Analyse the opening of the horror film ‘Scream’
My assignment is an analysis of the opening 12 minutes of Scream, staring Drew Barrymore. I need to describe how the opening title comes into the film. Then I need to state what happens in the 13 minutes and describe it, then describe Drew Barrymore and how she acts.
Scream was produced in 1996-1997 and released in the U.S.A. in 1997. Scream was targeted at teenagers around the age of 15 in America, however; when being released in Britain the certificate was changed to an 18 due to the second section in the film. The first section I am writing about still holds the certificate of a 15.
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The film Scream which I have already introduced begins with a large amount of detail in just the opening title.
The first phase in the opening title is spelling the name of the film SCREAM in block capital white letters. These letters start stretched from the top and the bottom of the screen then compress into the centre of the screen. When they close down it happens fast and there is a loud bang. This is set to be like the noise of a prison door slamming shut to make the audience watching the film in a cinema feel enclosed and locked in, unable to get out, as if they are now in the film. The audience will obviously not feel this but their sub conscious makes it real without the person knowing. This puts you in the position of the victim in the film (Casey). As the letters are white this shows it is going to be a scary movie because white is the colour for fear and innocence. Again the audience won’t know this but their sub conscious will. The audience is now trapped in this phase. As the letters have moved in it moves to phase two where there starts to be the ringing of a telephone as sound effects and also a slow and normal heartbeat and screaming. This is another sign to show that the film is going to be scary. After this phase all the sound effects carry on but the letters of the title become red. This happens by the very start of the heartbeat where the red letters are beating in with the speed of the heartbeat, as this happens there is also a very loud bang and loud screaming, also a slicing of what sounds like a large kitchen knife.
The scream is for when Casey has seen the knife that the killer is holding and the slicing is for when Casey is penetrated with the knife and it is plunged into her chest. As there is the sound of a heartbeat the red letters are also beating in the title telling the audience to be scared. The beat of the heart reflects on the idea of Casey being murdered. Again they don’t know this but their self conscious does. As the red letters are beating with a sound of a heartbeat too when it first comes in, it starts to get faster and the screaming which has happened since the very start of the opening title gets a lot louder and the ringing of the phone gets louder as well. This is set to scare the audience which it most likely does; the feeling of tension is rising. When the letters disappear all the sounds go with it, and now it has obviously led into the film. The ringing of the phone continues into the film which is the only sound effect that doesn’t end as soon as the opening titles end. Now it is the film and you see Casey coming to answer the phone which has been ringing through the whole opening title.
The main character of the opening scene in SCREAM is Casey (Drew Barrymore). As it is Drew Barrymore in the film the audience would recognise her and would have sympathetic feelings for her when she is murdered. Drew Barrymore was chosen to be the first victim in the film Scream because the directors know that she will be remembered throughout the film, she was very famous at the time.
Casey who is played by Drew Barrymore is set to look like an innocent victim. She has short, bobbed blonde hair, meaning she is always neatening her hair up which she does a lot of the time when she is flirting over the phone with the killer. This is set so that the audience no what sort of character she is and how to feel for her.
Casey’s typical features make her the perfect character for being a murder victim. She has the hair that I have already mentioned, the big broad blue eyes, she is only small and slim with large breasts with the sound of a soft, flirty voice which we hear and see when she answers the phone to the killer. She is wearing a pale baggy long sleeved jumper where the cuffs hang over her hands and a pair of tight jeans, she also wears pale makeup. Her pale clothes combined with the colours of the house create a good contrast for a murder scene. These features suggest that she is a popular, perhaps a cheerleader in a high school. In Casey’s opening movements she answers the phone to the killer, telling him he must have the wrong number, then we see her walking into the kitchen to put a packet of popcorn on the stove to sit down to watch a scary movie which we find out when she speaks to the killer for the third time he rings By the looks of Casey and her house this suggests Casey is well cared for and has been kept away from danger by always being protected.
The colours that have been used to decorate the house are very pale colours. This makes it seem like there are not any young children living in the house. This suggests that Casey is an only child or she has brothers or sisters who have left home. The pale colours inside the house contrast with the colour of blood, making the house a good place for there to be a murder scene as I have already stated. The pale colours and the size of the house also suggest Casey lives a wealthy and luxurious lifestyle. It is a very large house which you can derive by the layout of the stairs and the kitchen, which are also very large. When Casey runs to lock the front door it takes her a while to get there showing that it is a large house. Another sign of Casey’s parents’ wealth is that they have a large heated swimming pool in the back garden.
In Casey’s house we see a large bookcase with lots of books and encyclopaedias in it which suggests that the occupants of the household are very well educated. The director made the decision for Casey’s house to be the place of her murder because people think that they are supposed to be safe in their own house. This increases the sense of tension the audience is feeling creating a nervous mood. It could make some of the audience be afraid to go home; Casey is not safe in her home why should they be? It gets the audience thinking about the possibilities and scared. The director has set it for the audience to no that Casey knows the layout of her own house, but for the killer to no it too. Another reason to choose her house for the murder scene is that no matter how much sound Casey made know one would hear her because her nearest neighbour is a few miles away. She is isolated.
Casey’s parents seem to be very loving parents because Casey is most likely to be an only child and her parents want her to be in their house for as long as possible. Or they have other children who have already grown up and left home. I got this impression from when Casey’s parents first walked into the house and the first name they called was Casey’s. Casey’s Mum is a loving person and loves Casey to bits because when she sees what has happened to the house and she screams Casey’s name she starts to cry.
I get the impression that Casey’s Dad is a loving parent/husband too. We see this when he walks into the house and he sees all the mess then he hears Casey whispering on the phone as she is dying, (she cant speak because the killer has stabbed her in the throat) and Casey’s Mum is in a state of collapse over it so he tells her to go to the neighbours house to keep her out of harms way. This is the ultimate pathos as it is like torture that Casey’s parents can hear her dying but can do nothing about it, the parents are helpless here. And also when Casey’s Mum sees Casey hanging from the tree he runs up to the tree to see Casey and is most probably crying because he loves her that much. This is all done so that the audience won’t suspect the parents of having anything to do with her murder; the audience will suspect anyone at this point so it is important to establish the parents had nothing to do with it.
The killer is one of the main characters in the film and we do not see him till near the end of the first scene all that we know of him is his voice. The first time we hear the killer’s voice is when he calls Casey’s house and she tells him he has the wrong number and he sounds like a normal person. She knows what he is doing (flirting) but doesn’t let onto it. Casey thinks he is just a person who wants to speak to someone because he is lonely. And tells him there are numbers for that. The killer keeps on calling Casey and eventually Casey talks to him and flirts with him on the phone. The conversation went on about ‘scary movies’, if she has a boyfriend and going on a date some time together. He then asks her for her name and she asks him why and he replies;
“Because I want to know who I’m looking at.”
This is the first rush of adrenaline that the viewer feels. Casey takes the mistake seriously and starts to panic. Casey asks him what he said and he corrected his mistake. Casey puts the phone down and it rings again instantly and the killer gets angry and nasty down the phone to her saying,
“If you hang up again ill gut you like a fish!”
Casey starts to cry and listens to him; she is now beginning to get scared.
After the killer has killed Casey’s boyfriend and threw a chair through the patio window Casey runs to the kitchen to get a knife then goes out the door outside. This is where the audience and Casey see the killer for the first time. He runs through the house looking for her when she is outside. She sees him and hides. Then Casey looks again through the window and the killer isn’t there then he pops his head up and this will definitely make the audience jump. We can not give a description of the killer as he is well disguised by a large mask over his face (a replica of the mask in the famous ‘Scream’ painting by Edvard Munch) and a black dress like piece of clothing on him. When we see the killer on the screen he never speaks in case Casey realises his voice; he is probably someone she knows as he seems to know allot about her, for example her boyfriends name. After Casey has been stabbed once she lies on the floor and he goes over her and this is when she gets to see his identity because she takes his mask off, she is shocked by what she sees because her eyes widen. Does she know who the killer is?
There are two different phones used in the scene, a cordless phone and a static phone with a wire on it. The first phone that Casey uses is the static phone; when she answers the phone for the first time. When she uses the cordless phone this shows a sign of Casey not being safe because with the static phone you stay in the same place and it is attached to something but with a cordless you are loose. The reason the director used a cordless phone was because then he could use pathos. He used pathos with the phone because it is when Casey’s parents can hear her dying but are helpless and they cannot do anything about it. The cordless phone is featured in a huge part of the scene.
These are the sounds made off screen;
– The phone ringing
– When Casey turns the gas on to cook the popcorn
– When the Popcorn is crackling when being cooked
– The doorbell which is terrifying
– The horrible noise when Steve is gutted
– When the chair smashes through the window
– When the Popcorn goes on fire
– Casey’s parents car on the gravel
– The smoke detector
– The noise when Casey is stabbed
During the first scene of Casey’s death there are hundreds of camera tricks that the director has set.
At the start where Casey answers the phone for the first time the camera focuses on the phone to start off with then she picks up the phone and it focuses on Casey. After she has put the phone down the cameras follow her into the kitchen then the phone calls again and she answers it on a cordless telephone in the kitchen and the camera is set in a position to show that Casey is enclosed and there was no way out of the kitchen. The tension builds when she is talking to the killer the camera focuses on the popcorn for a second and it’s getting louder. The camera then takes you closer and closer to her body. The camera looks out of the window into the patio and you can see a reflection of her face looking scared. The camera sets the audience into being outside to make the audience feel scared and uncomfortable. As the camera follows Casey into the kitchen it glides through a solid worktop that the camera had previously showed. The cinematographer made us think that we were outside all the time looking at her like the killer in the middle of nowhere. The camera places now are to create an emotive response.
The film achieves its purpose as it makes us want to know what is happening to Casey, and that we become involved in her attempt to save her life. It uses a typical all American girl with typical family. I explain this in ‘Parents’ and ‘Casey’ analysis’.
These are scenes in the first part of Scream that make the audience jump.
– When the killer says on the phone; “I want to know who I’m looking at”
– When Casey’s boyfriend is gutted
– When the chair is thrown through the patio window
– Where the killer pops his head to the window and the killer and
Casey see each other for the first time in the movie face-to-face
– When Casey’s Mum goes to ring the police and Casey is being stabbed
-When Casey’s Dad runs up to Casey when she is hanging in the tree dead.
The opening of Scream was very successful because it fulfilled its purpose in scaring people and making their self conscience take control. Watching the opening makes me want to see more and watch the rest to find out who Casey’s killer is and to see what sort of scares I am going to get next.