As an MTV television show based on a movie series except with an original story, it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great, but it did turn out better than you’d think.
Welcome to Lakewood, a small town enduring the legacy of the Brandon James murders even after twenty years…and they’re about to start again. After the body of high school student Nina Patterson (Bella Thorne) is discovered at her home and her boyfriend Tyler O’Neil (Max Lloyd-Jones) goes missing, local students begin speculating who could have done such a thing while others contend it was well-earned. But as the body count starts to rise, Emma Duval (Willa Fitzgerald) is contacted by the killer and told she has been singled out: it would all end with her, and she’ll never see it coming.
Following the invention and re-invention of the slasher genre by late director Wes Craven, the Scream movie series epitomized the self-aware horror genre, story worlds where everyone had seen too many movies about sociopathic serial killers and sometimes became them. Almost twenty years later and on the heels of their successful “Teen Wolf” re-imagining, MTV launched “Scream” the television series, a ten-episode who-done-it/who’s-gonna-get-it show. While missteps in casting and lower production values dragged the show down along with some mid-season pacing, the slayings were aptly horrific and creative as far as made-for-televison bloodfests go, and a few cast standouts made the show worth the watch.
Bex Taylor-Klaus playing bi-curious Audrey was easily the best actor on the show, followed closely by John Karna as film geek and audience POV character Noah Foster; the pair quickly established themselves as the R2D2 and C3PO of the show, echoing audience gasps and groans with in-story banter as the series progressed. Two players that improved throughout the program were Willa Fitzgerald as high-value target Emma Duval and Carlson Young as next-in-line vapid hottie queen she-bitch Brooke Maddox. With the exception of Karna’s Noah, most of the male roles both teen and adult were underplayed or outright cringe-worthy; you half expect one of the dumb jocks to be the killer since it didn’t seem possible for anyone to act so badly on purpose and still get cast on a show like this.
So…does the story get it done? Let’s just say that while the resolution didn’t have the impactful one-two punch one would have hoped for, both the plot and the denouement end up better than three of the four seasons of “American Horror Story,” and that’s saying a lot. Kudos to integrating social media and modern mobile computing into the story, but as the final few episodes played out, tech savviness was becoming a hi-tech crutch for “we need THIS to happen.” There is also that nagging bit about whether or not the unmasked killer could have actually committed all the atrocities with little more than a Scooby-Doo explanation. For those looking for a twist, that’s here too, but it also plays into and sets up an already greenlit second season; one can’t help but wonder, however, if the impact of the end of this season might have had been bigger if showrunners hadn’t known in advance they didn’t have to give away all of their secrets. Here’s hoping they plug a few of the first season’s holes to keep the ship from sinking.