Scream Season 1: Is it worth your time?

If you haven’t watched any of MTV’s Scream series, this is my attempt to summarize the season in a spoiler free way that can help you figure out if it’s worth your time to watch. To start with, if you weren’t already aware, this show has nothing to do with the movie series and it’s never even addressed if they’re in the same universe or if the events from the movies actually occurred. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing as this series is its own entity, but given the meta nature of the movies, you would think that it would at least be addressed in some way. If you were waiting for Scream 5, but as a 10 episode tv show instead of a movie, you’ll likely be disappointed.

One of the first big questions for this show, is how does a slasher work as a tv series? It works well at times, but there is too much filler and too many subplots are included that ultimately don’t go anywhere. You may be wondering what the body count is for the show, and surprisingly it isn’t as high as would be expected. There are more than just a couple of episodes with no kills and watching the show as it aired, the advertising gave away when an upcoming episode would have something big going on. If you binge watch the series, that won’t be a problem, but there will be a few episodes that slow things down. There are some inventive kills, but something like Hannibal goes much further with the gore despite being on a broadcast network. From a slasher perspective, it’s definitely not breaking any new ground, and the lower television budget leads to less elaborate kills than were seen in the Scream films.

Are the characters and dialogue as witty as those in the big screen iterations of the franchise? In a word, no. A big part of the draw for the original film was that it leveraged characters having seen horror movies and knowing the rules they needed to follow to survive. The references to other movies didn’t feel forced and the acting was pretty great across the board. In the tv series, there are references to other horror shows, but nothing is really done aside from making references. There are no scenes that draw inspiration from other shows while flipping the conventions on their head, it’s just referencing that something else exists. As most horror shows on television now are either zombie based (The Walking Dead) or supernatural (American Horror Story), it might have been smarter to take on the crime procedurals that crowd network television and are actually pretty violent and gory when you think about it.

It also has to be said that the show is definitely targeting the teen demographic and was cast as you would expect anything on MTV to be. There are a few scenes where it’s hard to know if a character is acting suspicious, or just if the actor is having trouble conveying what they’re supposed to. There are some acceptable performances, but the show takes for granted that you will like and care about all of the characters, it even states this very clearly in the first episode, but doesn’t actually do much to earn it. A few of the characters are also quite wealthy, as they own Porsches and live in homes with pool houses, as is often the case with television shows and modern horror movies, which just adds to the cliche of pretty people in huge houses being stalked by a killer.

Is the show any fun? There is some fun to be had watching the show, but it’s not really tense and suspenseful in the way that the movies were. There are a few characters you can somewhat root for by the end of the season, but given the fact that there were 10 episodes, I don’t think enough character development actually happened to make you really care what happened to the characters. The reveal of the killer in the films was hit or miss as the sequels had less impact than the first film, but here the reveal wasn’t shocking or anything incredibly well done. Having 10 episodes of build up didn’t result in the final episode having more impact, so on that count I would have to say that it failed to utilize the format of a television show to its advantage. The identity of the killer is also rather obvious if you were paying attention to what was happening as the series progressed.

If you were a fan of the movies, and cautiously optimistic about the show, I will have to give the caveat that it is more of a teenage melodrama with kills and slasher elements sprinkled in than a full blown slasher series aimed at horror fans. To be fair though, being released on MTV, it was never intended to satisfy horror buffs. It was intended to bring the name Scream to a new generation, and as it is an original story, it doesn’t detract from the movies at all. If you’re a hardcore horror buff and you’re looking for kills and gore, this show is not for you. If you were looking for a slasher television series to help usher in more horror on the tube, this show will not be very likely to lead to that either. If the show can build on the positive elements of the first season when it returns for season 2 (MTV has already renewed the series), it could be more worthy of investing time in. Currently the problem is that the show isn’t very smart, and it’s not actually saying anything about horror on television or popular culture in general. It’s more of a drawn out teen slasher, with the potential to become something more. Hopefully the creative team can figure things out for season 2.