Scream returns to Netflix weekly. This alone is an annoyance. A show like Scream is perfectly binge worthy. I indulged on the first season over two very late nights and looked forward to the continued narrative of a small town, with seemingly perfect people, living the brutally violent and exploitative consequences of terrible social misgivings. In essence, the series, like the films that inspired it, makes for a perfect lesson in genre.
Why does the horror genre matter?
Perhaps the must urgent of genres (and one grounded in rich cinematic history – Dr. Calagri, Nosferfatu and really all of German Expressionism), its seems to have blurred into “pulp” rather than the critical conscience is deserves. This is what Stanley Kubrick was striving for with The Shining. To ensure that the horror cinema was truly horrific and grounded in the real of our everyday. As shared by Barry Keith Grant, in Screams on Screen: Paradigms of Horror, “Horror movies aim to rudely move us out of our complacency in the quotidian world, by way of negative emotions such as horror, fear, suspense, terror, and disgust. To do so, horror addresses fears that are both universally taboo and that also respond to historically and culturally specific anxieties.”
This is where Scream the series continues from the the under valued Scream 4, Wes Craven’s opus about the degrading sensibilities of Generation Z and social media induced celebrity. As in season one where it all begins with a recording of Audrey, a teenage lesbian bullied online and in person for her sexuality, season two begins with the continued obsession of streaming, social media and the need to be seen and heard
Historically and Culturally Specific Anxieties:
Perhaps more than anything, the Scream television series is concerned with our shared cultural need to document all aspects of our lives. The killers documentation and need to stream (as with Scream 4), like Barry Keith Grant notes, aims to “rudely move us out of our complacency.” Although the killer is directing their own narrative of death the audience as with Noah’s insensitive pod-cast about the killings of season one, does exist. This is the explosive problem of our time. We have a shared obsession with seeing and being seen. From Facebook to Instagram and You Tube reaction videos, we are documenting and sharing at an excessive rate. Its that documentation and disconnect from aspects of reality that the killer is grounded in (their reality grounded in horror is painted with blood and violence).
For an exercise in the fear and anxiety of the horror genre, watch or revisit the following.
- George A Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead
- John Carpenter’s original Halloween
- Kathryn Bigelow’s horror/western hybrid Near Dark
- Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan