Scream title image
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111 min.
Release Date

Wes Craven’s Scream opens with a scene greater than the remainder of the film, even the remainder of the franchise. A phone rings. Drew Barrymore, playing the teen Casey, answers. Sorry, wrong number. A shot outside establishes an isolated house, with no help for miles. Home alone and roasting popcorn for movie night, Casey then receives a series of calls from a gravelly male voice. “Do you like scary movies?” he asks. She does. But when the voice becomes too creepy, even threatening, she hangs up. The calls continue, and Casey’s fear brings her to tears. Finally, she asks what the voice wants. “To see your insides,” he replies. Deathly afraid now, Casey responds to the phone’s persistent ringing with a surge of terror. She answers again, and the voice says he wants to play a game, then proceeds to quiz Casey on horror movie trivia. When she incorrectly responds to a question about Friday the 13th (1980), it leads to her boyfriend’s ghastly murder on the patio outside. Casey, too, meets her demise when a masked figure bursts into the house, chases her into the yard, and disembowels her within earshot of her parents, who have just arrived home. After several sequels, including years of repetitive plotting and increasingly elaborate backstory piled onto the Scream franchise, this bravura first scene still leaves audiences gasping for air. Along with the shower scene from Psycho (1960), it belongs on a shortlist of iconic and timeless sequences that transcend the films they inhabit.

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