When You Weren’t Dancing the Macarena
In this competent little giallo from the Wes Craven factory, four sexy recent HS grads with bright futures and no problems accidentally turn July 4th into Halloween..) While driving home from a beach party, they run down a pedestrian, then hide the body in an attempt to avoid further hassles. But by the following summer, they’re all so overcome with guilt that they screw up their lives and forget to shampoo. To make matters worse, they get terrorized by a spooky killer fisherman wielding a deadly hook.
TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar proves she’s more than just cerebral, especially in her eye-popping first scene in which she’s crowned “Miss Croaker”. As the Smart One, Jamie Lee Cur- – I mean, Jennifer Love Hewitt earns her Scooby Snacks by putting the clues together while holding her own with Gellar in the cleavage department. Ryan Phillippe plays the drunken jock that gets everyone in trouble. And half-Hungarican Freddy Prinze, Jr., as the Poor Boy, quickly establishes himself as Red Herring #1 by not being able to feel the ‘corpse’s’ pulse. Bridgette Wilson (Mortal Kombat) and Johnny Galecki (Roseanne) are wasted in minor roles designed only as a feeble attempt to beef up the suspect list. Anne Heche plays a rural woman who lives in a rural house that seems stuck in the Depression and who may or may not be a lesbian.
With Scream, writer Kevin Williamson proved he can send up horror film traditions but still celebrate them by delivering the goods. Here he fumbles the ball a bit – it’s still a decent little thriller with some outstanding scenes, but he cheats on the mystery angle by bringing in new characters to fill up the plot holes. Plus, the killer is never given a very clear motivation or goal. Former make-up guy Jim Gillespie gets to put “feature director” on his resume, and manages to give the film a nice, not-too-slick look that adds to the tension.