Baron's Blitz: The Scream TV series Pilot review

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Baron's Blitz: The Scream TV series Pilot review

Postby Baron von Gosu » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:02 am

In a world of The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and every other shocking symbol of idolized depravity, perhaps it’s fitting that the opening minutes of Scream The TV Series shows two girls going at it while being filmed by someone nearby. After all, what better way to get attention, as taught by Scream 4, then by having ‘fucked up shit happen to you’?

Yet we also live in the day and age of reboots, remakes, and endless sequels, which is of course why this TV show even exists. Story wise you won’t see much carry over from the movies to the show because unlike most reboots, this series seems to want to set out on its own. For me this concept is fine, but it leaves me wondering why then call it ‘Scream’ if you’re going to just create a separate entity?

Marketing, of course. Money. Name value. This is why ‘Scream’ is sharing its name with this new iteration. As someone whose taken many an opportunity to blast remakes and reboots (and still I say very deservedly so), I’m going to admit (full disclosure) that it’s going to be hard not comparing this show to the movies it was based around. Complain in the comments if you must, but the way I see is that if they want to cash in on the name value to help give this show some legs then it must also be willing to submit itself to the judgmental comparisons that go along with it. Take the bad with the good, folks. That’s just life.

Scream The TV series wastes no time getting busy. In the first eight minutes we have our main plot and first murder set. The film of two girls making out in a car then goes viral to everyone at school followed by the unlikeable film maker meeting an untimely demise. This of course shocks the community, but does little to offset the ‘typical’ TV portrayal of high school life where everyone’s boning everyone behind each other’s backs. But since this is a slasher show, they also added in deep dark secrets for good measure too.

Alright let’s cut to the chase: is this show worth watching? That’s what people want to know. Years of endless skepticism (my own included) have been predicting that this was going to be another big failed experiment. So you want to know my answer? It’s as simple as it is complicated: Yes and No.

The ‘Yes’: First remember this is a pilot episode so things may change significantly from now to episode 2 or even to the end of the season. With that said, the early stages of the show are interesting. Not from the stand point of watching two people make out, but rather the social stain that comes with your secrets being revealed on the internet. One of the horror genre’s greatest purposes from its inception was to be a sort of moral barometer pointing out the evils and dark sides of humanity. Cyber bullying and social media is given its perfect due in the early goings, depicting with fair accuracy how easily things spread on the web. As someone who works in a high school with students who’ve been horribly victimized by similar videos, I felt it struck the right note with how it impacts those involved.

Another yes is the ‘Randy’-esque character from the movies being given new life on the small screen. As a new show playing to modern times, I enjoyed how he referenced big time horror TV shows instead of the classic slasher films the original did. Again, we live in a world now with Hannibal, Harper’s Island, Bates Motel, and The Walking Dead so the pop culture references need to be displayed as such. Since this is a TV show it makes sense to be mentioned along with the rest who came before it. Scream is as much about honoring the past as it is being a satire of it. I like to see that still in play here.

Also the Randy-esque character starts to set up the rules of the show. Why are rules important to a horror film? If you’re asking this, then it’s obvious you haven’t seen the original movie series. Here’s your catch up: so they can all be broken.

The No’s: Again, this is a pilot episode, but still my God the acting at times is abysmal. I get going with younger no name actors, but seriously only a couple of them appear to be having any fun with their characters. Granted the writing doesn’t give them a whole lot to work with, but there still needs to be at least some life and energy transferred around here. People look too stiff and too clichéd to really break out from the page. Sadly this appears to be a staple of TV’s interpretation of the high school life. The soap opera vibe is too over the top. I'm hoping some of this gets resolved as the show figures out what exactly it wants to be.

Second, the first kill was a very unlikeable, unsympathetic character. As the Randy character points out, the deaths are meaningful and painful only when the audience cares about the people who are dying. It certainly lacked punch in the opening minutes to have someone die who in most viewers’ eyes had it coming. (Cue in the social justice warriors to take me to task for saying a horrible person deserved their death) If the show makers really wanted to strike a strong cord in the opening minutes then give us someone sympathetic to rally behind. Kill the bitch later when we’re already on the hook. To me this ended up being a wasted opportunity.

Third, there is a lack of creative foreplay to the kill. Foreplay for the slasher flick is defined by the character’s beginning of being stalked to the moment before they are finally dispatched. This is where the suspense is built, the ambient noise heightens the mood, and the audience starts screaming, ‘turn around, he’s behind you!’ at the screen. A Nightmare on Elmstreet is the perfect barometer to good slasher foreplay. It’s little wonder then how its creator Wes Craven managed that same magic with the Scream movies.

The TV show wastes little time on the foreplay. As also stated in the episode, slasher stories don’t make good TV shows because the medium forces the story to be dragged out. A slasher film usually starts picking up some serious speed after the first death and spends little time racing to the finish. Scream the movies were also about the foreplay before the deaths. Hence the phone call in the opening minutes where the killer is flirty before getting to the, ‘do you like scary movies’ line that is now infamous in the slasher pantheon. Here the foreplay is quick and to the point, especially with the final payoff kill that wasn’t shocking as much as it was efficient. Regardless whether the targeted character was liked or not, there should’ve been more of a chase or fight from the point the head of her boyfriend splashes into the pool next to her to when the killer finally shows up. If this show needs to drag things out, (and they admitted they do), letting the foreplay build the suspense would be a very good way to go.

Lastly, the mask is a problem. So too will be the ‘other masks’ the killer is going to use throughout the series. This again falls into the, ‘if you’re going to name it Scream then it needs to be like Scream.’ I mean really, you wouldn’t remake ‘A Nightmare on Elmstreet’ and not have Freddy Krueger as your killer. Halloween 3 tried it with a different story and characters which is why it is a mostly forgotten relic. However if instead of being a ‘Halloween’ movie it had just been named, ‘Season of the Witch’ it would have a better lasting legacy. Then again if you want the name value, you have to take its comparisons with it. I don’t make the rules, and I’m not a satirical horror monster written well enough to break them. It just is what it is.

Overall Scream the TV series has a lot of uphill battles to climb. It gets a few things right and a lot of things wrong, but for a pilot episode at the very least it can’t quite be labeled as boring. That in itself is a significant victory. I’ve seen enough to warrant watching episode 2 but I can’t say for sure whether it’s because I’m wanting to see a coming train wreck or if the show captured something that could become more than what it is. I hope in episode 2 we get a cast that is having more fun, and is more comfortable in the skin of their characters. Also I'm hoping for a little less soap opera and much more character development. Give me a reason to care about these people.

For the pilot episode: 2 stars out of 4.

"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light."
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