I scream, you scream, we all ‘Scream’ for the bad ass women of Wes Craven’s game changing horror franchise.
Happy Women in Horror Month everyone! February is the time to get annoyed with the snow and yell at it for not melting ALREADY, time for Valentine’s Day cards and candies, time to watch My Bloody Valentine and then watch the remake and side eye it the whole time. BUT most importantly it’s time to donate blood and celebrate the best part about horror…and I’m not talking about that pooping scene in Dreamcatcher. I’m talking about the power house ladies that dominate our screens. The final girls!
And this isn’t going to be a long-winded essay on the importance of final girls or the sexualizing or what have you. There’s enough of that for you to read, and I’m not scholarly enough to pull that off. I’m just here to celebrate my favorite franchise and its awesome portrayal of women…SCREAM!
Ghostface: Do you like scary movies?
Sidney: What’s the point? They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.
Sidney Prescott is of course the hero of all four Scream movies, one of my favorite horror franchises.
Scream first landed onto our screens in 1996, written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. It turned the horror genre on its’ head and taught us all to not take it so seriously. It spawned three sequels (and constant rumors of a fourth in the works).
And it also gave us Sidney – an absolute power house of a character. Sidney is a high school student in the first film whose mother is the victim of a horrific crime in their town of Woodsboro. As murders start happening over town, all done by the mysterious Ghostface killer, Sidney realizes she may be in for the fight of her life and as the killer gets closer, so does Sidney’s past. The next three movies bring back Ghostface, each time a different person or team under the mask, and each time Sidney prevails, getting smarter by each film while learning about her past and her own self.
Sidney starts off the film strong. She’s dealt with the murder of her mother a year before all while continuing to go to school, keeping her friends and being with her boyfriend. She knows what she wants, she knows what’s best for her, and she’s not going to let anyone, even her skeevy boyfriend, change her mind. She carries scars, and she carries them well.
As the sequels go on, Sidney only gets stronger, smarter and more confident. She doesn’t fall for the same mistakes twice and she is never afraid to take matters into her own hands. And in fact, by SCREAM 3, Sidney is using her own terrifying experience to help others like her. She works as a crisis counselor for abused women that she runs out of her home. Her home, by the way, which is completely safe and locked down. Sidney knows how to survive.
Sidney: God why don’t you stop your whining and get on with it. I’ve heard all this shit before.
Sidney: Do you know why you kill people Roman? Do you?
Roman: I don’t want to hear it.
Sidney: Because you choose to. There is no one else to blame.
Roman: Damnit fucking damnit!
Sidney: Why don’t you take some fucking responsibility?
Scream as a whole takes its female characters very seriously, and even the ones that are seen as “pretty targets” are so much more than that!
Gale Weathers is a bad ass, cutthroat bitch who will do anything to further her career and will knock you out with the blink of an eye. Her emotions and her strength feel authentic and when her and Sidney keep coming head to head, it’s great to watch play out. Sidney and Gale’s feud isn’t petty, it isn’t “girls hating girls”, it’s a deep hurt that the two over the four movies, eventually work through. Gale will also never let herself be a victim and over the four movies she evolves in such wonderful ways in both her career, her love life and her emotional state. She takes her strength from her vulnerability and her humanity and I think that’s pretty great. Of course, Gale is also an older woman in the movies compared to the “high school” cast, but is given just as much screen time and plays a very important role in all the movies.
Gale: Hey, you’d better check your conscience at the door sweetie. I’m not here to be loved.
The victims of SCREAM movies are smart. You’ll find it pretty rare where you’re rolling your eyes at one of them thinking, “I would never do that.” The reason most of these victims die is simply because they’re overpowered physically after putting up a fight. Take Casey Becker for example, our first kill of the whole franchise. She’s a smart horror movie fan who puts up one hell of a fight before being overpowered and treated to the most horrific death of the whole series. I remember watching Casey swinging from the tree with her intestines spilling out when I was like 12 years old and thinking this was the scariest thing I’d EVER seen. (Oh, sweet innocent 12 year old me…).
Tatum, Sidney’s best friend, can be seen as the stereotypical ditsy, bubbly, sexually active character. But in Scream, she’s still much smarter than your average stereotypical horror movie bimbo. She easily holds her own against the other characters, and she snaps smartly a few times against the dominant males. She’s a peer alongside Sidney and not just a throwaway character. Her death was of course ridiculous, but she still fought for her life before eventually succumbing to the…err…garage door, I guess. Not sure how to explain that murder.
Women aren’t the only victims in Scream and, in fact, are sometimes the killers. In Scream 2, Mrs. Loomis is the one that seeks revenge and kills everyone. And in Scream 4 of course, Jill is perhaps the most ruthless of all the SCREAM killers. She’s not only a young teenager, she’s also obsessed with the Prescott legacy. She wants to prove to the world that she’s the best killer Woodsboro has ever seen. Her kills are bloody and violent, and she kills everyone she comes in contact with, including attempting murder on herself to cover it all up.
Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don’t fuck with the original!
Throughout four amazing SCREAM movies, Craven and his team have been able to keep the women strong, keep them smart, and give them equal opportunity to be killers, be victims, and be final girls. None of them can be underestimated. And that is why I love this franchise so DAMN MUCH.
Now go out there, donate blood, be kind to others, and celebrate all those great women in horror whether they be actors, screenwriters, blog writers, special effects artists or victim #8. And most of all…stay spooky!