Monday, April 18, 2011

Scream 4 and fond memories

This post has no spoiler.

Scream 4 arrived in theaters this weekend to end the witty horror series' decade-long hiatus. I was a big fan of the films in the late 1990s because Scream was my first horror flick, one that thrilled me from beginning to end when I watched it by my 12-year-old self in a dark room. 

Most of the original film's rich and witty references escaped my young mind, so I watched it again last week, this time with friends, to prepare for the fourth installment. The original was not scary anymore, but its humor and entertainment value retained its classic status.

I might have watched Scream back in 1997 only to prepare for the theater release of Scream 2, which was a momentous occasion for those fortunate enough to have been in middle school at the time. My classmates talked about the sequel for weeks before its release. The film was rated R, but underage middle and high school students filled the sold out theater on opening night; a handful of willing parents had done the box office deed.

You can only imagine the atmosphere in a movie theater filled with such a demographic, but I can remember it. Boys shouted over the previews. Girls screamed only to attract attention. Both sexes swooned next to crushes. Students in the front stood up to carry conversations with students sitting in the back. To a child, it was historic.

All this commotion might have continued through much of the film if the opening scene was not an exact reflection of our own pandemonium. Scream 2's first unfortunate victims, Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps, attended the sneak preview of Stab, the film-within-a-film based on the events of Scream. Their fellow audience members differed from ours only in age and appearance; many of the college-aged Stab viewers wore the killer's disguise. Of course one of them was a killer who murdered Omar in the bathroom and poor Jada in the middle of the theater. That got our attention.

Scream 2 was delightful. Many critics and fans thought it had outdone the original while staying true to the story. Scream 3, the self-proclaimed finale, came out a few years later to much less acclaim and box office success.

Scream 4's limited marketing brought back some of those memories. I decided I would watch the film on opening night to capture some of that same magic from 1997. Not knowing quite what to expect, I bought two tickets the night before in case of a sellout. I figured the opening night crowd would be folks of my own age who grew up with the trilogy, but I did not want to discount the new generation of teenagers.

My girlfriend and I arrived at the theater 40 minutes ahead of the curtain to get good seats, but we were the first to arrive. Only a couple dozen adults were seated when the lights dimmed, but that was the only disappointing part. Scream 4 was a tribute to the original while staying fresh with the times, and the ending was awesome.

A family of five or six walked in 30 minutes late and sat behind us. They began to talk like they were at a rock concert. My girlfriend gave a brief glance along with a middle-aged fellow sitting directly in front of me, but the family continued to talk. Finally, the guy in front of me stood up, turned around and delivered.

"Yo! Shut up! Really!" he shouted with outstretched arms.

"Now it's a Scream movie," I whispered to my girlfriend.

The embedded YouTube video below is the Scream 2 opening scene. It contains violence and foul language.

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