Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 7 of Scream (0:21:14-0:29:49)

In this project I attempt to review the entire Scream trilogy scene by scene in chronological order. Heavy spoilers and gore throughout!

Length: 8mins 35secs
Primary Characters: Sidney Prescott, Ghostface and Billy Loomis
Pop Culture References:
  • Tom Cruise and All the Right Moves (Tatum suggests watching it)

As someone who has watched this movie more times that he can count, I find myself always noticing little things that amuse me. I always forget about this moment in which Sidney steps off the school bus and heads towards her house with Sidney's enthusiastic friend waving at her and screaming "CYA SIDNEY!" and what does Sidney do? She doesn't even acknowledge her. Oh Sidney, you really are a bit of a bitch, aren't you?

By the way, I always seem to remember there NOT being a girl on the bus. Is it possible that they digitally added in a girl for the DVD? I distinctly remember chuckling many years ago when Sidney's invisible friend would talk to her and yet the proof is right there. It confuses me.

Gah! I want to live here.

One thing that disappoints me about this scene - and there's really not much of anything that does - is that they show so much of the house, both exterior and interior, and yet the chase sequence utilises so little of it. There's an entire patio there and so many rooms and corridors inside and yet it's only a one-way chase.

"...it's like deja vu all over again!"

Yes Sidney, that's what deja vu means. Something happening again. Unless you've already experienced deja vu and now you're experienced the deja vu again. Wow. Complicated. Let's move on!

I do like that they made Neve Campbell wear rather plain clothes. Ya know, the sorta clothes you wear when you're just hanging out at home by yourself and not, like, some $300 top from a trip to LA or something.

Aah, the blessed fake scare! At least a cat didn't jump out. One thing I like though is that whenever opens a door or, basically, does anything that you expect the killer to pop out from is is actually just setting the scene for when something does happen. Such is the case here when you expect the killer to be inside only to find nothing and then later when Ghostface does lunge out later in this scene or in Scream 2 when CiCi (Sarah Michelle Gellar) opens one door and we expect to see the killer only to have him/her/it jump out from a different one.


Gale Weathers is, without a doubt, my favourite character from the entire Scream trilogy and I love how this very brief moment with her sets up this mysterious case between the two. The look of Sidney's face says there is a history between the two, but we still don't know what it is.

I actually think a lot of my very initial love for Scream came from my obsession with Friends. I was a total Friends addict from seasons 1-6. Monday night was Friends night and I had posters upon posters adorning my wall. Courteney's "Monica Gellar" was my favourite despite Phoebe and Rachel stealing more episodes outright. So, yes, part of my initial Scream fascination was by seeing my favourite actress at the time play this bitch reporter in a slasher movie. There's even an episode in season 4, "The One With the Embryos", that aired in 1997 right between Scream and Scream 2 where Monica lets out a big scream and I got a bit of enjoyment outta that. She was rehearsing for her big lung belter during Scream 2's news van sequence.

Just by the way, isn't that episode just the best? I actually think it's my favourite episode of Friends from all 10 seasons. Even the less than stellar ones at the end had some great episodes, but I don't think anything quite beats that episode.

Moving one.

Our first glimpse of Sidney's mother, and the realisation of what everyone has been walking on eggshells to sidestep, comes in this 50th screencap for the project. Fitting then since she is catalyst and motivation of the killers in each movie. Even in Scream 3, which we'll obviously be discussing later, when the insertion of her into that felt overplayed and a bit forced, she's a constant presence in the entire trilogy so it's apt that she's here at the 50th screencap mark.

In fact, even though this trilogy has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the universe of Twin Peaks, I like that the story of Maureen Prescott (at this stage seen only in photos of actress Lynn McRea) mirrors that of Laura Palmer. Both lived seemingly innocent lives in idyllic American towns and yet under the surface lived a life full of adultery, sex and scandal that their family is not willing to admit despite everyone in their hometown being well aware. Both are memorialised somewhat in video (Maureen later in Scream 3, Laura in the pilot episode) and both are, obviously, murdered before the start of the narrative.

These three consecutive shots on sundown are really quite gorgeous, but I really like how they match the colour of the artwork of The Town that Dreaded Sundown, a title that is referenced later on in the movie.

"Practice ran late, I'm on my way."
"It's past seven!"
"Don't worry. Casey and Steve didn't bite it until way after ten."
"Oh, that's comforting."
"I'm gonna swing by the video store, I was thinking Tom Cruise All the Right Moves? You know if you pause it just right you can see his peeenis!"
"Whatever, just hurry, okay?"
"Ta ta, Sid."

I love this little dialogue exchange between Tatum and Sidney. It's the sort of stuff that actually makes you believe they were friends before the movie began and not just because the screenplay said they were (if that makes any sense). Plus, it's true (NSFW). One thing that will be interesting about Scream 4 in that regard will be how they do that sorta thing since friends don't telephone each other anymore. It's not exactly dynamic drama to have people text messaging back and forth. Reminds me of this that a mate of mine created.

I seem to be going off on a lot of tangents in this entry, don't I?

"Hello Sidney..."

And so it begins.

This is probably one of the defining moments of the entire trilogy. The franchise's first true indication that not only have the characters within it seen horror movies, but that they know the clichés that you yell at the TV screen as you watch one. To the mysterious voice's question of "What's your favourite scary movie?" she replies:

What's the point? They're all the same - some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who's always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door. It's insulting.

"Are you alone in the house?"
"Randy, that's so unoriginal. I'm disappointed in you."
"Maybe that's because... I'm not Randy."
"So who are you?"
"The question isn't who am I, the question is where am I?"
"So... where are you?"
"Your front porch."

I am on the record for thinking Kevin Williamson's script is very, very good (Oscar-worthy, even - well, nomination worthy). Dialogue like this is just so spine-tingling. Gets me everytime. Those moments where the caller says "Maybe that's because... I'm not Randy," and "Your front porch" so nonchalantly are just as creepy as "I wanna know who I'm looking at" from the opening scene.

Despite knowing that stupid girls run upstairs in horror movies, Sidney apparently doesn't know the unofficial (it's not in Randy's speech later in the movie, but it is a valid "rule" and one that Ghostface acknowledged in our last encounter with him) that you should never go outside to investigate (whether it be "a strange noise" or to call a mysterious phone caller's bluff). Not only could she have easily been attacked right then and there she left her front door wide open for someone to enter. Sidney falls victim to the rules of a horror movie despite being a smarter cookie than most.

"If you hang up on me you'll die just like your mother. Do you wanna die, Sidney? Your mother sure didn't!"

Yikes. Not a friendly mysterious phone caller, is he?

I like the story about how Harvey Weinstein apparently thought the "Ghostface" mask was stupid and demanded it changed, but then once he actually saw a scene with it he promptly changed his mind. There's something so disconcerting about seeing this odd-looking Halloween costume used as the mask of evil in a film. Especially since at the time of originally seeing Scream all the horror titles I had watched were of either fantastical originals (Freddy Krueger and various other killer dolls/ghouls/ghosts) or inhuman beings like Jason Vorhees, Michael Meyers or zombies/vampires. Even the "real life" horror villains I had seen had elements of outside forces to them such as Carrie. I don't recall seeing a horror film in which the killer was quite clearly a human with normal human abilities and all that jazz. And wearing this sort of cheap mask gives it an extra "what the fuck?!?" sensibility to it that really ramps up the scariness.

There Sidney goes, running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door (how insulting!) Alas, at least she tried to go out the front door, but damn those chain locks! Worse than deadbolts, I swear! Still, it is fun seeing Sidney succumb to the very cliche she chides horror movie heroines from doing. Note that the "big breasted girl" of this movie, Tatum, has the most original and unclichéd death of them all! Tatum may break the common sense rule of "don't try to escape through a cat flap", but it's certainly not a cliché.

There's that weird design flaw again! It works so well, doesn't it?

Oh hai Billy! Fancy seeing you here.

What intrigues me most about this scene is what purpose it serves. Were Stu and Billy really trying to kill Sidney in this scene or was it merely a way to frighten her? If they were really trying to kill her why didn't they try harder? If it was merely a rouse to frighten here then Stu (the one in the mask) seemed to be trying awful hard to get to her. It would make sense that the plan all along was to have the final climax to their plan take place as it does later in the movie, but what if this plan to merely frighten her went wrong and they were injured or killed? And so it goes...

...did Billy deliberately drop his phone so that he would become a suspect only to be released and to make Sidney feel bad? What if Billy being arrest backfired and they actually discovered something that made them believe he killed Casey and Steve like the police question him over (a couple of scenes ahead of myself here).

It seems to me that Stu knew Tatum was going to be picking up Sidney at some point and that's why they had to do their attack earlier than they did with Casey and Steve, but then Tatum was late so were they running behind, too? They really were a bit cocky, weren't they? I guess the trick is that Sidney (and Casey, for that matter) live in houses surrounded by vast nothingness so it'd be easy for them to get away if interrupted. Actually, fun fact! The Becker house is right next door to the house in Cujo!

This scene brings up so many questions related to logic, and yet I still just do not care because it's a fantastic sequence and one that sets so much up so perfectly. One last piece of confusing logic...

Why is Deputy Dewey holding the mask up like that? That just seems cruel to whoever he expects to open the door!

But, then again, it is Deputy Dewey and who can't find him adorable?

No one!

Intro, Scene 1 Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6


JJ said...

Quick question- what does Tatum practice?

Alas, splendid job! You hit all the right notes!

Wings said...

Hah! Great review of this scene. My take on why, if the two guys were not going to seriously hurt Sidney yet is that Stu was a bit off-the-rails mentally already. Maybe he just got so wrapped up in it he didn't care about the plan he and Billy had and just want wacko for a bit. Logical to me!

Vertigo said...

One of my favourite scenes from the first movie, and also on of the best.

That weird thing with Dewey holding the mask was bothered me for YEARS, but I guess it's just for the "jump moment". Maybe not for us, but definitely for Sid : )

Glenn Dunks said...

JJ, we never know...

Wings, Stu is definitely unhinged to begin with so that would make sense.

Vertigo, obviously, but it's still silly.

Anonymous said...

I always figured Tatum as a field hockey gal, and about ten times more interesting than Syd. Syd has to be about the least compelling character ever to have a franchise assembled around her.

Trentemoller said...

I think the reason you did not see the girl on the bus before you bought the DVD is because I'm guessing you used to watch it on your VHS before that.

VHS is 4:3 and DVD is 16:9.. she was probably cut off from the screen!

Good work, btw! love this Scene by Scene thing

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