25 years on, this is a classic 4 Stars

This year (2021) marks the 25th anniversary of Scream, a glorious invention from the minds and creativity of director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson. With Scream, not only did they create a fresh entry for the horror genre, with delightful self-awareness and relatable characterizations, but they laid the ground for a compelling universe that would carry through three sequels in Craven’s lifetime, and a fifth film in the series set to arrive in 2022. The film is clever and that’s so rare a thing to say for horror films. Craven seems to have been an expert at finding unique perspectives for the genre-his A Nightmare on Elm Street made that clear-and with Scream, he crafted a horror film that was fun, funny, frightening, and fascinating. And while landlines may seem like a bizarre concept to newer audiences, this film stands the test of time. On 4k, the film has never looked better and is an easy recommend for fans and newcomers alike.

Scream (1996)
Released: 20 Dec 1996
Rated: R
Runtime: 111 min
Director: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Writer(s): Kevin Williamson
Plot: A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.
IMDB rating: 7.3
MetaScore: 65

Disc Information
Studio: Miramax
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 51 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Digital Copy
Case Type: Standard 4k with sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 10/19/2021
MSRP: $19.99

The Production: 4/5

“Now Sid, don’t you blame the movies. Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!”

The brutal double murder of two high school students by a ghost-masked killer dressed in black grips the town of Woodsboro. Young Sidney (Neve Campbell), still reeling from the murder of her mother the year before, becomes the target of the killer. A tabloid journalist, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), is sniffing around, inexperienced Deputy Dewey (David Arquette), is doing his best to keep things in order, and Sidney’s boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich) is a one-time suspect, and with her father out of town, and a collection of high school friends and others all potential suspects, Sidney has the odds stacked against her.

Scream was a glorious return to the top of the box office and horror form for Wes Craven and a brilliantly constructed example, and examination, of the classic horror film. With characters aware of all the traditional horror film cliches, Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson have considerable fun playing around with those conventions, twisting, and meandering them, and letting several play out unabated with a wink, but never at the expense of the genuine frights.

Craven’s work here is wonderfully creative, his staging expert, and his grasp of the thrill and joy of being scared never more confidently realized. The young cast are all well-chosen. Neve Campbell is strong and vulnerable, Skeet Ulrich sufficiently ambivalent in his motives as Billy, Matthew Lillard as Billy’s friend, Stuart, is full of elastic energy that works wonders, Courtney Cox eventually likable as Gale Weathers, and David Arquette’s Dewey, while not a believable deputy, is endearing and good as a little comic relief. And of course, Drew Barrymore’s role and performance still something special.

The horror genre goes through periods of bland, repetitive, creatively bankrupt trips around the same roundabout, but there are times, sometimes brief, when a movie comes along and shakes things up and gives horror fans a period of resurgent inventiveness, even if many of the bits and pieces are the same. Wes Craven, like John Carpenter, has gifted us more than one of those periods, and I’d say Scream’s meta playfulness in the genre helped sharpen the storytelling ideas for horror films, or at least work harder and smarter to generate the scares.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Scream has never looked particularly good on home video. It’s always been sharp, and it was one of my earliest prized DVDs, but the look of the film was always ‘off.’ This new 4K release courtesy of Paramount (and their acquisition of a good deal of the troubled Miramax’s library), is clearly superior. Wes Craven shot on film, and the new 4K digital intermediary (DI) gives the film a natural clarity and certainly the closest this film has looked to its theatrical exhibition than any previous release. The Dolby Vision grading (if you are so equipped, HDR if you’re not), punches up the black levels and enriches the colors – greens particularly – throughout. Flesh tones are warm but natural, and there is still something different about the way this film looks to others from the era, but that’s more Craven’s approach with cinematographer Mark Irwin. It’s a brighter than you’d expect horror film which is just another of the creative choices that entertainingly sets Scream apart and why it’s recognized as shot in the arm of the horror genre.

Audio: 4.5/5

The audio for Scream impresses with a solid English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio option. This is the same audio available on the previous Blu-ray release, outside of Dolby Atmos, this is a deliciously all-in sonic presentation. It features well placed surround effects, healthy and low frequency effects, clear dialogue primarily in the center channel, and a terrific showcase of one of composer Marco Beltrami’s finest film scores. Beltrami has scored many films and delivered superb music, including Mimic, The Homesman, and A Quiet Place and its sequel, but there’s something special about his score for Scream, the first of many collaborations with Wes Craven before the director passed away.

This is an involving audio presentation and offers the viewer a real treat with jolts and booms and crashes and bursts of creepy, unsettling, and alternately melodic score that pulls you into the film just as much as it did when released now 25 years.

Special Features: 3/5

Mostly a repeat of the previous Blu-ray’s special features, there is one new (short) extra included in the form of a slight retrospective of the film’s legacy. The audio commentary by Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson is interesting, but that’s about the best of what’s on offer.

  • A Bloody Legacy: Scream25 Years Later— NEW!
  • Audio commentary by director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson
  • Production featurette
  • Behind the Scenes
    • On the ScreamSet
    • Drew Barrymore
  • Q&A with Cast and Crew
    • What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?
    • Why are People so Fascinated by Horror Films?

Overall: 4.5/5

This year (2021) marks the 25th anniversary of Scream, a glorious invention from the minds and creativity of director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson. With Scream, not only did they create a fresh entry for the horror genre, with delightful self-awareness and relatable characterizations, but they laid the ground for a compelling universe that would carry through three sequels in Craven’s lifetime, and a fifth film in the series set to arrive in 2022. The film is clever and that’s so rare a thing to say for horror films. Craven seems to have been an expert at finding unique perspectives for the genre-his A Nightmare on Elm Street made that clear-and with Scream, he crafted a horror film that was fun, funny, frightening, and fascinating. And while landlines may seem like a bizarre concept to newer audiences, this film stands the test of time. On 4k, the film has never looked better and is an easy recommend for fans and newcomers alike.

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Published by

Neil Middlemiss

editor