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Scream series premiere recap: Pilot

Meta humor, mystery, and murder abound in this meek (for now) TV remake of a classic horror film franchise.

Posted on



TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Carlson Young
Crime, Horror, Mystery

“You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series…. Slasher movies burn bright and fast. TV needs to stretch things out. By the time the first body’s found, it’s only a matter of time before the bloodbath commences.”

The Scream franchise is a TV series. Who would have thought this day would come so soon? Because much of Hollywood has run out of ideas, we now get to witness the slasher murders of Lakewood, and boy does this town love their meta fiction. The series tells us the above rule about slasher films pretty quickly into the episode to prove that what they’re doing is something different. They’re trying something that has never been done before, but probably should never be done. Remakes are difficult undertakings, sometimes more so than a sequel or trilogy. And yet here we are at Lakewood watching Bella Thorne as Nina Patterson getting murdered after being stalked online and on her phone.

Scream the TV show’s homage to Drew Barrymore’s death scene in the first film won’t be lost on anyone. Nina walks around her extremely open home with its glass windows and doors as if she’s got complete privacy. All the while her webcam is hacked, someone is messing with her lights, and she’s being stalked and taunted through texts and snapchats. The show continues its modern meta-ness by having Nina try and call the cops and having her voice command dial Pottery Barn instead. Clever guys. Damn Siri, am I right?

While Nina’s homage death was a nice idea and definitely had interesting, updated elements, the real start to the show begins with a creepy shot of a dock at night and then a video of two girl classmates—Audrey and Rachel—kissing that goes viral thanks to Nina’s meddling. It’s easy to just say that Nina’s death was directly caused by essentially outing Audrey to the whole of their high school, but that implies Audrey as the killer and I’m not too fond of that idea just yet. When the first blood has been spilled, the series immediately cuts to our new Sydney Prescott, Emma, who is attempting to get her obnoxious and clearly skeevy boyfriend Will to study. Will mentions that he didn’t come over the night before because his phone died, but later he backtracks details of that story when his friend Jake states he was with Will the night before “up to no good.” I’m not sure they’re Lakewood’s new stabbing enthusiasts, but I’m not ready to rule them out and I’m not ready for more reveals of their secret video files.

In between these moments of quick character development (that are too short to really make an impact), we get the introduction of a new addition to the story line that doesn’t come from Scream but definitely sounds Jason Voorhees-esque: Brandon James. Twenty years before Nina’s death, Brandon James was a young kid with Proteus Syndrome who killed five students and “cut a bunch of others up”—which all began when he fell in love with a girl named Daisy and was rejected. He snapped, started his murder rampage and was then shot and fell into the water where his body was never found. Obviously we know who Daisy is going to be before the show spells it out in the most obvious way possible: It’s Maggie, Emma’s mother. When Maggie receives an animal heart and a note that Emma looks just like her in high school, it’s likely MTV hopes the Brandon James theories will take over Tumblr and online forums. This is the stuff horror legends are made of and Scream clearly aims to capitalize hardcore. Maggie tells her likely soon-to-be love interest Sheriff Hudson about the heart and the note, which is sure to also send the police on tons of wild goose chases for suspects, one of them eventually being Noah thanks to his love of serial killer history.

NEXT: A classic teen horror movie trope: The drunken house party