Can “Scream” survive without original creator?

AP Photo Wes Craven passed away Sept. 30 from brain cancer at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of beloved horror movies and characters.

By Sean Ray | a&e editor

On Sept. 1, “Scream: The TV Series” aired the last episode of its first season. Two days before, Wes Craven – creator of horror classics like “The Hills Have Eyes,” “Last House on the Left,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the original “Scream” – passed away.

There is quite possibly no worse omen for “Scream: The TV Series” to have ended on. Craven was a legend to the horror industry, up there with John Carpenter and Sean Cunningham. Indeed, the series seemed to be doomed to fail from the start, airing on MTV rather than a more mature network like HBO or Showtime. This would mean less blood, less gore and less sex- three of the most common tropes of almost any kind of horror entertainment.

AP Photo Wes Craven passed away Sept. 30 from brain cancer at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of beloved horror movies and characters.
AP Photo| Wes Craven passed away Sept. 30 from brain cancer at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of beloved horror movies and characters.

So, is the series worth taking a stab at or should it have never been made in the first place?

The show’s initial plot seems standard horror fair. The town of Lakewood is a small sleepy community with a dark past. Twenty years ago, deformed teenager Brandon James got sick of all the abuse he received and went on a killing spree, culminating with Brandon being shot dead by the police after the girl he loved lured him into a trap. In present day, a new killer has arisen, wearing the mask Brandon wore to hide his deformities that looks suspiciously like the original Ghostface mask from the movies, and seeks to take revenge on the town and its inhabitants.

The series does a lot different from the original “Scream,” some of it good and some of it bad. While the new Ghostface costume and mask did not look too impressive in production stills, it looks very good in motion and is creepy in its own way.

While the killer still calls the victims before attacking them, the new Ghostface now also uses social media to humiliate them, leaking private facts of their lives out to the public. This was a surprisingly good way to use modern day social media in a horror flick and felt like how a modern reinterpretation of Ghostface would act.

However, not all changes are for the better. There is less of a genre deconstruction in the series than in the original movie. The original “Scream” was famous for having characters that knew all the tropes of horror movies and used them to their advantage, including the killer. “Scream: The TV Series” has only a single character mention horror conventions and the killer does not utilize them.

What was most surprising about “Scream: The Series” was how much the season improved as it went on. The start of the season was weak, having very unlikable characters, non-scary scenes, and only a compelling mystery story to keep it afloat. But as time went on, these problems were removed. The characters became likable, the horror scenes became more scary and gruesome while the mystery remained consistently interesting throughout.

Especial praise should be given to the fact “Scream: The TV Series” isn’t afraid to kill main characters. Too often in horror TV shows, audiences become too complacent as the main cast is hammered out, and one can be relatively sure that certain characters will survive until at least the final episode. Not “Scream: The TV Series,” which takes delight in murdering characters audiences have fallen in love with, making sure that no one feels too safe or protected from the killer’s wrath.

All in all, “Scream: The TV Series” is a show that starts with a lot of problems, yet is oddly very watchable. If one can get past the first few episodes, they will find themselves a very cool horror TV show with an interesting mystery. Whether it is worthy of the legacy of Wes Craven is up in the air currently, but if the show is able to keep improving into its second season as it did throughout the first, the world may have the first great slasher TV series on hand, handed down by one of the legends himself.