One episode was provided prior to broadcast.
Slasher enthusiasts were presented with two episodic genre offerings last year, but they probably didn’t exactly get what they were looking for from either. Fox’s gaudy, exhausting Scream Queens had the glitz and glam of a Ryan Murphy production, but it boasted little of the dreadful fear needed to reign in the astronomical campiness radiated by its opening title sequence alone.
Then there was MTV’s Scream, a show adapted in spirit from the blockbuster series of films that reinvigorated slashers in the first place. Despite a nifty premiere – and some gnarly kill sequences throughout the season – it too suffered from a lack of coherent pacing and follow-through – not to mention actual horror – to truly earn the right to its brand name.
According to the always-meta Noah Foster (John Karna), “taking subconscious fears and externalizing them is what horror is all about.” So, naturally, season 2 of Scream the TV series is all about dreams – and trying to actually nail down the horror part of Scream. And it succeeds, sparingly. The show seems attuned to the strengths of season 1, and its weaknesses, but only occasionally decides to play up one while blatantly embracing another. The mystery has deepened, the body count is rising, and the characters still lack any sort of tinseltown oomph – Scream season 2 is, essentially, Scream season 1 with a new metaphor.
What that means is that the show is written for exactly one target audience (fans of Teen Wolf, and probably whatever the most recent Real World happens to be) but not for, arguably, the people it should be courting (fans of, you know, Scream). That’s a problem – that is Scream the TV series’ giant, neon-sign problem. But, if you accept the reboot/sequel culture we live in, and are 100% okay with pretending there weren’t four outstanding Scream movies (yes, all four), then you might just have a ball with Scream’s round-two of mayhem.
That dream metaphor hits its stride when final girl Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) returns to Lakewood to discover that her and her friends have been dubbed the “Lakewood Six,” a moniker earned by surviving last year’s massacres, coordinated by the vicious podcaster (has there ever been a more millennial villain?) Piper Shaw (Amelia Rose Blaire). Since there’s that nagging issue of a potential accomplice of Piper’s still out on the prowl, everyone realizes that the theater lights might not have yet gone up on last year’s horror movie. Some particularly troubling texts sent to Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) are teased ten-fold in the premiere, threatening to expose her dark secret connection to the maniac of Lakewood.
That’s the problem and strength of a televised version of Scream: the show has decided to keep its story continuous throughout the series, expanding upon characters that began weak and are becoming welcomely well-rounded. Carlson Young’s Brooke is the best example of that, relishing in the bitchy bluntness required of these hormonal, high school-set shows, with all the bite to back it up. “Boys are not iPhones,” she informs Emma, who wishes she could reset her relationship with broody Kieran. But where character development is improving (and that’s sporadically, some main cast lumps still exist), the ever-expanding mystery feels questionably short-sighted. Might Scream‘s cleverest meta move have been pulling away from its competitor’s creator and going full anthology?