At the beginning of “Scream 6”, the pretty girl is in an elegant bar. She talks on the cell phone and says she’s a college professor. But she is not flattered by this and soon downplays her position: she only teaches in a film course.
The assumption is that there are courses that are considered “more important” —such as mathematics, medicine, engineering— and that a course on cinema is secondary and should not be taken seriously.
Even worse: she specializes in horror movies, “slasher movies”. Asked why she was interested in such a thing, her answer mentions sociological aspects that this genre can manifest.
This situation seems to me to be markedly North American, less European, French above all. I generalize, and there are many exceptions. But US critics and intellectuals tend to filter the perception of works by social categories —the “highbrow” and the “lowbrow”.
If I am aware of these categories, if I am “highbrow”, I cannot like what is produced for “lowbrow”. If I study “slasher movies”, it must be for some lofty reason — like sociology — and not because I like those kinds of movies. In fact, this cultural sociology serves as an excuse, an alibi to assuage my guilt for liking something unworthy.
The French don’t. The most headstrong magazine about cinema, the most “highbrow”, Cahiers du Cinéma, never made that distinction, quite the contrary. They followed the career of Wes Craven with admiration. Throughout its history, it has never ceased to be a large part of this genre.
Culture has its poses. The snob values himself, putting himself in a superior position, on the platform he considers prestigious. He needs to find an inferior to debase him and he aggrandizes himself with it. Employing the expression pop culture already contains, in itself, the poison of contempt. High theories are based on an affirmation of themselves, when enunciating the opposition between erudite culture and mass culture, when they cry out against the “cultural industry”, to oppose art cinema and blockbuster.
Any historian with a bit of lucidity knows that yesterday’s tacky can be today’s chic and vice versa. That the masterpiece can turn to dust and the base work become a portent. Time is damned to anarchize values and hierarchies. We should learn to judge works by them, not by previous categories or by external signs of good taste.
If not all entertainment is art, art is always entertainment. If we don’t entertain ourselves with a work, if it doesn’t make us forget the passing of time, if it doesn’t absorb our attention, why would we turn to it?
If I don’t entertain myself with the five hours of “The Twilight of the Gods”, by Wagner, why would I stay there, watching that apocalyptic story? Certainly, many people go to the opera because they feel obligated to what is considered a superior production by the great genius and die of boredom, but endure it, without any pleasure or understanding, out of cultural snobbery. He does not have the keys, he has not become familiar with the work, he is outside of it. But this does not mean that one of the main objectives of the work is not to entertain. Culture is never boring if we really get into it.
Like a baseball game, you have to know the rules and be interested in what’s going on. I once watched a baseball game to show American friends a courtesy and sincerely tried to understand what was going on: it was the longest and most boring four hours I can remember.
Art depends on the ability to read it. Reading depends on the interest we are capable of, to capture, if the work offers, its complexities. The “highbrow”, the head, the snob will see “Scream 6” with blinkers and pass on what it can offer.
How the highbrow-headed snobs of yesteryear regarded “Psycho,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Man Who Killed the Rascal” as sleazy fun, not realizing the greatness of these films: today, they worship Hitchcock, Huston, Ford like geniuses. Which doesn’t stop them from despising Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper or Jaume Collet-Serra, who haven’t yet joined the pantheon of scholars. Or just check what happened to Italian horror cinema: despised and ignored for decades, these masterful directors are beginning to make a consensus among moviegoers who want to be intellectuals.
All this to say that “Scream 6” is beautiful, quality cinema. It is nourished by the experience of films that formed its directors, producers and screenwriters, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett (director), James Platten Vanderbilt (production and screenplay), Paul Neinstein and William Sherak (producers), Guy Busick (screenwriter) : a friendly and very inspired nerd pack. They extended the sequence to “Scream”, invented by Wes Craven with an evident sincere love for her. Tributes are frequent in “Scream 6” and are often explicit, thanks to the “metashit” scheme that has been present since the first one. It is impossible to list them, there are so many.
“Pânico” has always been the fruit of an immoderate love for cinema, a cinema lived from within, in the skin of each one, which gives the films in the series the sincerity that makes them superior. The large shrine with relics and mannequins inside an abandoned cinema is, in essence, the soul of the film.
In this last version, number six, time is incorporated: there are characters descended from murderers and the murdered and the thickness of the past is concentrated, visually and symbolically, in the materially aged mask of Ghostface.
One also senses the presence of a history of cinema: Hitchcock in the window perceived from an apartment, in the crossing over the stairs stretched between two buildings and in certain atmospheres, such as the restaurant at the beginning, the subway scene (an inverted Hitchcock : it’s not the crowd that saves the hero, quite the contrary) and Gale Weathers’ apartment. Other historical filmmakers feed into the film, from Dario Argento (with a strong presence and quoted on a character’s T-shirt) to Fellini, Bergman or Buñuel.
These filmmakers were already there, from the first “Scream”, by Craven. It is obvious that the main engine of that bunch of nerd creators is to prolong the series, not letting it die, continuing to kill, but all with great affection. They take up crucial points from “Scream” or from Craven, from “Aniversário Macabro”, in 1972, his first film: the doubt and anguish in the face of American values, particularly the disjointed, vicious and perverse family system, the anguished loneliness of ” final girl”, the primitive drive that animates that figure and that mask.
The narrative finding of “Pânico” is to make the figure and the mask the propellant of evil. The assassin is interchangeable and can always re-upgrade. Once that white feature reminiscent of Munch is found, very striking, it begins to convey violence and barbarism. Thus, the new creators of “Scream” 5 and 6 can don the costume: the public should not be afraid of the killer, but of the director, Craven once said.
That patota takes up a formula, but with a spirit that, forcibly, changes. “Pânico” (2022), also written by them, the first of their series, maintained a more timid proximity to the original. In fact, it’s as if the fifth “Scream” and “Scream 6” mirrored “Scream” and “Scream 2”, the first more tentative, the second, superb, more developed.
But, in “Scream 6”, this spirit of derivation acquired distance, originality and, so to speak, more softness: greater sacralization of cinema itself as an object of veneration, indulgent feeling for the victims and less cruelty towards them, more accentuated self-irony. The relationships between the characters are deepened, the personalities very delineated, creating greater empathy with the viewer.
There is a new technology: “Scream 6” must be seen in a 3D version, and in the chairs that shake, because it is much more fun. Which doesn’t stop the stylistic elegance either, the thought-out and intuited fluency. More accentuated than in “Scream 4”, the lusco-fusco of a “chiaroscuro” different from the crystalline luminosity of the others —Caravaggio versus David Hockney. In all this, “Panic 6” is the opposite of “Terrifier 2” (2022), by Daniele Leone, truculent, brutal, disgusting, whose qualities are of the rough punk.
“Scream 6”, now set in New York, instills fear of public space, unsettling and threatening. Optimistic, however, believing in the strength of personal affective ties. It acquired autonomy, remaining faithful.
Does not imitate. Without breaking with the original spirit, it respects the legacy by renewing itself. It satisfies fans of the series and anyone who wants to see it separately. It is part of the present and nostalgia of American cinema.
#Pânico #quality #cinema #Jorge #Coli