Updated: Mar 17
This post contains spoilers
One of the many, many things I loved about growing up in our household was that come the weekend, there was some delicious food – quite often my Dad’s homemade fajitas – with Stars in Their Eyes, followed by a video (let’s marvel at that for a moment) or two, selected at our local video rental shop, Blockbuster (a moment of silence please.)
1996 was the year that the modern day slasher movie was reborn with Scream (Wes Craven), when a group of high school students were terrorized by the iconic Ghost Face, an unknown attacker clad in black, with a mask resembling Edvard Munch’s The Scream. I remember that Halloween, everyone, myself included, had the costume. Some were just plain ol’ Ghost Face; others glowed in the dark and some even had a pump in them that spread fake blood over white faces. It was a very popular movie, and even though I was certainly a bit too young to be watching it – but hey, my love of movies came from watching horror films at a young age – I thought it was amazing. I even really enjoyed the sequels, or at least two and three. I never gave four a chance.
I vaguely remembered hearing about a Scream TV show, and at the time feeling fed up that they just couldn’t leave it alone. I had never shown any particular interest in watching it.
Then about two, maybe three weeks ago we were looking for something to watch. Our regular’s have either finished altogether, or we are waiting for the next season to start and we were flicking through Netflix when suddenly, there was what appeared to be a modernized Ghost Face, and for no reason at all, I said “hey, let’s watch Scream. It’s probably rubbish but we might as well give it a go.”
Here’s what I was expecting –
In a modern day Woodsboro, a group of teens are stalked and murdered one by one, on or around the anniversary of the original murders, and in the big reveal, we find out that either the main survivor or the murderer has some connection to Sydney Prescott. There would be a goofy cop and some kind of reporter, and potentially a few guest spots from the original characters. It would get very predictable and very tiring, and unless we absolutely needed to know exactly what was going on, we probably wouldn’t make it past the first season.
Boy, was I wrong.
Instead, we found ourselves in the town of Lakewood, famous for having had a night of terror 20 years earlier when Brandon James, a teenage boy born with facial disfigurements, snapped after having enough of the way his only friend, Daisy, was treat by her boyfriend, and murdered 5 teens whilst wearing what becomes known as the “Brandon James mask”. Obsessed and possibly in love with Daisy, she arranges to meet him to try to persuade him to turn himself in, where he is then shot and presumably killed by the police. 20 Years later, and Daisy – or Maggie, as she is more commonly known – is a single parent with a teenage daughter, Emma.
Two of Emma’s friends are brutally murdered after a cyber bullying incident, and thus starts another killing spree, that reveals Maggie’s hidden past – Emma does not know about her involvement with Brandon James – but also brings together a group of teens, who will forever be connected by the gruesome events.
The show presented many familiar horror techniques and I felt an almost sense of DeJa Vu as I watched, and at the same time, this predictability was almost comforting, like meeting up with an old friend in a strange place. From the classic character tropes to us yelling at the TV screen as the characters make classic horror movie mistakes, it was really a lot of fun!
I just want to talk about the mask for a moment! The scream mask is iconic now, so when I saw the Brandon James mask, I assumed they had just modernized it but then this huge thought bubble appeared in my head! The Brandon James killing spree took place in around about 1994, and the Woodsboro murders were around about 1996 so it is possible to theorize, in the fictional world that the entire Scream franchise takes place in, that the Ghost Face mask was actually based on the Brandon James mask, and not the other way around.
Of course the film Scream was made after the TV show, but the time line would be Brandon James spree, Woodsboro murders, then the new Lakewood spree. It's an interested, slightly mind-bending thought.
There were many things about this show that have been seen before, and because of that, it was easy to love. It took us no time at all to watch both seasons, finding it hard to stop some nights! This slasher formula is not lost on any of us, and it works so well in this show, because it has it’s own story. If it had been a continuation of the original Scream movies then it would indeed be a tad repetitive, but the new, unrelated story and characters give it a refreshing look.
Now, let’s talk about the killer. At first glance, you think this person is out for revenge on the popular kids when Nina and Tyler are murdered after releasing footage of Audrey kissing girlfriend Rachel. From there, the varying murders point to different characters, but by the end of the first we season we know the following –
The murderer has something to do with Brandon James, and is out to get Daisy; The Mayor is being blackmailed for getting rid of a dead body; Jake is the blackmailer; Kieran is the new kid in school, he is charming but brooding, and strangely never seems to be around when the killer strikes; Piper, the new journalist in town and the voice Podcast Autopsy of a Crime is very friendly but considerably more caring than most journalists in her situation; we assume there are two killers, at least one of them male.
Before the big reveal in the season finale, our guesses are Piper and either Jake or Kieran. The tense last episode of the first season reveals that we were half right! Piper is Emma’s half sister, and her father was Brandon James (making her mother Maggie/Daisy) who feels hatred for Emma comes from the fact that Maggie gave her up for adoption. She was young and the baby was that of a serial killer, she didn’t feel she had much choice. Just before her death, she states that she has one last surprise for Emma, and we are left wondering who the second killer is.
The murders in the second season, whilst similar to the first season, are an attempt to make Emma and Audrey look like the guilty party, in attempt to take revenge against them for killing Piper. Jake is killed early on, so we know it’s not him. We know that it isn’t Audrey or Emma though and so again spend our time creating our own mental “murder boards” (See Noah) and wonder could it be Zoe? Could the second killer be another female? She wasn’t in the first season but when she steals an audio clip of Audrey admitting that she knew Piper, and then the clip gets sent to Emma, it does make you wonder. She is cleared though, and then sadly for Noah, his second love interest is murdered.
The main suspects for us through the 2nd season were new comer Eli (Kieran’s creepy cousin who, it turns out was in Lakewood when the previous murders were taking place) and Stavo, who has talent for drawing the both the victims and the survivors in various horrifying postilions. For the same reasons as in the first season, Kieran is also still high up on the list. By the big reveal, we had figured out it was either Eli or Kieran, and when Eli is shot and wounded by Emma, we knew it was Kieran.
Kieran trips himself up by stating that Emma will feel safe again, after the killer had told her that she would never feel safe again. It is the use of the similar phrasing that makes her realize it is him, but to be completely honest, I felt that this was a bit rushed and bit forced. In all of the trauma, would it have all clicked in together in that split second? I’m not so sure. I’ll let you know what I think should have happened later in the post.
As it turns out, the already unstable Kieran met Piper, who convinced him to join her on a killing spree in Lakewood. When Audrey and Emma killed Piper, he decided to take it further, taunting them and making them look like the guilty party. He is sentenced to 10 back to back life terms and you finally let out a sigh of relief that it might actually be over. At the end of the episode, Kieran receives a phone call from someone using the classic killers voice, asking “who told you you could wear my mask?” making us think that there is a third killer, and also making us wonder that maybe Brandon James is indeed still alive, or possible he has a another child that we don’t know about, who is out to take revenge on Kieran for using him as an identity for the murders.
So that’s what we thought the last two episode would be about. Instead, they are two part special, that starts with Kieran getting murdered by someone in the Brandon James mask, again showing us there is someone still out there. However, the group leave Lakewood for this episode, and go for a break away to a place nicknamed “Murder Island”
They go so Noah and Stavo can do research for a book idea, after the success of the one they have written about the Lakewood murders. This island has a similar back story to Lakewood – in the 1930s a young girl apparently went insane and murdered her parents and the family they worked for. Noah doesn’t believe this and struggles with writers block, whilst the others try to forget about the horrific events of their recent lives, and look to the future. When more people on the island start getting murdered one by one, we thought that maybe the third killer had followed them there. Instead it turns out to be a man Emma has met on the island, who is posing as the descendant of the family that was murdered on the island in the 1930s, and he is obsessed with Emma.
So there is no mention of the third killer, but then at the end of episode, whilst Noah wraps things up on his podcast, The Morgue, he questions himself who this might be, whilst we see images on of both Emma’s mysterious father standing over Kieran’s grave, and someone checking into a motel with the name Mr James.
I thought then that the up coming third season was going to be about this, revealing once and for all who the final and third killer was. Imagine my major disappointment when I found out that the 6 part season that will air next year, is supposedly going to be about a new group of people with a new story.
Maybe the creators are leaving it open to us to create our own interpretation’s of the end of the season.
I am wondering it is implying that after Kieran put Emma through everything, her father dressed up in the Brandon James mask, murdered him, and checked into a hotel under the alias of Mr James? Or maybe there is an unknown member of the James family who wanted to take revenge on him for reasons I have already mentioned?
Whilst I enjoyed the last two part special, I think it should have ended slightly differently, with one of the following two options:
At the end of “When A Stranger Calls” it may have been interesting if they didn’t discover Kieran straight away. Eli is murdered and the blame is put on him. We then move on to the final two part special, they go on to “Murder Island” and it is there that they discover Kieran is the real murderer, and it is all wrapped up and finalized.
At the end of “When A Stranger Calls” Kieran is discovered as the murderer as he was, and he is killed at the beginning of “Halloween Part 1” and the third killer does follow them to “Murder Island” to finish them off, and we find out who is really behind the Brandon James mask.
I will watch the third season, but I suppose it’s not going to be necessary with it being unrelated, and I’m expecting to be very let down by it. For what it’s worth though, I loved season 1 and 2. I also loved the added feature of having all of the season 2 episodes named after horror movies!
I hope those of you that have seen it, enjoyed it as much as we did!