One episode was provided for reviewing purposes prior to broadcast.
“You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series,” posits the new resident meta-expert of MTV’s Scream, Noah Foster (John Karna). The token nerd argues that slasher movies burn bright and die fast, bodies piling up within minutes and the big reveal happening a sleek 90 minutes later. TV is more languid, giving ample opportunity to build up characters just in time to, in the case of the opening seven minutes of this new Scream, slit their throats. “You have to care. You have to root for them. So when they are brutally murdered, it hurts.”
I’ve spent approximately 41 minutes with this gaggle of hyper-aware, alcohol-guzzling millennials, and maybe the most surprising thing about the show is that, in all the efforts I put against it and its overly cutesy advertisements, I cared, and it did hurt. It isn’t perfect, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a very far cry from the movie series – all of which I adore – but in carrying on the series’ classic knack for gut-wrenching horror and should-I-be-laughing comedy, the new show not only shockingly watchable, but addictively so.
And, as these things do, it all begins with a hot girl in a big empty house. The bitchy it-girl here is Nina Patterson (Bella Thorne, not exactly Drew Barrymore, but she serves her brief duty effectively) and her face-off with a creepy Snapchatter after her boyfriend drops her off at her secluded (of course) mansion (of course), while her parents are gone for the weekend (you get it). But what could have been crass exploitation and redundant reboots turns into something fresh. Although Scream 4 trekked into the YouTube viral video spiral a few years back (and then as well to good effect), a lot’s changed even since the bygone era of 2011, and Scream the TV series knows it.
I mentioned the Snapchat stalker earlier, and it’s a hilariously creepy mechanism for horror, the killer taking 5-second snaps of Nina’s trek through the deserted house and sending them to her moments after they occur. She walks around unconvinced of her imminent death, threatening the dark hallways with her “trained attack Pomeranian” and calming down when she comes to believe her errant boyfriend is tricking her. Once his severed head joins her in the hot tub, and Nina begins running around half wet and bikini-clad, Scream kicks its mystery into overdrive. And it’s a suitably gory one, pulling no punches in the kill department and making a nice network companion with Teen Wolf‘s return this summer.
Later, we’re eventually introduced to Nina’s coterie of friends, confidants who refer to her as a “spoiled sociopath with no impulse control,” and throw a raging lake party in her late honor. There’s Emma Duvall (Willa Fitzgerald), the protagonist and resident good-girl, daughter to town coroner Margaret Duvall (Tracy Middendorf) and dating hot jock Will Belmont (Connor Weil). There’s also goofball Jake (Tom Maden), prissy Brooke (Carlson Young), mysterious new guy Kieran (Amadeus Serafini), and loner Aubrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus), who gets outed via a viral video in the pilot’s opening scene.