31 Mar 2014


Films have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  The most commonly known (and mocked) film rules are those of the slasher film (sometime generically called horror film rules) but are they true?

Scream, a post-modern look at the genre.  The makers no the rules.  The people in the film know the rules, but does that mean it follows them or not?

"What's the point? They're all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It's insulting." ~ Sidney Prescott.

The following may include spoilers for
Scream (1996)

Rule #1 - A Warning Will Come From...
There is no warning, although the first murders is discovered immediately and the kids party against warnings of authority figures.

Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A
Sidney flashes Billy her boobs and later gets naked for sex, although it is not shown on-screen.

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

The one of the killers claimed to have killed Sidney's mother because she was a slut.  

A:  SEX -  Sidney and Billy have sex.  The getting naked and getting dressed occured on-screen (although nothing was shown) and the sex was all off-screen.  Sidney survives and, although Billy  dies he is a killer not a victim.  [0/1]
B:  NUDITY - As noted, no nudity.
C:  DRINKING - There's a party with lots of underage drinking, but most leave during the murder spree.  Randy drinks and stays at the party but survives.  Tatum goes to get her boyfriend a beer, but is never shown drinking.  [0/1]
G:  ANNOYING/SLEEZY - Gale Weathers is a stereotypically annoying reporter, rude to her cameraman, pushy, writing a book about Sidney's mother's murder.  She survives.   Principle Himbry's being comforting seems to border on the inapropriate (and the police officer notices) and his behaviour at the pair of pranks actually quite freaky.  He dies. [1/2]
H:  BYSTANDER - For what we see, Steve and Casey.  Kenny, pretty much.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

A:  DOWN TO THE BASEMENT - No basement.  Tatum goes into the garage for beer, which, like is an unpretty space used for tool and storage and utilities.  Unlike a basement which has no second exist or a small, high window, a garage has a large door.  However, the killer has control of the door and so Tatum is forced through the cat flap in the garage door (a small window) and the kill raises the door killing her, so the garage partially mimics the basement in this case.
B:  UPSTAIRS - Soon after telling the killer that scary movies are insulting because of this trope, Sidney unable to unlock the front door, and runs upstairs.  She survives.
F:  ANYWHERE ALONE - Casey was home alone.  Principal Himbry was in his office alone (despite warning the students to travel in pairs).  Tatum in the garage.  Duey and Randy were alone when stabbed.  Kenny was alone quite often, but killed with someone, Sidney was alone often.
G:  ANYWHERE REMOTE/ISOLATED - The house where the party is at appears to be semi-remote.

Rule #5 - Order of Death...
A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - Casey, the first character to appear on-screen, but her boyfriend Steve dies before she does.
B:  THE BLACK MAN DIES FIRST - The is no major minority character in the film.
D:  BIMBO - Casey is blond, attractive has a boyfriend but is willing to lie to an unknown guy on the phone to say that she doesn't.  Probably not enough to make her a bimbo.  Tatum has a boyfriend, dresses in revealing clothing, pauses movies to see Tom Cruise's penis and spent most of the party with erect nipples.
E:  NERDY/FUNNY GUY - Randy is a horror film nerd and practical joker.  He survived.  
F:  MACHO JERK - Casey's boyfriend Steve, is wearing a letterman jacket and Casey says he'll beat up the unknown caller.  Macho, but we don't have evidence for jerk.
G:  THE PROTECTOR - Deputy Duey, possibly.
J:  THE FINAL GIRL - Among others, Sidney survives.

Order of Death

0.  Mrs Prescott [B]
1.  Steve.  [Possibly F]
2.  Casey.  [Possibly D]
3.  Principal Himbry.  [?]
4.  Tatum.  [D]
5.  Kenny [?]
0.  Duey (stabbed not killed)  [E, G-ish]
0.  Randy (cut not killed, shot not killed) [E]

Sidney, Gale, Duey, Randy and many others survive.

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

A:  COMMUNICATION - When Sidney is unable to use the phone to call for help, she uses a computer.
B:  LIGHTING - The lights go out in the garage, but only after Tatum has been killed.
C:  VEHICLES - Gale has difficulty starting the van, but gets it going.  Then crashes it.  She wasn't really being chased anyway.
E:  THE AUTHORITIES - The authorities don't do much.  Duey is particularly shown to be inept.
F:  WEAPONS - Gale leaves the safety catch on, a cliche in itself.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

Sidney Prescott is the Final Girl.

A:  FINAL - Yes, with a number of people.
B:  GIRL - Yes.
C:  MASCULINE - Not really.  Dresses slightly more masculine that her Tatum.  Sidney is a boy's name sometime used as a girl's name.
D:  WELL DRAWN - The most developed character and the one most anti-horror films.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - A big deal is made in the beginning of the film of Sidney and Billy's relationship being innocent, although it escalates.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

Billy & Stuart are the killers.

A:  LOCATION - No single location.
B:  FINAL GIRL - One of the killers is dating the Final Girl and said her mother and his father had an affair.
D:  OTHER VICTIMS - The Other killer dated Casey briefly until she started going out with Steve and was dating Tatum.  Both killers went to Principal Himbry's school.  They had no connection to Kenny.
E:  FEMININITY - Masculine.  Randy jokes that Stuart couldn't kill anyone because "you have to be a man," but that's not enough.
F:  SPECIFIC LOOK - Ghostface costume.
G:  SPECIFIC WEAPON - Knife, some gun use and there was one occurrence of murder by garage door.

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

A:  ALWAYS KILL THE BAD GUY TWICE - Occurred, specifically referenced.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

This is the first film in a series of films.
A:  THEY WILL FOLLOW THE RULES MORE - Post-modern deconstruction of the genre.  The film deliberately subverts some of the rules.
B:  THEY WILL BE MORE FORMULAIC - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
C:  THERE WILL BE MORE T&A - As noted above, there was no nudity.
D:  MORE AND BIGGER DEATHS - The Ghostface duo killed 5 people during the film and one a year earlier.  The two killers were killed.


The following rules were followed:  3H, 5J, 6E, GF, 7A, 7B, 7D, 7F, 8B, 8D, 8F, 8G, 9A.
The following rules were partially followed:  3A, 4A, 4B, 4F, 4G, 5A, 5D, 5F, 5G, 5H, 6F, 7C, 7E.
The following rules did not apply:  3D, 3E, 3F, 3G, 10, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5B, 5C, 6G, 8A, 8C, 10.
The following rules were not followed:  1, 2, 3B, 3C, 5E, 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D, 8E, 9B, 9C.
~ DUG.

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