Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 31 of Scream (1:24:14-1:37:37)

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

Length: 13min 13secs
Primary Characters: Sidney Prescott, Billy Loomis, Stu Macher, Gale Weathers, Randy Meeks and Mr Prescott
Pop Culture References:
  • Psycho (Billy quotes it)
  • Carrie (Billy mentions it when describing his faked death)
  • Hannibal Lecter (Billy mentions him during his motive)
  • Sharon Stone (Sidney's mum is "no Sharon Stone")
  • Halloween (it continues to play on the TV)
  • Terror Train (Sidney bites Stu's hand in identical fashion to this film)

And so we come, as we inevitably must, to the big final showdown. I'd be getting misty-eyed if I didn't know we still had two films to cover yet. Alas, we still have a few scenes to go in Scream so let's get straight to it.

This was supposed to be Dewey's swan song, but the makers changed their minds when they decided he was a great character (and that Arquette was great at portaying him). Imagining if they had killed him off can lead you down a rabbit hole of various plot strands, theories and alternate takes on the franchise. What would the other films have been like? Hmmm....

Of course, this is another really poor moment of audio dubbing where Sidney's voice screams "Dewey!", but her mouth says "No!" Bless cheap horror flicks.

The Sidney-in-the-car bit is really quite silly, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I like how Ghostface clearly thinks he has the upper hand. There are so many things he could have done to get Sidney, but instead he (it's Stu again, obviously) acts quite nonchalant about the whole situation, knowing she can't get away and knowing that she needs to be alive for "the big reveal.

That knife tap on the window and the jangle of the keys is so perversely cruel.

And, can I just say, having watched just this small sequence in the cop car over and over in slow motion, I actually think it might be Neve Campbell's best acting moment in the entire trilogy. The looks she expresses on her face are incredible, like when she realises there's no keys in the ignition or when the killer dangles the keys in front of her. Very fine work, Neve!

Of course, that silliness I mentioned is the very reason it works. The way the killer is somehow able to produce phantom like abilities and movie about unnoticed and, my particular favourite, the way lot of horror movie characters seem to have absolutely no peripheral vision. As Sidney reaches over to lock drivers side door, it seems quite obvious that Sidney would notice the big back boot door swinging open and yet, like most horror movie characters who can never notice someone until they are tapping them on the shoulder Sidney doesn't see it. Makes me laugh.

I'd be suspicious, too!

I love this moment of Randy and Stu trying to place the blame on the other. I mean, at this point it's fairly obvious that it's at least one of them and, let's face it, Stu is as obvious a candidate as you can get since we saw Ghostface very nearly kill Randy. But, then, you never could tell since some things defy explanation (like how Billy/Stu knew about Gale's accident... more on that in a little bit).

Now that's some dedication right there! Billy would've been kicking himself if he had injured himself whilst performing this last act of pretending to be innocent.

Now to prove my naivete, when I first saw Scream I thought this was just a really bad gaff on the filmmakers behalf by not having Billy's shirt be slashed. I hadn't noticed it when Billy got stabbed upstairs, but I noticed it this time. Of course, now it's all quite obvious and so instead of thinking I am stupid for not noticing I deflect my stupidity towards Sidney for also not noticing it. Silly woman.

"Stu's flipped out, he's gone mad!"

"We all go a little mad sometimes."

"Oh fuck!"

Oh fuck, indeed, Randy! Also, I hadn't realised how identical the two shots of Randy were until I added them. Oh well.

Love this moment, doesn't everyone? Such a great little moment, made even more perfect by...

"Anthony Perkins, Psycho."

It's the scratching the itch with a gun that makes it. Like, he really has gone mad that he doesn't even care about, perhaps, accidentally shooting himself in the head.

That shot right there is Sidney realising "Oh shit, I just bonked a mad man." Serves her right for having that hair cut, don't you think? Still, if you're going to root around with a serial killing crazy person you might as well make it Skeet Ulrich, don't you think? I mean, isn't it kind of weird how he only gets hot once he's "gone mad"? Perhaps that says something about me...?

"Mmmm, corn syrup. Same stuff they use for pig's blood in Carrie."

Well duh!

No, but seriously, I'm not going to sit here typing away and pretend that I figured it out. I really didn't. Mostly because I had no idea what the fuck I was watching, in all honesty, but I'm sure I was all "no way!" at the big reveal of who the killers were. I mean, as I've kept saying, it seems so obvious watching it now and someone new to the film, but who has had a steady diet of horror films, may be able to pick it, but as one of the first major horror films I ever saw (and probably one of the first where we didn't already know who the killer was, like "Michael Myers" or "Jason Voorhees", my memory is a little fuzzy on the issue) it blew me away.

Of course, Stu (nor Billy) sound anything like the voice on the phone, but what can you do?

Don't they make a nice couple? It's amazing that some people can't see the overt homoeroticism in this movie between Billy and Stu.

"Why? WHY? Did you hear that Stu, I think she wants a motive. I don't really believe in motives, Sid. I mean, did Norman Bates have a motive?"
"Did they ever really decide why Hannibal Lecter liked to eat people? DON'T THINK SO!"

I actually think this is one of the best line readings in the whole movie. Skeet Ulrich never really did much for me performance wise through the film, but once he was able to go fully insane it totally clicked. I like this bit, however, because it merges the casualness that he and Stu brought to the proceedings with moments of insanity tearing through as he screams, until he very soon just lets the floodgates open.

"We did your mom a favour, Sid. That woman was a slut-bag whore who flashed her shit all over town like she was Sharon Stone or somethin'."
"Yeah, we put her out of her misery because, let's face it Sidney, your mother no Sharon Stone!"

That line is so hilarious and offensive in so many ways, but that's the entire point. And, of course, there's Kevin Williamson's crush on Sharon Stone emerging its head again. It's a shame they didn't carry that joke on through the other movies, actually. I wonder what Billy and Stu would think of Sharon Stone these days. You know, if they were alive.

He's such a nutjob, but that's why we like him! Of course, he telling Sidney that she "gave it up" means that all three of Randy's rules get broken since Randy and Sidney probably drank, Sidney had sex and Gale said "I'll be right back". And yet, at the same time, they were all adhered too.

"It's a scream baby! Hold on, I'll be right back!"

Oh Stu.

There's always been this belief that the end of Scream, this kitchen sequence is excessively violent. Even a lot of the positive reviews at the time mentioned how it got too violent at the climax, and yet this is these are the only direct shots of someone being stabbed by that knife in this sequence. The rest are all off screen. Oh sure, there's a lot of blood - and a lot of that is the fake blood all over Billy - and sounds, but not so much actual on screen violence.

"These days ya gotta have a sequel"? These days? It's pretty much always been like that, especially in the horror genre. I'm glad though that they held off the "sequels suck" discussion until the actual sequel instead of having Billy and Stu muse on what they'll do to make a sequel that doesn't suck.

"You sick fucks, you've seen one to many movies."
"Now Sid, don't you blame the movies. Movies don't create psychos, movies make psychos more creative."

This quote, I think, actually ties in to the entry I posted yesterday about the relatively weak rating of local horror film The Loved Ones, in which I discussed how - at least in America - violence is seen as a weaker cinematic device than sex. Movies surely make people more creative when it comes to violence and sex! Who could watch something like Lust Caution and not have the thoughts run through their mind of what it would be like to be that creative in the bedroom.

But this line truly speaks to the theory that all violent criminals were already going to be violent criminals and that, say, the kids in the Bolger murder case didn't need Child's Play to set them off. Or the much ballyhooed idea that kids playing violent computer games is going to set them up for a life of gutless thuggery and brutal violence. Would Billy have been a violent person if Sidney's mother hadn't slept his Billy's father, making his mother leave? The dormant violent person in him clearly snapped, but it wasn't because of the movies. So many people try and put film and television and games as the catalyst, but outside of maybe a few isolated cases I think it's very much as Billy put it.

I was always surprised Scream wasn't rated R18+ since the film isn't as polished as other horror films, including Scream 2, and it can be that real grunginess that lends itself to harsher ratings. If a film is seen as "smaller" then harsher ratings are possible. Of course, we've come a long way from the days of horror movies getting slapped with R18+ ratings willy nilly. How about John Carpenter's 1978 original Halloween being rated R18+ when, if released today, it would probably be a much less restrictive M15+ (equivalent, sorta, to PG13). Aah, the many ins and outs of film classifications. Where would we be without them? Probably resting far easier knowing we don't have that silly system to mock all the time.

The sound work of this sequence is really solid. The slashes and the stabs, obviously, but I love this little closeup of Stu's hand covered in blood and you can actually hear the drops of blood dripping from his fingers and landing on the flood.

Gale, you crazy, amazing, badass broad! "Right here, asshole!"

Now, here is what we discussed last time. Billy says "I thought she was dead" and Stu goes "she looked dead, man. Still does." No one in the comments of 30 seemed to be able to explain how Stu was able to not only know Gale had been in an accident with her van crashing into a tree, but also knowing that she looked dead. The positions of Billy and Stu can be pretty well plotted: After Stu killed Kenny the Cameraman, Sidney escaped trying to run away from the house. At this time Stu must've gone back inside the house, at which time Dewey and Gale split up, she going to her van and he inside the Macher house. As Gale drives away Sidney tries to get her attention, she drives off the road and Sidney runs back to the house wherein she discovers Dewey stabbed by Stu. She then hides in the car and is attacked, mere moments later Stu is standing in front of her in plain clothes. At no point would Stu have been able to run down the road, discover Gale's van and check on her, then running back to the house for the whole big reveal shenanigans.

It makes no sense.

Each film in the trilogy has one moment that defies logic, sense, time and space. Scream 2 has the baffling killer-in-the-car-accident-who-disappears-then-reappears-to-stab-Hallie-yet-somehow-neither-she-nor-Sidney-noticed moment and Scream 3 has the scene where Gale check's Roman's pulse only to have him return later very much alive. For the original it is this scene that makes no sense and it bugs me to this very day.

Dewey is meant to be dead in this shot because they hadn't yet decided to keep him alive, but I like that even in supposed death Gale and Dewey would have ended up in each other's arms (well, she in his lap, technically).

You know what I said just before about the sound of blood dripping from Stu's hand? I reiterate it for this moment. That neck crack is just... aagh. Like nails on a chalkboard.

I like that they incorporated the telephone back into the scene since it all started with it. That's always been my one beef with Scream 2, neither the opening nor the closing utilise the phone, which is something that is so ingrained in the DNA of the film.

"Peer pressure. I'm far too sensitive."

Matthew Lillard's improvisation of "you fuckin' hit me with the phone, DICK!" is surely one of the best moments in the entire trilogy, yes? So funny and insane and so indicative of the way their plans are unravelling and how Billy was, quite obviously, far more insane than Stu had probably thought.

I don't think Sidney and her father are hiding in the couch cushions, Billy!

"Did you really call the police?"
"You bet your sorry ass I did."
"My mom and dad and gonna be so mad at me!"

Without a doubt, Matthew Lillard owns this big scene, doesn't he? He has so many great lines and reads them all with such relish and energy.

Yet again the incorporation of the Halloween soundtrack works perfectly. The way it makes us think "oh the sound was just the TV" and then BOOM out flies another Ghostface.

I'd always found it silly that Sidney decided to wear a Ghostface costume for this moment, but then it dawned on me that Stu must've just had one hanging up in the downstairs coat closet of his house and now I smile and chuckle at the thought of Stu coming home from butchering his principal or his ex girlfriend and then hanging the costume up in the closet. Can't have it creased now, can we?

I hope he didn't use wire hangers!

Stu's not finished yet!

This punch moment is, strangely, the most uneasy moment of the whole scene. You just don't see movies very often where the heroine gets punched in the face? Although, I recently rewatched David Fincher's Panic Room (which I love) and, again, the scene in which Kristen Stewart gets punched in the face is the most shocking out of everything. Perhaps that says something about me? I'm not too sure.

As an aside, I was never aware that Sidney's hand bite was actually a reference to another movie. Just a couple of weeks ago I actually saw Roger Spotiswoode's Terror Train on DVD. It's one of the videos that Randy brought along to the party and it stars Jamie Lee Curtis who takes a staggeringly odd graduation celebratory train ride through the Canadian mountainside. As she and all her friends are on the train someone starts murdering them all. And then there's David Copperfield, who doesn't really make any sense, but I guess he needed to exposure at the time? I quite liked it as those sort of films go and it has a great twist ending (albeit one that I predicted). Take a peak at the trailer if you've never seen it - I love that opening bit with the train emerging in the night with the steam looking like a blue fog.

"I always had a thing for ya, Sid!" another great line from Stu. RIP Stu, you were a blast! Let's be thankful that you never returned.

Intro, Scene 1 Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14, Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30


Wings said...

Wow, I am continually impressed by how much detail you find. Kudos.

And yeah, Terror Train has always been a favorite of mine. Saw it waaaaaaaaaay back when and it scared the beejeebus out of my little mind.

Lust said...

Haha. You know if you pause right before the tv hits Stu on the head, you can see a very obvious dummy smiling up at you.

Anthony said...

Too bad Scream 2 and 3 didn't have nearly as good final acts as this movie did.

Here's hoping Scream 4 does.

Spike said...

I was surprised not to see the screenshot of Stu's reaction to when Billy reveals that Sid's mother was fucking his father and that that's why his mom left him. Matthew Lillard completely nailed that reaction. You can tell Stu is hearing Billy’s motive for the very first time and he’s completely taken aback by it in that one single moment. I love how it reveals the level of Stu’s insanity in that he went along with Billy’s plan to commit a murder spree despite not even knowing Billy’s motive.