So, the ball is finally rolling. MTV unleashed the pilot episode of Scream last night and, all in all, it was far from the clunker I had anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a mind boggling production that’s going to have your head swirling with enticing dreams of Ghostface… but your sleep may see a few lovely young ladies surface on the radar.
The cast is young and attractive. Willa Fitzgerald, who portrays the series heroine Emma Duvall, isn’t just a cutie, she’s a believable survivor girl. She’s got moxy. She’s not afraid to go against the grain and she’s not too concerned what her peers think of her. In short, she’s likable… one of the few truly likable characters in the series. John Karna portrays Noah, today’s equivalent of the awesome film nerd Randy, and he too shines in the lineup. The remaining cast members feel like cannon fodder, outside of perhaps Bobby Campo, who plays the mysterious new guy Seth Branson. He could prove to be a good hero, despite the fact that he’s got that Billy Loomis look, and we’re waiting for him to show colors that don’t necessarily mirror his suave and innocent demeanor.
The story is essentially a contemporary carbon copy of the first Scream film. The pilot opens with an obvious nod to the famous Drew Barrymore scene, and the tension travels right over into high school life, just as it did in Wes Craven’s 1996 blockbuster. But there are some deviations in the formula. Emma’s mother has a long buried secret (we’ll refrain from dumping too many spoilers for those who aim to catch a re-play) that looks like it could be the driving force behind this new murder spree. Her history hasn’t been well explored just yet, but it is a compelling wrinkle in the narrative.
As for good old Ghostface and his new look, chances are most of us are on the fence. The new mask looks fairly cool, and while it is a darker accessory, it somehow lacks the menace of the original Ghostface mask. We’ll see if the man (or woman) beneath the mask can turn a fair villain into a terrifying one as the season progresses.
There’s a bit of violence to take in, and while the gore borders on impressive, this is still MTV and limitations are in place. Don’t go looking for gruesome and graphic shots, because you’re not going to find them. For network television, however, there’s some decent nastiness to consume.
It’s tough to judge the series on the inaugural episode. There are some promising things happening thus far (I really like the constant hat tips to Craven’s original) and some of the cast looks as though they’re going to handle the material quite well. The cinematography is clean and the atmosphere is appropriately bleak. There’s hope for Scream after all!
Watch the first eight minutes of episode one below!