When it comes to genre television series as of late, there are a few shows that get more love than others. And since I finally caught up with the recent season two finale of Scream: The TV Series, I thought now would be the perfect time to tip my hat to this underrated series that not only wears its horror-loving heart so very clearly on its sleeve, but also keeps the mystery-fueled spirit of Wes Craven’s films alive and kicking, all while showcasing a lot of fantastic talent behind the camera as well.
And as much as I adore those first two factors, it’s that final part—the way Scream: The TV Series has utilized some incredible directorial talent—that has made me a staunch supporter of the show, as I’d argue that Scream may the best genre series that most fans have consistently overlooked ever since it debuted last summer.
In the first season, Scream featured some really eclectic and ingenious directing choices like Tim Hunter, who helmed the second and third episodes. Hunter’s name might not immediately jump out to many, but he’s the man who helmed the fantastic drama River’s Edge, and also worked on Twin Peaks, Eerie, Indiana, Carnivale, Deadwood, Mad Men, American Horror Story, and Hannibal throughout his career. It was Hunter who helped set the stage for the murders in Lakewood, and he did a fantastic job establishing the tone of the show and giving us a better look at the characters we’d continue to follow throughout the rest of season one and into season two.
Leigh Janiak, who recently directed the excellent indie horror film Honeymoon, has been a two-time contributor to Scream, directing the “Into the Trenches” episode from season one (one my personal favorites) and the stellar “The Orphanage” episode from late in season two, which has some of the series’ best gruesome reveals. Another genre mainstay, Ti West, even dropped in during Scream’s first season to helm what became my favorite episode that year, “The Dance,” which, in retrospect, plays heavily into so much of the mystery of season two—something I didn’t even realize until I was wrapping up the second season finale of Scream. That’s some genius work on the part of West, as well as the episode’s writer, Jill Blotevogel (who also serves as an executive producer and is credited with being one of the series’ co-developers).
Director Jamie Travis, an acclaimed shorts and documentary filmmaker, has been heavily involved behind-the-scenes with Scream since the very beginning, helming both the pilot and season one finale, as well as a couple of season two’s strongest episodes: “Vacancy” (which is so messed up in the best possible way) and “Heavenly Creatures” (the first episode of Scream that actually got me to outright cry). It’s also worth mentioning that Rodman Flender—the man behind The Unborn, Leprechaun 2, and Idle Hands—directed an episode for each season on Scream (“Let the Right One In” from season two features a gnarly fate for one character in particular that I thought was particularly fun in a wicked kind of way), proving that the MTV series is all about finding interesting directors that can effectively sustain their ongoing mystery-building from start to finish.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, Scream brought in several more heavy-hitters in horror for their second season, including Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism), E. L. Katz (Cheap Thrills, The ABCs of Death 2), and both Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes, Holidays). Monster House director Gil Kenan also directed “Village of the Damned,” a strong season two episode (who doesn’t love some creepy carnival hijinks?), while the finale was helmed by none other than Scream trilogy editor Patrick Lussier, in a beautiful throwback to what he created alongside Master of Horror Wes Craven.
Maybe I’m blinded by my genuine affection for the source material, or maybe I’m just a sucker for a good murder mystery (it’s been known to happen), but I honestly adore everything about Scream: The TV Series, and I wish more folks would give it a chance. It really is a confidently told whodunit that’s been endlessly intriguing to watch unfold over the last two seasons (something that has surprised even me, as I wasn’t sure how a slasher story would translate into episodic storytelling), and it is certainly worth your time. It was recently announced that Scream will be coming back this October for a special two-part episode to ring in the Halloween season, and I for one could not be happier, as more Scream on TV is always a cause for celebration (for me, at least).
But if you count yourself among the many fans of the original Scream film franchise, and you haven’t yet checked out the television series by the same name, I would absolutely recommend it; in no way does it take anything away from those iconic films, and it manages to do some really cool things all on its own, like giving some amazingly talented directors a platform to stretch their creative muscles.