FOX’s Scream Queens tries to evoke the 90s horror genre in a serialized tv format, but does it scare or sedate?
When I first heard about Scream Queens, I was intrigued at the premise. The promise of a fun 90s throwback romp into the world of campy horror slashers. And while Scream Queens does deliver on the outlandish gore and murder, it also delivers a never ending train of neurotic mean-girl dialogue that just wears you out.
Scream Queens is the story of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority and their newest pledges as they torture, and kill, each other during pledge week. The entire show, including the opening credits and the ever-present sound track, is straight out of a 90s camp horror. But unlike the horrible movies of the day that were funny because they were horrible, Scream Queens seems horrible because it tries to be funny.
Helmed by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, Nip/Tuck), Scream Queens take a lot of heritage from his previous AHS. Cinematography and plot structure resemble AHS but with an odd taste of retro electronica instead of tense creepiness.
The show stars AHS alum Emma Roberts as Chanel, the beyond stereotypical mean-girl that makes the worst of humanity seem like a saint. To counter her, Dean Cathy Munch (Jamie Lee Curtis) actively works to strip KKT of their charter and disband the sorority.
Also included in the cast are a collection of pledges including the obvious good girl Grace (Skyler Samuels), who is returning to KKT as the daughter of a sister who mysteriously died. Along with her is the stereotypical sassy black room mate Zayday (Keke Palmer), and a collection of other pledges we, like Channel, can’t be bothered to learn the names.
Notably Glee alum Lea Michele stars as the neck brace pledge that’s a little too eager to jump into the devils playground that is a KTT sister. Her deadpan insanity does bring some brevity to the general monotony of the dialoge.
Speaking of Glee, I think the biggest weakness of Scream Queens is Murphy’s heavy reliance on the exact same themes and motifs of his musical series. He even reuses the same characters, a standoffish monologging authority (Dean Munch), a loud mouth mean girl that you just want to punch in the face (Channel), and a random collection of misfits complete with borderline offensive stereotype caricatures of horror movie victims.
When you dive into their personalities, all the characters are complete carniatures of the worst of society elitism, but that’s also where the problem lies. The image is so over the top, that while the intention was to have no sympathy for the inevitable gruesome fate these characters may endure, they go so far as to make use not actively even care.
The best part of the series is truly the gruesome ends that these characters have awaiting for them, reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None as they get picked off one by one.
But that is where the similarities end for unlike Christie’s novel, you can’t be bothered to know who the killer is as you await the merciful (and probably confusing) end of the series and all characters within.