Film Research: Scream 1996


  Genre: Horror/Thriller

The opening of Scream shows a conventional young, pretty blonde female who is home alone. This is one of the most common motifs in a horror film and we all know where the characters story/plot is going… DEATH. So she does die, almost immediately after the film started and this sets the scene for the rest of the film.

The main character is the archetype of an all american daddies girl, dark brunette hair, minimal make up and the typical flared jean and sweater style. If you watch a lot of horrors this character tends to be quite popular, she  normally defeats the bad person and escapes with her life, making this a common motif in horror, however this particular character is not ‘popular’ in school, which is not common. A victim in horror films based around high school’s tend to have the stereotypical popular clique as targets. The main character is introduced to the viewer along with her father and boyfriend, the director makes the point to over exaggerate the fact her father  is going to be out of town this weekend which gives viewers an immediate cause for concern as we now know she will be home, most likely alone while there is a killer on the loose.

In horror films where the characters are mainly teenagers we tend to see a few motifs including a deserted house (used for parties) or a high school/college. These two motifs are used within this film right at the start so we are able to categorize our characters as not fully matured, teenagers who have little or no sense of danger- another common occurrence/motif in horror films.

‘I’m at your front door’- Potential victim then heads to the front door before being killed

 This particular line by a character is popular in horror films, the directors play on this as it makes us viewers scared because we know whats going to happen, we have an emotional and logical experience with these types of situations.
 As the film progresses we have more information about the character such as, her mother was killed exactly one year prior to the killing events that surround her and her school friends, coincidence or premeditated? The main character in a film often has a link to the killer/s, another motif in films!

As the film continues we see our main character attacked by the killer and manage to escape with her life. She then suspects those closest to her with the director emphasizing her boyfriend’s arrival almost immediately after every attack. Police presence is obvious within the film and you get a false sense of security when they can not protect the characters which happens more than often in most horror films (motif). The fact the main character needs constant supervision by police adds to the characters story by showing she is very vulnerable, which makes the viewers panic when she heads to a party in a deserted farm house, asking to be killed? yes! another motif common in horrors, main characters find themselves alone, vulnerable with no where to run making them perfect for killers in movies!

Make Up, Styling and Hair-

Main Character Sydney- Brunette, plain face with minimal mascara, flared jeans and sweaters.Characters/Victims- Mainly BLONDE females, full face of make up, dark red lips, mini skirts and crop tops. The stylists and directors sexualise the killers actual victims. Very common visual motif in horror films.

Image Of Rose McGowan. Scream, film. 1996. Posted March 2010. Available:

Music within the film and horror’s in general are obvious and a great example of a motif in film. There is always, without doubt that one song/sound that plays immediately before something bad it going to happen, this sets our pulses racing. We don’t know what is about to happen or who is about to do something and the fear of the unknown is something that horrors always give us.

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