The day of horror programming we've been waiting for has finally arrived!
After major anticipation, the MTV series Scream premiered tonight and introduced smart-analytical horror to a new generation, and yes…it was killer. Now let’s hop right in to the pilot, shall we? The episode begins with a shot of a lake, where mist permeates from the water as a haunting voice softly sings “Daisy..Daisy..give me your answer, do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you” and on that note I’m instantly intrigued and creeped out, and that’s before even seeing a single character. The fade out takes us to a video going viral of two girls kissing that is titled “Audrey’s face suck extravaganza” because teenagers are usually known for being a class act, right? The video accumulates views and comments that alter between ignorance and attraction, and we see Audrey staring down the social media spectacle she has now become, and you can imagine she’s not too pleased. We are then shown the culprit of the video, Nina (played by Bella Thorne) who is dropped off by her boyfriend and boasts of their acts. When he hopes to join her while her parents are out of town, she tells him he has served his purpose for the evening. Nina proceeds to enter her phenomenal house (I mean this is some dream home material people) and begins to change to get in the hot tub, when she receives a snapchat of herself changing. Before she can react, a text is received from her boyfriend’s phone that responds to her mumbling to herself. Nina begins to wander her house and is followed by the killer who sends other clips of her, and a text that reads “Maybe you’ll get more views than Audrey.” Thinking her boyfriend is playing a game, she states she’ll be outside in the hot tub, and begins to enter, when the patio light goes out. Nina stands to tease him, and gets in the hot tub after a brief robe strip tease. Nina’s phone dings again, and her boyfriend’s phone texts “heads up” before the lights go out momentarily and his severed head hits the water. Is anyone else loving the cat & mouse aspect Scream is creating already? I sure am!
Nina shrieks as she clings to her phone and runs for safety in a dark area. She attempts to unlock her phone, but wet hands puts a damper on that idea (see what I did there?) She tries to use siri to call 911, which it humorously responds “calling, Pottery Barn.” Before Nina can actually find a way back into her house, her back is severely sliced, and she crawls away, begging for her life. The killer grabs her and uses the trademark hunting knife to cut her throat open, which Thorne’s portrayal of the scene makes you feel for her despite being that trademark mean-girl. The killer tosses her body into the pool where she begins to bleed out, and we see the new and redefined killer in a close-up angle, before the Scream title card kicks in. Just like that, MTV proves it is willing to get bloody, and dark, welcome to Scream. Cut to Emma (our series lead) having a make-out session with her boyfriend Will who should be studying for a test to maintain his chance at a basketball scholarship. Emma tries to regain focus and mentions that he should have shown up last night (red herring #1, or #2 if you count Audrey) and he gives a half-assed explanation of being tied up. After Will leaves, we are introduced to Emma’s mother who we quickly learn has a flirtation with Sheriff Clark and she is the town coroner, that’s a recipe for trouble if I’ve EVER heard one.
Audrey arrives to school, and instantly whips out her camera (she’s an aspiring director) to record the people who whisper and stare at her, and her friend Noah rushes to her and jokingly quips that he wish he knew his best friends sexuality, but she dismisses it. She asks if his tech-skills could track the culprit of the video, but he has already tried with no helpful results. We are then introduced to Emma’s group of friends which include: Brooke, who gives of a flirtatious and also uninterested vibe that I already like, Jake, a jock who finds humor at the cost of others (in the best way possible), and Riley who has a more meek demeanor. They discuss their hand in the video, and admit they all had an involvement in at least some capacity. They come to the conclusion that it must have been Nina (sure blame the dead girl… even though it was her.)
During one of their classes where Brooke is giving her teacher seductive glances, gothic literature is being discussed and he states “nobody wants to sit around and read 500 pages about monks and curses, but no one is making you sit around and watch the Walking Dead.” New student Kieran (who is giving us a smoldering Billy Loomis vibe for sure) speaks out in agreement with the teacher that the horror genre is all over television, citing AHS, Hannibal, etc. Noah chimes in claiming that a slasher film can’t be done as a TV series, and explains the final girl in the bloodbath scenario. This self deprecation is exactly what Scream did for the slasher film genre, and now Scream starts out with a bang by addressing the television aspect of horror today. While we listen to his monologue of TV needing to stretch things out, Nina’s mother arrives home and finds her daughters lifeless body in the pool before letting out a scream.
Once it becomes public knowledge that Nina is dead, the students find themselves awaiting mandatory grief counseling, when Jake mentions that people are speculating the return of Brandon James. Noah explains to new guy Kieran (and the viewers) that 20 years ago a young man with facial deformities lived a life of solitude, and wore a surgical mask after surgeries attempting to alter his appearance. Brandon fell for a girl his age named Daisy and approached her, when she got a closer look at his face, her shocked reaction sent her screaming, and led to jocks assaulting him. Brandon snapped shortly after which lead him to kill multiple students, and Brandon decided to meet Daisy at the lake where she plead for him to turn himself in. He coyly hands her a necklace he made, before being shot and sending his body into the lake, “you promised you weren’t going to hurt him” Daisy says to the police, showing her involvement in his demise. Though nobody knew of who Daisy really was, we cut to Emma’s mother opening a box containing the necklace with Daisy carved in. Girl you can guarantee you and your daughter are in serious trouble
The group of students in present day discuss Nina’s death and how they believe Tyler may be responsible (sorry, he’s a little headless at the moment). During everyone’s moment of grief, Brooke carelessly asks if one keg is enough for the Nina memorial. And on that note, I really Brooke her already. Having an inside source to info, Emma tells her friends that Tyler is missing and believed as the primary suspect by police. When Brooke asks Jake what he was up to that evening, he says he was with Will, and Emma catches Will in a lie. I’m thoroughly convinced he isn’t the killer in any way, he has red herring written all over him. Emma leaves to find Audrey and hopefully repair their fractured middle school friendship by inviting her to Brooke’s memorial party for Nina, which is really just a party.
Will tracks down Jake and asks him to delete the files they had involving Nina, which Jake mentions that Will is just as involved as he is. Before you can come to any conclusions, Brooke is shown strutting in to her teacher’s classroom and plays up her grief card, and he mentions that their “studying” needs to cease while there are investigations. Brooke doesn’t take that news well, and proceeds to seduce him in to her way of thinking very quickly.
We find Emma getting ready to leave her house for the party, when a knock at the door leaves her staring at a small box with a note for Daisy on their porch mat. She asks her mom if she may know someone by that name, and she claims it must have been the wrong house. Emma leaves, and her mother opens a note that says her daughter looks just like she did at that age, and finds some sort of an animal heart in a box. Not a cute gesture Brandon James copycat-killer, stay away from my house please. We see Brooke’s house, which is equally as impressive as Nina’s, and pictures of Nina appear on tablets with candles surrounding them, while underage drinking and a wild evening commences. Audrey surprisingly shows up with Noah, and is instantly recognized by everyone so she grabs a bottle of tequila and declares that she’s the one who made out with a girl, before marching outside. Emma and Audrey find each other sitting by the pool and begin to talk, where Audrey explains her relationship with the girl in the video, who has deep insecurities. Audrey quickly follows up with the notion that she isn’t a lesbian and Emma coolly makes the moment comfortable by saying if she and Scarlet Johanson were alone, she would be tempted. Their bond begins to rekindle and they both acknowledge that they miss each other. Possible BFFs in the near future, or serial killer potential? Either is possible. Meanwhile Riley finds Noah and begins to talk space-geek-speak with him, setting up a quirky and adorable relationship with the pair that is doomed from their first encounter.
Emma’s mother brings the sheriff to her house and opens up to him about the Brandon James past, making it the first time she has told anyone. She explains that she was kept out of the police reports and Daisy was merely a family nickname so it wasn’t obvious. Sheriff Clarke asks if Emma’s father could be involved, and she states that he had issues coping after the attack, so he went away because his memories couldn’t. An ominous story sure to develop later on. She expresses her main concern, that Emma is the age she was when the murder spree began, and that it may be starting once again. You betcha Daisy, things are going to get crazy! A smaller group chat takes place remembering Nina, and Will reveals he may be glad she’s gone. When Brooke quips that his life will be easier now, Emma realizes the underlying meaning and walks off where he stops her and admits there is truth to an affair with Nina. He’s just an all around catch apparently.
In a major nod to Tatum, Brooke notices a light flicker in her garage and enters to find a car door open. She shuts it and quickly begins to run towards the door, when Will appears and calms her down before telling her if she ever comes between Emma and him, “I will break you.” Emma finds a greenhouse that appears to be secluded; however Kieran stands alone drinking his beer, and welcomes her to join him. When she questions what brings him to Lakewood, he shares that his mother and stepfather died in a car accident which took him to Lakewood to live with his real father. When she tries to help by shifting the conversation he offers a beer, and Emma shortly jokes about her boyfriend sleeping with the deceased, leading him to reference necrophilia being a bad thing. The two have an instant chemistry, and before she can leave they begin to kiss. All of these romantic pairings are going to break my heart as they are killed I must note.
With Noah being the first to pass out, Jake and company move him to a platform that has floated out in the lake forcing him to swim back to shore. Before he can arrive, he is pulled under water, panicked by the infamous lake. Kieran swims out to save him, and Noah claims that he felt a pull, but they only notice fishing line around his leg. Is he just spooked given the circumstances, or is there a supernatural element added? I’m going with the first option. Audrey takes her friend and leaves, making a passive aggressive dig at Emma, blaming her for the incident. (That was all Jake, who cares he’s a prankster!) Kieran agrees to take Emma home and they see Sheriff Clark Hudson leaving her house who as it turns out is Kieran’s actual father, and things get a little 50 shades of awkward.
Elsewhere, we meet Audrey’s love interest who dotes on Audrey’s bravery for facing people publically and expresses self loathing which actually made me feel extremely sympathetic for the girl, because you know she’s a goner. They share a romantic moment that leads to a kiss, and we see the killer staring from below with a perfect example of creepy cinematography. The next day the sheriff locates Noah and seems uncomfortable with his slasher addiction, proposing he stop by the police station for questioning. After Kieran’s father leaves, Audrey says that Noah could never have killed Nina, and he responds “why not, I hated the way she treated you.” A quick line to raise a red flag for Noah before Riley approaches him hoping to hear how the town’s horror story ends. As he continues his monologue gets extremely meta in the best form by saying you have to care about each character’s life, interactions, and the small details, so that it hurts when they are victims of the savage killings. I’m quickly becoming attached to Noah’s monologues, always offering something to the ongoing story.
In an effort to make things better between them once again, Emma visits Audrey and admits she knew of the viral video but didn’t expect it to be handled that way. Audrey gets visually displeased and called Emma a bitch, storming out. Emma leaves crying, and her phone begins to ring; as Emma answers her phone a chilling voice asks her why she’s crying. Emma becomes anxious realizing he can see her, and the voice reveals that everyone hides behind social media, with dark secrets looming, and his intention is to “lift the mask.” In the final moments of the pilot episode, Noah tells riley over the phone that the new rules are “everyone has secrets, everyone tells lies, and everyone is fair game. Until there’s no one left.” While showing Audrey with a personal photograph of Brandon James, Jake deleting footage reminiscent of the killers recordings of Nina, and Emma who is still being stalked, before we see a final shot of Noah wiping blood off his forehead. What does this all mean?! The first episode set up so many potential storylines for each character, and provided us with just enough horror to keep viewers on the edge of their seat. It is very apparent that MTV’s Scream will follow the formula of the film franchise, but in a version that is maximized for television, and I couldn’t approve more. Thank you for a stellar episode Scream, and make sure you come back for next weeks recap!
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-The show’s meta approach to the horror dynamic on television hit the nail on the head and proves that the series is willing to address the common aspects of horror programming on a weekly basis.
-I can wholeheartedly appreciate the character development that is already beginning on Scream, which is no easy task to achieve in an hour with such a detailed back story, and a cast of characters that all feel of major importance.
-I’m already finding myself with a full-fledged addiction to Scream, much like the film series that inspired this slasher series.
-Although every character has dark sides, I quickly have become attached to some of the most troubled characters like Brooke, Jake, and Kieran.
-Emma will be a fascinating protagonist to follow, being the center of chaos with her family and friends, while hoping to make the right decisions.
-The mask is strikingly creepy, and perfect. I realize that fans were concerned over ditching the old ghostface mask, but this feels authentic to the story and was needed to carve their own take on the Scream franchise.
-The cinematography is one of Screams major successes, providing eerie backgrounds and artistic views of each scene.