a game?”, or describes what the prey is doing, the killer silently lets their prey know that they are being watched. I think this is as clever as it is creepy while again, incorporating the tech of the times.

There was been a bit of hub-bub about the new Ghostface Mask and how it looks different from the mask in the movies. This was a calculated decision made by the Weinsteins. They were concerned that the use of the mask in the television show may diminish the overall power of the mask in future films. I can see their reservations and I appreciate an effort being made to keep the films and the series separate. Regardless what success or failure the show may become, it isn't the Scream films and they shouldn't be allowed to influence one-other.

Other than that, there was a theme introduced that cut right to the heart of what the series is going to be about as it unfolds. That theme of masks. As the killer wares a mask to hide their identity, the characters of the show all hide behind how they allow themselves to be preconceived by others. They hide behind their “masks” as a way to keep their secrets and as the story continues, their secrets will come to the surface. An interesting element – deeper than I expected.

So in conclusion, the series has my attention. I'm not disappointed in any way, but I have my reservations about the series as a whole. Time will tell.

If you missed the “Pilot” episode, you can stream it over at MTV. Enjoy!