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Posted on September 4, 2017

The New Final Girl: More Sex, More Persecution

Guest Post

The slasher flick is absorbed in the heroine’s experience of incessant trauma. But unlike the genre’s other characters, she is the one who does not die: she is the “Final Girl.” A victim-hero, she is resourceful and intelligent and ultimately vanquishes the masked murderer.[i] A slew of recent horror films like The Final Girls (Todd Strauss-Schulson, 2015) and It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) have taken up the archetype seemingly in celebration of the female-empowering figure. After all, horror is one of the few genres that enables its female protagonists to “kick ass.”

And on the surface, It Follows, a 2014 Cannes Film favorite, seems like just another in a long line of likeminded slashers. The film centers on 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), a college student from the Detroit suburbs. After having sex with the outwardly charming Hugh (Jake Weary), Jay is drugged, bound to a wheelchair, and is told she now carries a sexually transmitted curse. An amorphous monster—it—will follow her everywhere she roams, and although no one else can see it, for Jay, it could appear like anyone. It is painstakingly slow but inescapable. Temporary respite occurs only by passing it on through sex with somebody else. In a way, the plot feels like an urban legend of sorts, and the formula obeys many of the same rules touted by Randy (Jamie Kennedy) in Scream (Wes Craven, 1996): “There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. For instance, number one: you can never have sex.”

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Posted on September 6, 2015

MTV’s Scream: Did It Work?

Elizabeth Erwin

In the premiere episode of MTV’s Scream, Noah (John Karna), the town’s resident horror film expert and serial killer junkie, lets us know right away why horror on television doesn’t work: “Slasher movies burn bright and fast. TV needs to stretch things out.” Having been green lit for a second season halfway through its first-year run, the show was certainly a success from a financial standpoint. But the question of whether it was a successful representation of horror still remains unanswered.

For ten episodes, the show incorporated many of the qualities that made the initial film such a runaway success. From unexpected reveals to bloody jump scares, the television show, on paper, possessed all of the elements to be a successful undertaking. But did the franchise’s foray into horror work? The answer is an unequivocal…sorta.

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Posted on July 1, 2015

MTV’s Scream Review: Pilot

Elizabeth Erwin

When news broke that MTV was going to try its hand at episodic horror and that they had selected the Scream franchise as its model, many were wondering how the slasher elements would transfer to the small screen. Unlike other horror genres that seem an ideal fit for serialized and anthology television, slasher films often use a very specific pacing structure that can be hard to mimic beyond 90 minutes.

As a fan of the franchise, I was dismayed to learn that part of the deal to have Scream come to the small screen was an agreement that effectively took the prospect of a Scream 5 theatrical release off the table. Was the decision a sound one? Based upon the pilot, the jury is still out. If the 1996 Scream film was a self-referential slasher dripping with a 90s sensibility, MTV’s revamped version is a generic mishmash of slasher tropes with a decidedly 2015 flair. The end result is an uneven pilot that dangles enough questions of interest to merit tuning in for episode two.

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Posted on June 30, 2015

First Impressions of MTV’s Scream: #PLLDoesitBetter


Throughout the little sneak peaks and the premier episode (airing on MTV at 10pm on 6/30/15) the audience is repeatedly instructed to care about the characters. You have to care if the teacher pays too much attention to the girls, care if the girl forgives the jock boyfriend, care if the basketball team wins, that way you care when one of them dies. Unfortunately, aside from the tutorial instructions, there is nothing goading you into actually caring about these characters. While there are noticeable parallels to the Scream movies, I see way more allegiance to the ABC Family series “Pretty Little Liars”. This does not seem shocking since MTV harnessed the creative power of Mina Lefevre (former ABC Family VP of Development and Programming). That being said, sit back and hear me out:

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Posted on May 6, 2015

The Generational Horror of Scream

Elizabeth Erwin

While the films within the franchise have been hit or miss, there is no denying that the original Scream film injected the horror genre with a much needed shot of self-awareness. From Drew Barrymore unexpectedly getting killed within the film’s opening moments to the script’s self-referential humor, Scream is the film that used the conventions of the slasher horror film against itself to create a new breed of terror.

Like most slasher films, the premise is simple. Sydney Prescott, a girl who is still reeling from her mother’s death one year prior, is being stalked by the same unknown killer who claimed the life of her mother. What follows is a fascinating blend of meta horror in which classic slasher tropes are openly mocked even as they are deployed successfully[i]
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