This tuesday marked the premiere of the pilot for the MTV-produced horror/mystery show “Scream”, adapted from the classic 1996 horror film, which was written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. It is neither a direct continuation of the storyline, as none of the previous films are mentioned, nor does it qualify to be a remake of any kind. Think of it more as an attempt to re-create a universe of similar tone and feel, but with a brand new set of characters inhabiting a different town. It is quite unclear whether the show in fact operates outside the realm of the movie franchise, or if it exists within the same framework, but with no direct correlation to the events in Woodsboro. The pilot never clarifies that, but I guess we’ll find out eventually down the road. For now, let’s just assume that the two universes are not interconnected.
I’m sure nobody was ever against the idea of taking the basic premise of “Scream” and reshaping it into a television format. It had to be done well of course, but I think most of us were able to see the potential of such a project. After all, there are a million ways it could go. The problem is, the series barely resembles its progenitor. Sure, the structure is the same. Dumb rich girl gets butchered, local high school community stirs up conversation, and a masked killer goes on a rampage. But that is really where the similarities end, and the stupidity commences. First of all, the cast is lifeless, and the characters they play are blank as a piece of paper. On top of that, they are all introduced so hastily that we never get the chance to feel emotionally connected to any single individual. Even the somewhat intriguing main characters end up becoming background noise, because they have to make room for all the other less interesting, subpar personalities.
It saddens me deeply to see how sloppy things have turned out here. Most of the ingredients are completely gone, and the few that were lucky enough survive the corporate hammer simply don’t taste that well anymore. The charm of it all has evaporated. The satirical angle is almost non-present, and what’s left of it is so paint-by-the-numbers, I genuinely believe the writer played cut-and-paste with Williamson’s screenplay. Everything just comes off as a cheap knock-off, from the clinical cinematography to the squeaky clean IKEA set-pieces. It tries so hard to copy the tonality of the films, but in reality it’s just a slightly darker “Blue Mountain State” sprinkled with obligatory references to social media. You see, technology is a big part of the premise here, but it’s never utilised in a clever or subversive way. It just kind of is there, and that’s it.
Superficial is a word that springs to mind, and on that front MTV does one hell of a job. Nothing is even remotely close to being real. Everyone is so neatly presented, I find it hard to imagine that anyone of these dull-written teens would ever have the capabilities to pull of a thought-through killer scheme. Just the thought of it makes me laugh, because it’s so difficult to take something so dumb and witless seriously. Take Ghostface, for an example, whose voice is no longer provided by Roger L. jackson, but some guy who sounds like he’s pranking someone at a pizza joint. I couldn’t keep myself together when I heard how bad the impression was, and I guess that is just a testament to how important the voice is in this case. What is even worse is that the new mask looks freakishly like a BDSM accessory someone picked up for 1 dollar. When you then also choose to add consistently overdramatic music to the mix, you’ve pretty much doomed your show.