If originality was celebrated in Hollywood, there would be no need for remakes. But, alas, that is not the case. And so each year, we get some sort of sequel, prequel, triquel, or outlandish version of an existing box office favorite. Enter: MTV’s new Scream series, released this summer, which cannot truly be considered a building upon the original film (or its three follow-ups), but more so a cheapened knockoff of the slasher flick that singlehandedly made viewers laugh, cry in fear, and, of course, scream. So, last weekend, bored in a hotel room, I decided to toy with the on-demand TV and thus turned on the series. As for what happened next? Much like the poor, innocent on-screen victims, I never saw it coming.
Shamelessly and almost painfully self-aware, the series justifies its cliché tropes of horror and high school by stating the obvious outright. “You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series,” the cast’s resident horror expert and know-it-all, Noah, so aptly explains. “Slasher movies burn bright and fast. By the time the first body is found, it’s only a matter of time before the blood bath commences.” Of course, if the audience hasn’t already seen this technique played out in other works, like This Is the End and 22 Jump Street, this gets a laugh or two. For those who just roll their eyes and feel like changing the channel, it’s best to approach Scream with the same mentality that you would adopt while watching a Lifetime movie, which is appropriate, seeing as the show takes on a lot of the same topics.
The pilot (and a large part of the show’s subplot) begins with an act of cyber bullying. There’s cutting, jocks, nerds, the “hot girls” clique, a teacher-student relationship, and basketball games. Because, as (you guessed it) Noah points out, “You need to figure that it’s a horror story, that someone might die at every turn. You have to care if the smokin’ hot lit teacher seems a little too interested in his female students. You have to care if the team wins the big game. You have to care if the smart, pretty girl forgives the dumb jock.”
In addition to the audience’s familiarity with the general story, all the exhausted storylines (one, for example, details a true-crime podcast reporter and her inevitable journey to get too close to the story) and the script’s need to toy with your theory about who the killer is should lead to the story becoming trite and mundane. But with a cast that exceeds expectations and a decent amount of action, the series evolves into something more than your average binge-watch—like the first film, it may very well become a cult classic somewhere down the line. Or, at the very least, it will become a cultural marker for 2015; even if it’s one that should be approached with a certain levity and brainlessness.