‘Scream’ 4K UHD Blu-Ray Review – Iconic Horror Film Still Thrills 25 Years Later

Three individuals appear shocked or startled in an indoor setting.

The following movie critique portion of this review was written by my colleague Cainan Myracle

Scream officially turns 25 this year. The iconic horror franchise kicked off on December 20, 1996 and earned $103 million during its initial run. Why the studio decided Christmas was a good time to release a horror movie beats me. The film opened 4th and was beat out by Beavis and Butthead Do America

The franchise would go on to spawn three sequels and an MTV television series. A fifth Scream film is set to arrive in January 2022 with the main cast returning.

The brainchild of Kevin Williamson and directed by horror master Wes Craven, Scream ushered in a new form of slasher films but with a twist. While horror legends like Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger, and Jason were still popular, Scream took the clichés from those films and made it fun, such as if you had sex then you were for sure going to die or never say “I’ll be right back!”

The opening scene really set the tone for the rest of the film. Well known actress Drew Barrymore was used heavily in the marketing but was killed off in the first 15 minutes. The rest of the cast was a group of up-and-coming actors led by Neve Campbell and Friends star Courteney Cox. You also had Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy, and David Arquette. 

And who can forget the classic voice of Ghostface himself, Roger L. Jackson. Without the voice, the movie just would not work the same. The clever phone calls really make the movie, and his voice is now up there with some of the more legendary voice actors of all time.

I think what makes Scream so great and one of the best horror films of all time is how fresh it really was. The whole movie really made you think the killer could be anyone and that no actor was safe. I remember watching the film and recalling my little brother had that exact same costume at home. The filmmakers turned some random Halloween costume into one of the most iconic costumes ever. That costume, the Michael Myers mask and Jason’s hockey mask must be the most popular. 

I also like that while the film had some gory moments, it was light and comedic at times. It played to a much different crowd than some of the more classic horror films. 

While the sequels really did not live up to the original, until Scream 4 at least, the franchise is very solid. I like all of them and I am curious to see where they take it with Scream 5. I almost fully expect some major players from the original cast to bite the bullet. But who will it be? Who will the killer be? Those questions are what make Scream so great.

Video Quality

Scream makes its long-awaited 4K UHD Blu-Ray debut with a stunning 2160p HDR10 transfer derived from a remaster of the 35mm Original Camera Negatives that allows the film to look much better than it ever has. When compared to the old Blu-Ray, this disc offers monumental improvements in all respects. That release was plagued with artificial sharpening, noise and dismal black levels, among other issues. This new 4K scan has a fine amount of natural film grain that allows this movie to shine and gives a lot of pleasing texture and detail to the transfer. For the first time on home entertainment, you can clearly see specific text and objects located in the production design. The image presents with a miraculous amount of depth that makes these locations feel more three dimensional than ever. The improvements in contrast and overall clarity are outstanding, especially when you look at the interior of the houses and the clothing of various characters. Some of the edges of the frames may be a bit blurry or squeezed to some, but this is due to the camera lens used for filming rather than an issue with the transfer. 

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The UHD disc contains very deep colors throughout even with the prevalence of more neutral colors outside of the colorful outfits from Gail. The most impressive moments of HDR implementation are in the daylight exteriors with the vivid hues of nature popping off the screen. Numerous lights and flashlights also give a nice burst of luminance that is impressive. White levels are brighter and offer a greater stability without veering into blooming. Black levels are extremely deep and allow the picture to maintain an excellent amount of depth and detail in darker environments. This especially comes in handy considering most of the terror takes place at night. Skin tones look more natural and the clarity of the transfer gives you a great amount of facial detail including perspiration and cuts. This transfer is a treat for fans of the film. You honestly could not ask for better from the folks at Paramount. For those who are curious, there is not a Blu-Ray included with this release.  

Audio Quality

The 4K UHD Blu-Ray comes with a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless audio track that offers a nearly perfect representation of the film. This is the same track from the previous Blu-Ray rather than a new Dolby Atmos presentation, but it is hard to fault the studio for not messing with what was not broken. The sound design opens up to the world in a really fulfilling way. The movie offers up plenty of chances for the track to show off with thrills and crashes really giving the speakers a workout. In these scenes, the soundstage demonstrates how open and rich it is in its nuanced execution. 

The score from Marco Beltrami is presented with an impressive amount of clarity and fidelity. Music is used effectively throughout the presentation, but it never overpowers the dialogue or other important information. The dialogue comes through clearly and never falls victim to any digital anomalies. Rear speakers get a pleasing amount of activity throughout. The low-end support is hard hitting when the moment calls for it. The film could possibly stand to have slightly more raw power at its core, but for what it needs to accomplish there are no major complaints with this track. 

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Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: Director Wes Craven and Writer Kevin Williamson provide a very informative commentary track in which they reflect back upon the production of the film, fights they had with the MPAA, the original title of the film, how Craven played around with Williamson’s writing, having actors play against type and more that is good for a listen. 
  • A Bloody Legacy – Scream 25 Years Later: A new nearly eight-minute featurette in which the stars and creative team behind the new 2022 Scream reflect on the cultural impact of the original film and deconstruct some of what made it such a special creation. 
  • Production Featurette: A six-minute vintage featurette in which the cast and creative team discuss the project in broad terms. 
  • Behind The Scenes
    • On The Set Of Scream: A nearly four-minute vintage piece which shows some behind-the-scenes footage of certain scenes being filmed. 
    • Drew Barrymore: A three-minute vintage piece which shows the iconic opening scene being filmed. 
  • Q&A With Cast and Crew: Two short videos totaling over five minutes of the team behind Scream answering questions regarding their favorite scary movie and why people are so fascinated by horror films. 


Final Thoughts

Scream is not just one of the defining horror films of the 1990s, but one of the defining films in general. The way in which it played with established tropes was masterful, and the thrills it offered up with its talented young cast remains as effective as ever. This is one of the great things about Scream; some movies lose their spark once you know all of their secrets, but this film is one that remains just as transfixing every time you watch it. The fact that you still remain on edge after 25 years is a testament to its strength. Paramount Home Entertainment has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray which sports a dramatically improved, wonderful A/V presentation and a couple of decent special features. Those who have a deep love of this film will not be disappointed with owning this film in the best quality possible. Highly Recommended 

Scream is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray and Digital. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Paramount Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.


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