Written by: Brent R. Oliver
So of course I watched the second episode of Scream Queens that aired last night. I know I said I would never watch another one but I have my reasons. Or rather, I have my reason. And here it is: Matt Molgaard, Supreme Editor and Whip Cracker at Addicted to Horror Movies asked me to. He asked politely but the threat in his digitally emailed voice was as thinly veiled as a slutty bride’s face.
Naturally, I watched. It’s unwise to excite the ire of the Editor On High. Once he gets that ire rolling he’s pretty much Gozer the Gozerian and I’m not fucking with that.
I watched it. I suffered through. I suffered more than the fictional characters suffered, and some of those assholes actually died. And here, after careful consideration is my review: Scream Queens fucking sucks. Thank you. Goodnight.
Sigh. If only it were that easy. Scream Queens does suck, it’s true. But it doesn’t suck in a way that can be totally dismissed. Mostly dismissed, yes. I’m comfortable with everyone mostly dismissing this fly-blown turd. However, there’s a paltry hope that the show will turn out to be entertaining.
Don’t hold your breath, though. It’s going to have to get a whole lot more clever before that happens. As it is, the show does have moments of sheer, nipple-erecting awesome. Moments where you even forget to laugh because you’re marveling at the meta-fucking-hilarity that just took place.
This week’s meta-fucking-hilarity: the worthless (and mostly gay) fraternity Dickie Dollar Scholars, led by Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) stalks the streets at night to draw out the murderous devil. They patrol in white outfits reminiscent of the droogs in A Clockwork Orange but tweaked to fit the 90s fratboy. The juxtaposition is sublime. The killer wears a sin-red devil costume and the fratboys attack anything red they come across, just to be sure. A fire hydrant; a parked car. And their manly walk through suburbia, whacking anything red with baseball bats, is set to the fantastic sounds of the Backstreet Boys.
The devil shows up and he has a friend. A twin devil. One of them corners a fratboy and uses a chainsaw (which I’m always in favor of, no matter what) to lop off both his arms at the shoulder. Boom nuts. Nicely done.
It wasn’t the least bit scary, though. I’ve come to realize — through the prodding of a friend — that Scream Queens is nothing but camp. There’s no tension, no terror, and no trepidation. It’s all unrelenting campy comedy based on horror motifs we all recognize.
Will it work? That’s the question. It’s not working for me, but that might be because I expected something else: I thought it would be scary and funny. Turns out it only wants to be funny and my expectations are getting in the way. All that aside, can a show that focuses solely on the campy nature of horror survive? Can it stay fresh and provoke perennial laughter or will it wither up and die like the one trick pony it seems to be? Scream Queens is majestically, unapologetically, over the top. It puts the full-moron hammer down and goes for absolute, skid-row broke. There’s no room for any creepiness in this vehicle. It’s designed to slay with profligate humor and fuck you if you don’t like it. ß
But, seriously, do we really need something like this now? Making fun of horror’s obvious formulas and cliches is easy. It’s jerking off dicks in a barrel and I don’t think it’s
particularly relevant. Scream Queens, with its heavy emphasis on camp, is going to wear thin real quickish. So far, its only move is to jump up and down while yelling “Look how dumb this is!” We already know how dumb it is. We’re looking for innovation, not deeper retardation.
Stay tuned. There could be more.