Do you like scary movies?

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Yesterday, MTV released the first 8 minutes of their TV adaptation of Scream. Those 8 minutes are an update to the famous beginning of the original, where Drew Barrymore’s Casey gets a creepy call from Ghostface that escalates from flirting about horror movies, to rage, to her murder. But how does the new version compare to the old? First, let’s take a look at them side by side.

(Unfortunately, the video we have for the original cuts the scene short.)

I think there’s a lot to like about MTV’s update. Obviously, the biggest difference is in technology: while Drew Barrymore has a landline, Bella Thorne communicates with her killer by texting on her smartphone. And the speakers in her house are activated by speaking into her phone (a clever way for MTV to incorporate their music). And that’s where the creepiest aspect of this version comes in: the videos of Nina from seconds before being texted to her.

Still, though, I think Wes Craven’s version holds up as the superior version. For one thing, because Casey is actually speaking to Ghostface on the phone, we get actual dialogue. In MTV’s version, we instead get awkward shots where we watch Nina text (and she speaks the words aloud). And the text conversation isn’t really a conversation; while Casey and Ghostface’s dialogue is engaging and builds suspense, Nina’s texts are a series of ominous non-sequiturs.

The other thing about the original version is that it’s multi-layered. There’s a meta-level, where part of the tension comes from the film’s self-awareness. (Casey’s life depends on her answering questions about horror movies correctly, and she ends up dying explicitly because she’s not genre-savvy enough.)

The dialogue has subtext (that is, characters say things with multiple or implied meanings). And the scene as a whole has a narrative arc. In other words, it’s self-contained. It embodies the movie as a whole, showing us all the elements that we can expect going forward.

To be fair, it’s hard to say how much that last part is true of the new version. But there’s no denying that it’s more open-ended than the movie.

Like I said, though, I think there’s a lot to like about MTV’s version. It’s hard to match the original, which is about as close to perfect as a sequence can be. This one is still decent. If these 8 minutes are indicative of the show as a whole, I’d say it may very well serve as an entertaining diversion.

 

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I saw 'Mars Attacks!' in theaters when I was five. I still think it's the greatest horror movie for five year olds ever made.