Scream: The Halloween Heavyweight Champ


a spookly looking halloween ghost mask

It is once again the time of Jack-o-lanterns and candy bowls. Once a year, kids have the chance to don spooky costumes and stuff their faces with candy. Many take advantage of this time to dust off their favorite scary movies and settle in for two hours of scares and entertainment. One of the most popular movies to watch around October 31st is Scream. Scream has been around for over 20 years, and it is still so prominent today that every year there are dozens of children everywhere dressing up as the iconic Ghostface Killer on Halloween night. Why has it withstood the trials of time? This movie, directed by Wes Craven, is a playfully dark film that has been a fan favorite since it was released in 1996. Scream captures its audience through a perfectly simple plotline and humorous self-awareness.

Scream is the story of a girl named Sidney Prescott. Sidney’s mother had been murdered a year before the events of the film, and her father has to go on a work trip, leaving Sidney alone in her house for the weekend. That seems harmless enough, but the murderer who killed Sidney’s mother has returned and has begun to take the lives of people around town. Sidney has to find out who is killing people before “Ghostface” murders yet another Prescott woman. Meanwhile, the press is following Sidney closely, hoping to get her eye-witness account of the harassment she has faced from the killer. After the nail-biting mystery that the story builds is solved, the movie ends with a wonderfully satisfying finale.

Simplicity is often overlooked in filmmaking. As the years go by, plotlines seem to get more and more complex as one movie tries to top the last by riddling their story with symbols, hidden messages, and subplots. Scream, however, avoided this perfectly. By giving the audience a simple plot, the filmmakers were able to get the viewers invested in the characters and their motivations. While Sidney was piecing together the clues and trying to find the identity of Ghostface, the viewers were also investigating this masked maniac. It is not uncommon for audiences to lose interest in a movie if it is overly simplistic, but by including such a thoroughly composed mystery and final twist, Scream completely avoided this.

Something else that helps this movie stand out from the rest was the use of humor and self awareness that is often omitted from the horror genre. Scary movies are often expected to be serious, to take themselves seriously. Scream completely ignored this idea and decided to take this opportunity to incorporate laughs in between the scares. By taking classic cliches from previous slasher films and mirroring them in a comedic way, this movie caught the attention of audiences everywhere. Finally, a horror film was making fun of itself! Movies that break the mold as this one did are the kind of films that are remembered and loved for decades. 

Scream is an exemplar of what makes Halloween the celebration of happy haunts and bloody fun that it is. It is a movie that everyone can enjoy – though it may not be the best idea to show this film to young children – and it brings the laughs and scares that make Halloween the spectacular holiday that it is supposed to be. It is always a great idea to look back at the classics when it comes to one’s annual horror movie binge. Scream brought new life to the slasher genre that is a staple for any horror lover’s movie collection. There is a reason that the halls of every Halloween store are decked with Ghostface masks and robes. Scream took a simple premise, the cliche horror movie template, and added humor and compelling writing to make a movie like no other.