'MTV's SCREAM' Pilot Recap: A Slasher Movie as a TV Series?
Out of all of the major horror movie franchises, I would argue 'Scream' is the one most suited to TV. It's entire existence is built upon subverting, reaffirming, and celebrating tropes en-masse. The movies jumped ship in the form of 'Scream 2' and 'Scream 3' over a decade ago, then 'Scream 4' came along and, in my opinion, rejuvenated the franchise. Sure, it was nothing award-worthy, but it knew what the series was about, and it knew what its purpose was. It was the 'New Nightmare' of the franchise.
With MTV's 'SCREAM', the same kind of style is being replicated. The tropes are there, the set up is serviceable, the same archetypes make a return. You have the horror movie geek, the potential heroine, the jaded outcast, the bad boys (quite a few bad boys). It all feels fairly safe, yet you can tell the writers know their stuff, which says it may not stay safe for long.
As a pilot, it was by the books in terms of slasher progression. It felt like a play by play of 'Scream', but sped up and recapped. One interesting thing to note is the TV show seems to be set in a whole different universe entirely, not related to the movies. This is a bold move, but a welcome one. The nature of the storytelling in this franchise is such, that you could set it anywhere and it would most likely work. Whether it would be anything to write home about would be a different story, but it would still most likely work.
Here, we have a common group of Beverly Hills High students. Their smart phones are in tow, the social cliques are brutal, and the bullying is present. It's pretty yawn-worthy, but serviceable enough for a Pilot. The one thing I did find unique is they've either set many people up to be suspects, or they outright named them in the first episode. Honestly, there were so many suspicion shots that I feel all of them are likely red herrings. This is a good way of setting things up, but again, it's only serviceable. there's no excitement to any of it, and its all stuff we've seen before.
The one thing I can comment on liking is the social media touch they brought back from 'Scream 4'. The killer seems to be out to get people purely for 'likes', and is likely to be a jaded student themselves. Again, by the books so far, but still entertaining to sit through.
I don't think it's possible to judge its outcome as a full series just yet. The nature of slashers and murder mysteries is such that they keep you guessing. If they can drag out the tension over the course of the series and keep mixing things up, it just might work out. Again, I'd say it's far too early to tell. From what was shown here it could either be a very slow burn, or a full on dud. If full on dud:
"Those are slasher movies. You can't do a slasher movie as a TV series."