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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Scream: The TV Series.

Scream: The TV Series.

(Contains spoilers.)

Ugh. When this series started, I found it so frustrating, so difficult to watch, so bad, that it's actually a little difficult for me to admit that in its latter half, this show has kind of grown on me, like mildew on a very angry windowsill. It was always an interesting idea - not, as I think the writers would have us believe, a stunningly daring idea, but an interesting one, to be sure - but the series suffered the most hellacious growing pains.

A very loose adaptation of the late Wes Craven's Scream films, Scream: The TV Series is set in the town of Lakewood, a small American town that a few decades prior was ravaged by the killing spree of masked murderer Brandon James. The town is thrown into disarray again when a copycat killer wearing James' signature surgical mask appears, taking a curious interest in the daughter of the local mortician, Emma, whose family apparently has some connection to Brandon James.

The series gets off to a horrendous start, with the first five episodes being equally divided between wild-eyed rants about the horrors of technology, and even more wild-eyed rants about how clever the writing staff are, as every conversation inevitably devolves into the characters discussing slasher films, and how impossible it is for slasher films to be done as television shows, and how very clever someone would have to be to do that. 

The most obvious red herring.

The whole bizarre cocktail was delivered with some of the most wooden acting I've seen in a while, from a cast of suspiciously generic actors playing suspiciously generic stereotypes, peppered with Life is Strange esque youthspeak-as-written-by-forty-year-olds, with moderate amounts of fairly uninspiring gore. I was, in point of fact, very much prepared to absolutely pan this show as soon as possible.

In its second half, the show actually starts to improve some, though. The problems still remain: There's a moment in the finale where the killer sinisterly remarks "Hashtag: Mind blown," which could very easily be a line from the aforementioned Life is Strange, and the show continues to dip into odd preoccupations with social networking and how it's destroying society. The show continues to lob horror movie tropes at you while screaming 'LOOK HOW CLEVER WE ARE! APPRECIATE US! LOVE US!' and sobbing desperately. 

But they get scaled back a little, reduced in order to give the serial killer storyline more room to breathe, and as the pieces of that storyline start to fall into place and the large pool of characters is reduced enough to give us a core cast that we can actually care about (and who, gratifyingly, start to edge their way out of their attendant stereotypes), the show actually becomes quite fun to watch. Even, dare I say it, quite tense.

The killer, with a redesigned mask.

Which is great! Tension is what horror and slasher flicks live on, it's their lifeblood, and without it, you don't really have anything. The second half of the show cheerfully indulges itself in horror tropes and manages to make them work for it, and finally starts realising its goal of being a slasher-film-turned-television-show, rather than a collection of cardboard cutouts talking about how awesome that would be.

Some characters do better out of this than others. Emma, our main protagonist, never really managed to seize my attention much, and neither did her boyfriend, Obvious Red Herring. Geeky duo Audrey and Noah are very fun to watch, but the prize for the best character probably has to go to Brooke, the rich-girl-stereotype who proves to be one of the most caring, fierce, and erudite characters in the show (which is, in itself, a bit of a tired cliche, but it's one I enjoy watching).

The who's-the-serial-killer plotline takes center stage, and it's fun to watch the characters puzzle their way around it even as it's entirely obvious who the killer is. I realised that news blogger Piper was the killer in about the third episode, and if social media reactions are anything to go by, I came to that particular realisation pretty late. The show's attempts to mask her being the killer are clumsy, to say the least - never have I seen a more obvious red herring than Obvious Red Herring, who the show tries so hard to convince you is the killer that it becomes very clear very early that he can't be the killer.

Vaguely Sarah Michelle Gellar ish.

(Incidentally, Lakewood is bizarrely homogeneous - there's only a single non-white character in the show, and she dies quite early, which is absolutely shameful on the part of the people producing this show. You have a massive ensemble cast, guys, did it not even occur to you to have any POC amongst your core cast? Really? Really?) 

In conclusion, this is a TV series. I'm not sure what to say about it, I don't often get my early opinions so drastically changed later on in a series. If you're a fan of Scream, then check it out, but if you're not, maybe give this one a miss.

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