Scream was released in 1996 as a self-aware homage to the “slasher” horror genre that ran (or slowly walked steadily) rampant in the 80’s. It broke all the horror film rules by flipping the well-known conventions on their heads and featured self-aware characters living in a world where movies such as Prom Night and Halloween existed. The success of Scream paved the way for releases such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Halloween H2O (which to my knowledge still has no water in it). Over the next 15 years it spawned three sequels, and then last summer we got a television series from MTV (Music Television). It’s a new town, new characters and a new story, but with the same self-referential awareness that captivated us in the movies. And it’s pretty damn good, too! If you’re in need of a show to quickly binge watch then open Netflix and dive into the waters of Wren Lake and the town of Lakewood.
Light SPOILERS for the first season of Scream to follow for those sensitive…
In Season 2, Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) hides some major secrets that tie the past with the present, and her friends, “The Lakewood Six” (the moniker given to the group of teen survivors of the previous summer’s killings), round out the cast in stereotypical horror movie fashion: Noah Foster (John Karna), horror film buff who runs the local podcast “The Morgue” and also the shows version of Jamie Kennedy’s Randy character from the movies; Brooke Maddox (Carlson Young), the blonde spoiled daughter of Lakewood’s mayor Quinn Maddox (Bryan Batt from Mad Men) who has his own secrets to cover up while trying to erase the town’s nickname of “Murderville”; and town heartthrobs Jake Fitzgerald (Tom Maden), the dumb jock and Kieran Wilcox (Amadeus Serafini), the mysterious but good guy with great hair. This is our requisite Scooby Gang.
Emma returns from a summer long retreat and still suffers from dreams and hallucinations from the trauma of last year. Meanwhile Audrey is dealing with how she was duped and involved unknowingly in the murders. Nobody knows, not even Noah who is focused on his podcast and the pursuit of losing his virginity. A mysterious provocateur worsens Audrey’s fears by threatening to reveal her secrets to the Lakewood Six. How do they know these details? Are they this seasons killer? Are they connected to the killer from the first season? These are the questions we hope to find out tomorrow night during the Season 2 finale.
The series as a whole has nicely developed over its two short seasons. The location of Louisiana as the backdrop for Lakewood brings a nice gothic feel and the location of Wren Lake, which is pivotal in the story, has a sense of foreboding. The town of Lakewood sometimes feels like two different places. It has a northeastern feel while the lake houses and exteriors embrace the swamp terrain. Current music is used in scenes as if creating a more often than not romantic music video (Silly MTV. You don’t do those anymore!), and the artist and name of the song pop up on screen, urging you to go purchase it on iTunes. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t listen to a couple of those songs so that was a nice touch and obviously the marketing is working. My favorite extra was that each episode in Season 2 is named after a horror movie and then loosely follows its plot points. It’s a clever idea which added some unique depth to the show and shows the love for the genre.
Directing duties are split among the episodes, but they keep a good pace and blend well with each other’s work. While the meat of the main story of the first season was revealed too early, Season 2 improves on this by withholding the identity of the killer much longer which has made it all the more exciting (we still don’t know who the killer is!). It also felt light on the body count for the first half of the season while still being entertaining with the overall mystery keeping you hooked. Not an easy feat for a slasher show. And although at times it feels safe, like something the film series would be spoofing, if you’re a horror fan then Scream and its story is definitely a guilty pleasure.
The finale is directed by Patrick Lussier, Wes Craven’s film editor, friend, and protege (director of My Bloody Valentine 3D and Drive Angry 3D). It’s a fitting tribute to the Master of Horror who tragically passed away earlier this year and probably the best director the show has had yet (others include: Ti West, Leigh Janiak, Gil Kenan, Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer, and Evan Katz). His involvement excites me even more for the final episode of the season which hopefully is not the last of the series.
Who will be revealed as the killer? My original prediction has proven incorrect (they dead!), so I’m left with a few suspects in the cast who make me uneasy… Is it Kieren’s creepy cousin, Eli, who sneaks into homes and always seems to be where the action is? Or is it the new Sheriff’s son, Gustavo, who draws morbid art of the Lakewood Six and the characters who have died? But that’s too easy, right? My guess is the school counselor, Ms. Lang, (who has been keeping recordings of the students and has a past with the Season 1 killer) is involved. And I can’t shake the feeling that Kieren, Emma’s solidarity and rock of support, is somehow connected, also. And what about Emma’s Dad (Tom Everett Scott)? Or Emma herself… ? Are her dreams and hallucinations too obvious of a misdirection as well? I think Season 2 (under new show runners) has ultimately been a better crafted story with a slower burn. I hope we see a Season 3 because I’m nervous about who the killer is and who may be killed in the season finale. They got me. Any show that invests you that much is worth more stories and worth it to check out if you haven’t.
The Season 2 finale airs tomorrow night at 10PM on MTV. Take a stab in the comments below as to who you think the killer is, and what have you liked or disliked in Season 2? Remember, if Scream has taught us anything, it’s that everyone is a suspect…