Scream: The Inside Story (2011)

Scream: The Inside StoryStarring Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, and many others

Directed by Daniel Farrands

There’s just about one week until Scream 4 hits theaters, and there’s no better time than now to take a nostalgic look back at the film that started it all. Scream: The Inside Story does just that, and considering it’s from the same crew that gave us last year’s amazing Never Sleep Again (some of them being Dread Central staffers), you can be sure these guys are tackling their subject matter with the same care and breadth that made their Freddy documentary such a delight.

This isn’t a retrospective on the franchise, and those looking for an in-depth look at Parts 2 and 3 may be a bit disappointed. Instead, the filmmakers drill down and provide a focused look back at the first film only. And there’s quite a bit of a story to tell: from writer Kevin Williamson’s struggle to get the script produced, finding the slasher flick a capable director, and the constant production challenges that plagued the entire shoot. Big-time fans of the series might not find a wealth of new information at the ready, but it’s a thorough presentation, elaborating on nearly every area imaginable.

For example, you might remember the hilarious end credit citing “And no thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board.” It’s no secret that Scream’s production was tossed from the town of Santa Rosa once the school district objected to the violent content of the script, and this documentary takes the time to delve deeper into this topic. Craven reminisces about this, but we also get to hear from some of the town’s actual officials, making this more than just a one-sided exploration of the subject matter. This documentary offers plenty of objectivity in its approach, ensuring a commendable and comprehensive experience.

Almost everyone is on hand to reminisce including Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy, Wes Craven, etc. Lillard is one of the most delightful participants, rightly criticizing some aspects of his over-the-top performance in an honest and hilarious way. The notorious Bob Weinstein also appears, candidly owning up to all his misjudgments (hating the mask, replacing Craven) and giving credit where it’s due. Craven is a delight, as usual, and it’s surprising to hear the numerous tribulations he enduring while working on the then titled Scary Movie. Everyone remembers their experiences fondly, although why wouldn’t they considering Scream made so many careers?

Unfortunately, there are some glaring omissions. Courteney Cox and Drew Barrymore are unlikely candidates for a retrospective, but Skeet Ulrich and Kevin Williamson are sorely missed throughout the proceedings. A good chunk of this hinges on their involvement, and it’s a shame we couldn’t have heard from them directly.

Scream, of course, is the defining horror film of the 1990s, and this documentary covers all the reasons why. Offering just about everything you could want to know about the classic slasher, viewers are guaranteed to learn something new (for example, I had no idea that cinematographer Mark Irwin was actually fired from the production just before filming wrapped). It’s a fast and fun tribute to a genre great, the perfect complement to the film itself. With everyone brushing up on their Scream lore in preparation for the fourth installment in the beloved franchise, get this expansive documentary on your radar. Despite the glaring omissions of some participants and the occasionally repetitious content (likely the result of this being broadcast on television – built-in commercial lead-ins being necessary for the flow), this is must-see for anyone who considers themselves a fan of Mr. Ghostface. Recommended.

3 1/2 out of 5

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Matt Serafini

Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.

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