SCREAM (DEVIL’S ADVOCATES) by Steven West
Devil’s Advocates is a book series that showcases tent pole films in the horror genre. Their installment featuring Wes Craven’s 1996 film, Scream, explores the impact that this film had on reviving the genre in the mid-90’s while paying homage to its predecessors and catering to its modern audience. With each chapter citing numerous sources and the text inlaid with black and white stills from this film and others every few pages, the book serves as a scholarly reference for film buffs, students, or horror lovers in general.
The book is not an entertaining read despite its subject. It takes a very stuffy, serious stance at its topic. And like a reference book, its main points are bogged down in its extra long sentences stuffed with weighty jargon and dragged out points. And for being part of a series that highlights its films as important and well-crafted installments in the genre, it ultimately doesn’t think too highly of its subject. Some high points include pointing out the undermining flaws in the “final girl” trope, interesting comparisons to John Carpenter’s Halloween, its clever marketing platform, and its trendy tone which contributed to its success. But this book fails to credit Scream as more than just a box office hit, ignoring its smart premise, its genius incorporation of other mainstream horror films, and its strong performances. This book serves well as reference for a research paper, but a more fun, flattering, and behind-the-scenes look at Scream can be found in the special features on its Blu Ray disc.
Review by Laura Smith