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“SCREAM: THE TV SERIES: Episodes 6 – 8” (TV Review)

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In the past three weeks, SCREAM has been getting good, and I must admit, I’ve missed you. For the most part of latter episodes, this show is making me feel young again, approximately the age I was when I watched SCREAM 2. For a little while there, it felt that SCREAM: THE TV SERIES was headed to STAB: THE TV SERIES territory, but now, it feels great to be back, criticizing a television program for the MTV horror-teens.

Episode 6, “Betrayed”, will likely be the last uninteresting hour of SCREAM: THE TV SERIES, as the show has fully matured, and the creators have brought in some seriously talented genre directors for the remainder of the season. This episode mostly wraps up the lengthy whodunit conversations, and thankfully brings an end to the strange crime-caper tangent that Will and Jake have been on. It also ends with Will being attacked by Ghostface, and it’s great to see the killer finally back in action, especially when his victim is Will.

After an awesome and creepy cold opening, demonstrating Will held captive by the now menacing Ghostface, episode 7 revs up fast, hard and strange. There’s something cute about naming an episode with a crucial series of scenes set in a bowling alley “In The Trenches,” but it is easily one of the weirdest episodes of the show. Weird is still more interesting than bad, so we’re back on the up and up with SCREAM.

For some reason, after witnessing Will’s abduction, adult podcaster Piper “Sarah Koenig” Shaw decides to not call the police, and instead immediately goes to fetch witty, murder-prone teens to investigate what is an active crime scene. She even knowingly leaves Emma, a teenage girl, alone at said crime scene, a location where another teen has just been stabbed and grabbed. Smooth move, adult character; I hope your podcasting is better than your social skills. Moments later, Shaw is conveniently teleported out of the show forever by the concussion she received in the previous episode.

To be honest, why even bother having Piper Shaw on the show? Why not make it another irresponsible teen from the journalism club so at least her irrational actions make some sense? What the hell is going on here? If she’s not our lingo-savvy Gail Weathers, is she going to be Laurie Metcalf in SCREAM 2? I guess I’ll have to ask Brandon James.

The rest of the episode is spent investigating with the Scream Team: Emma, Brooke, Jake, and Noah, as they try to rescue Will and escape Ghostface. Jake is looking a lot like a killer, almost too much so, and there’s no way he could be working solo; also, he’s the least interesting choice, and no one wants to see the Jake version of 100% COTTON. Meanwhile, Jake’s dialogue is getting more bizarre and manic. This is either a great use of character development, showing a terrified character lose himself to anxiety, or a great example of terrible writing of a character no one defined or knows what to do with now that he’s not blackmailing someone. Either way, I got a few laughs out of it.

Audrey and Kieran are the only lead characters missing during these scenes, so maybe these one of these two kids who have apparently never interacted with Jake are actually in cahoots. In fact, the writer’s go out of their way to make Kieran look suspicious during this episode, and logistically speaking, his time around other characters is so limited that it wouldn’t be surprising if Kieran didn’t at least turn out to be involved somehow. After all, Emma’s side dick looks mighty guilty after the splattery way this episode ends…

In addition to that, the stabbings of a couple characters in this episode make their innocence really convincing, so bravo to them for risking their lives for the plot if so. Also can someone please call an ambulance? Christ, they’re bleeding everywhere. What is wrong with you kids?

This episode reaches Scooby Doo levels of cartoonishness, attempting to follow who isn’t on screen when scary things are happening and who is. It’s like the door gag, characters keep walking out of doors and through other doors, parading across the screen, then vanishing for a beat.  Yet, the ending of “In The Trenches” — GOD DAMN, it is the best moment of the entire series thus far. This is the scene you watch the show for. This is also the first episode in which I really felt directorial flair, and was pleased to see kick-ass female director Leigh Janiak’s name in that role, who made the phenomenal recent indie horror film HONEYMOON.

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“In The Trenches” ends with a massive head trauma that left me desperate to start watching the next episode, aptly titled “Ghosts”. After all this build up, I badly want to know at least one of the killers’ identities at the end of the season. It’s going to be so frustrating if we don’t have a name to credit all this gore to.

Now, after another major character has bit the blade, having the remaining members of the Scream Team come together emotionally over the deaths of their lost friends and crushes would make sense and feel natural. The show glosses over this bit, causing me to give it an eyeroll, but forgive it almost immediately as Emma’s story starts to unravel. After the remarkably traumatizing experience she’s had, watching the grisly death of someone she’s been close with, the horrors begin to manifest in ghostly apparitions.

These visuals make the episode exciting and elevate the show like whoa. Now SCREAM is feeling like a good horror film that knows its roots, and I can’t help but credit director Rodman Flender for this. Flender has such goofy classics as LEPRECHAUN 2 and IDLE HANDS under his belt, and I get the impression he knows exactly what to do to make a mediocre genre show into an awesome one.

“Ghosts” develops at a great pace and the reveal is wonderful and engaging. I care about Emma. I care about what’s happening to her and the things she’s learning. The illusions she’s experiencing do more to help you explore her psyche than any conversation in every prior episode has done, and they are scary and interesting. All the floundering this show has done to get here is entirely worth it, and it all makes me wonder what would have been if SCREAM 4 had been anywhere near this good.

The Brandon James story starts to have an almost NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET quality to it, especially as Emma’s mother, the real legend’s cardinal Daisy, explains the horrors of her past to her daughter, while Emma slips in-and-out of a trauma-inspired hallucinatory nightmare. Likewise, A drama club poster for Titus Andronicus, and Noah name-dropping Richard Ramirez and a reference to THE FACULTY certainly made me smile. We have graduated to yet another grade in our reference game! Now if they could only remind me who the cop from HANNIBAL is…

And, bonus time! We get to watch Brooke and her teacher fool around. This is the result of an interesting setup, which ends the episode on a curious note and really hammers in the point that Ghostface is one of our teens. Also the promo for the next episode hints that Brooke doesn’t put her clothes back on. As is the great horror film tradition: once the sexiest girl has stripped to her lingerie, she’s going to spend the rest of her screen-time undressed. You’re nailing it, SCREAM! I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING!

About the author
Kristen Adelwerth

Kristen is a grad student studying screenwriting in New York, NY. She loves horror movies about dead teens and grew up with an insatiable appetite for bloody slasher flicks. Her favorite film is THE CONDEMNED.

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