Before you read ahead, this blog is about the Scream TV Series. It is my thoughts and opinions on the show, and it does contain spoilers, especially towards the end of the blog. Read at your own risk!
One of the many, many things I loved about growing up in our household was that come the weekend, there was some delicious food – quite often my Dad’s homemade fajitas – with Stars in Their Eyes, followed by a video (let’s marvel at that for a moment) or two, selected at our local video rental shop, Blockbuster (a moment of silence please.)
1996 was the year that the modern day slasher movie was reborn with Scream (Wes Craven), when a group of high school students were terrorized by the iconic Ghost Face, an unknown attacker clad in black, with a mask resembling Edvard Munch’s The Scream. I remember that Halloween, everyone, myself included, had the costume. Some were just plain ol’ Ghost Face; others glowed in the dark and some even had a pump in them that spread fake blood over white faces. It was a very popular movie, and even though I was certainly a bit too young to be watching it – but hey, my love of movies came from watching horror films at a young age – I thought it was amazing. I even really enjoyed the sequels, or at least two and three. I never gave four a chance.
I vaguely remembered hearing about a Scream TV show, and at the time feeling fed up that they just couldn’t leave it alone. I had never shown any particular interest in watching it.
Then about two, maybe three weeks ago we were looking for something to watch. Our regular’s have either finished altogether, or we are waiting for the next season to start and we were flicking through Netflix when suddenly, there was what appeared to be a modernized Ghost Face, and for no reason at all, I said “hey, let’s watch Scream. It’s probably rubbish but we might as well give it a go.”
Here’s what I was expecting –
In a modern day Woodsboro, a group of teens are stalked and murdered one by one, on or around the anniversary of the original murders, and in the big reveal, we find out that either the main survivor or the murderer has some connection to Sydney Prescott. There would be a goofy cop and some kind of reporter, and potentially a few guest spots from the original characters. It would get very predictable and very tiring, and unless we absolutely needed to know exactly what was going on, we probably wouldn’t make it past the first season.
Boy, was I wrong.
Instead, we found ourselves in the town of Lakewood, famous for having had a night of terror 20 years earlier when Brandon James, a teenage boy born with facial disfigurements, snapped after having enough of the way his only friend, Daisy, was treat by her boyfriend, and murdered 5 teens whilst wearing what becomes known as the “Brandon James mask”. Obsessed and possibly in love with Daisy, she arranges to meet him to try to persuade him to turn himself in, where is then shot and presumably killed by the police. 20 Years later, and Daisy – or Maggie, as she is more commonly known – is a single parent with a teenage daughter, Emma.
Two of Emma’s friends are brutally murdered after a cyber bullying incident, and thus starts another killing spree, that reveals Maggie’s hidden past – Emma does not know about her involvement with Brandon James – but also brings together a group of teens, who will forever be connected by the gruesome events.
The show presented many familiar horror techniques and I felt an almost sense of DeJa Vu as I watched, and at the same time, this predictability was almost comforting, like meeting up with an old friend in a strange place.
Some of these traits included the following –
- The characters – There are group of popular kids : Emma, the main girl and pals Brooke, Jake, Will, Riley, and so on. The appear to live the perfect lives on the outside, but once the killing starts, the truth comes out; The misfits/nerds: Audrey, Noah, Eli, Gustav, and possibly Kieran could be included in this, as he is dark and brooding, and is a bit of an outsider at first; The “authority” figures: Maggie, Mr Branson, Mayor Maddox, Sheriff Hudson, Sheriff Acosta, and Piper. Of course throughout the two seasons, we loose characters, and meet new ones. The split between the popular and the misfits is lost, as they become a close group of friends. I loved all of the characters, particularly Audrey, Noah – the film geek with a talent for computer hacking – and Brooke. I think there is a point where you become suspicious of every character, spending time outlining why they may or may not be the killer. EVERYONE is a suspect.
- The Killer – A masked maniac making creepy phone calls and sneaking around whilst your back is turned? You bet! Complete with voice altering software, this killer makes you never want to answer an “unknown caller” again!
- The Mask – As mentioned previously, the mask is called The Brandon James mask and it looks very much like the Ghost Face Mask. At first I thought they had just modernized it a bit, but this one comes with it’s own interesting back story. Further more, it should be noted that Brandon James’ spree took place in around about 1994, and the Woodsboro murders were around about 1996 so it is possible to theorize that the Ghost Face mask was actually based on the Brandon James mask, and not the other way around. Of course, the film Scream was made prior to the show, so it would never have been mentioned in the trilogy, and the Woodsboro murders are never mentioned in the show either, something which I was expecting.
- The mistakes – I love watching stuff like this just so I can shout things like “didn’t you learn anything the last time?!” to “Yeah, that seems like a good idea!”. Yes, these mistakes are made in most teen slasher movies, and you watch in despair as you think “I would never do that!” and hoping that you actually wouldn’t. Here are just a few… “Let’s split up, it will be faster”. How about no? Stay together, or else you can almost always guarantee that someone will turn up stabbed, hanging from the ceiling or face down in a pool, and what’s more you won’t know which one of your friends did it, because when you separated, they ran off to get into costume! “Let’s go into this creepy, abandoned place, that will no doubt hold important answers, whilst it’s dark and without telling anyone!” Here’s an idea – if you really think that this place will enlighten you, why not go during the day? Also, you could take lots of weapons, a big group of people, and maybe tell your parents first? But please don’t act surprised when the killer turns up and butchers you. “I’ve only just met this person, but they seem super nice so I’m going to entrust my deepest secrets to them, and maybe even fall in love with them!” Does it not seem a bit odd that that person is so interested in your when they have only known you five minutes? Someone is killing your friends off one by one, maybe slow down in making new ones! And my personal favorite during this show, “Oh, a text from my bestest friend, asking me to meet them somewhere alone. That sounds great, especially since the killer has phone hacking software, and can pretty much pretend to be someone else, but that’s obviously not what’s happening now.” I tell you what, why don’t you just call that person first and double check it’s them, instead of wandering into the woods, or closed down fun fair, or going pretty much anywhere?! Yes, these mistakes are frustrating, but the satisfaction of shouting “I told you so” at the TV is priceless!
Yes, there are many things about this show that we have all seen before, from the aforementioned, to the sleepy town of Lakewood with it’s eerie past to the brutal way the killer chooses to end lives, to the first murder, a clear homage (one of many) to Casey Becker’s murder in the first film. I think this is why I loved it so much. It took us no time at all to watch both seasons, finding it hard to stop some nights! This slasher formula is not lost on any of us, and it works so well in this show, because it has it’s own story. If it had been a continuation of the original Scream movies then it would indeed be a tad repetitive, but the new, unrelated story and characters give it a refreshing look.
Now, let’s talk about the killer. At first glance, you think this person is out for revenge on the popular kids when Nina and Tyler are murdered after releasing footage of Audrey kissing girlfriend Rachel. From there, the varying murders point to different characters, but by the end of the first we season we know the following –
The murderer has something to do with Brandon James, and is out to get Daisy; The Mayor is being blackmailed for getting rid of a dead body; Jake is the blackmailer; Kieran is the new kid in school, he is charming but brooding, and strangely never seems to be around when the killer strikes; Piper, the new journalist in town and the voice Podcast Autopsy of a Crime is very friendly but considerably more caring than most journalists in her situation; we assume there are two killers, at least one of them male.
Before the big reveal in the season finale, our guesses are Piper and either Jake or Kieran. The tense last episode of the first season reveals that we were half right! Piper is Emma’s half sister, and her father was Brandon James (making her mother Maggie/Daisy) who feels hatred for Emma comes from the fact that Maggie gave her up for adoption. She was young and the baby was that of a serial killer, she didn’t feel she had much choice. Just before her death, she states that she has one last surprise for Emma, and we are left wondering who the second killer is.
The murders in the second season, whilst similar to the first season, are an attempt to make Emma and Audrey look like the guilty party, in attempt to take revenge against them for killing Piper. Jake is killed early on, so we know it’s not him. We know that it isn’t Audrey or Emma though and so again spend our time creating our own mental “murder boards” (See Noah) and wonder could it be Zoe? Could the second killer be another female? She wasn’t in the first season but when she steals an audio clip of Audrey admitting that she knew Piper, and then the clip gets sent to Emma, it does make you wonder. She is cleared though, and then sadly for Noah, his second love interest is murdered.
The main suspects for us through the 2nd season were new comer Eli (Kieran’s creepy cousin who, it turns out was in Lakewood when the previous murders were taking place) and Stavo, who has talent for drawing the both the victims and the survivors in various horrifying postilions. For the same reasons as in the first season, Kieran is also still high up on the list. By the big reveal, we had figured out it was either Eli or Kieran, and when Eli is shot and wounded by Emma, we knew it was Kieran.
Kieran trips himself up by stating that Emma will feel safe again, after the killer had told her that she would never feel safe again. It is the use of the similar phrasing that makes her realize it is him, but to be completely honest, I felt that this was a bit rushed and bit forced. In all of the trauma, would it have all clicked in together in that split second? I’m not so sure. I’ll let you know what I think should have happened later in the post.
As it turns out, the already unstable Kieran met Piper, who convinced him to join her on a killing spree in Lakewood. When Audrey and Emma killed Piper, he decided to take it further, taunting them and making them look like the guilty party. He is sentenced to 10 back to back life terms and you finally let out a sigh of relief that it might actually be over. At the end of the episode, Kieran receives a phone call from someone using the classic killers voice, asking “who told you you could wear my mask?” making us think that there is a third killer, and also making us wonder that maybe Brandon James is indeed still alive, or possible he has a another child that we don’t know about, who is out to take revenge on Kieran for using him as an identity for the murders.
So that’s what we thought the last two episode would be about. Instead, they are two part special, that starts with Kieran getting murdered by someone in the Brandon James mask, again showing us there is someone still out there. However, the group leave Lakewood for this episode, and go for a break away to a place nicknamed “Murder Island”
They go so Noah and Stavo can do research for a book idea, after the success of the one they have written about the Lakewood murders. This island has a similar back story to Lakewood – in the 1930s a young girl apparently went insane and murdered her parents and the family they worked for. Noah doesn’t believe this and struggles with writers block, whilst the others try to forget about the horrific events of their recent lives, and look to the future. When more people on the island start getting murdered one by one, we thought that maybe the third killer had followed them there. Instead it turns out to be a man Emma has met on the island, who is posing as the descendant of the family that was murdered on the island in the 1930s, and he is obsessed with Emma.
So there is no mention of the third killer, but then at the end of episode, whilst Noah wraps things up on his podcast, The Morgue, he questions himself who this might be, whilst we see images on of both Emma’s mysterious father standing over Kieran’s grave, and someone checking into a motel with the name Mr James.
I thought then that the up coming third season was going to be about this, revealing once and for all who the final and third killer was. Imagine my major disappointment when I found out that the 6 part season that will air next year, is supposedly going to be about a new group of people with a new story.
Maybe the creators are leaving it open to us to create our own interpretation’s of the end of the season.
I am wondering it is implying that after Kieran put Emma through everything, her father dressed up in the Brandon James mask, murdered him, and checked into a hotel under the alias of Mr James? Or maybe there is an unknown member of the James family who wanted to take revenge on him for reasons I have already mentioned?
Whilst I enjoyed the last two part special, I think it should have ended slightly differently, with one of the following two options:
- At the end of “When A Stranger Calls” it may have been interesting if they didn’t discover Kieran straight away. Eli is murdered and the blame is put on him. We then move on to the final two part special, they go on to “Murder Island” and it is there that they discover Kieran is the real murderer, and it is all wrapped up and finalized.
- At the end of “When A Stranger Calls” Kieran is discovered as the murderer as he was, and he is killed at the beginning of “Halloween Part 1” and the third killer does follow them to “Murder Island” to finish them off, and we find out who is really behind the Brandon James mask.
I will watch the third season, but I suppose it’s not going to be necessary with it being unrelated, and I’m expecting to be very let down by it. For what it’s worth though, I loved season 1 and 2. I also loved the added feature of having all of the season 2 episodes named after horror movies!
I hope those of you that have seen it, enjoyed it as much as we did!