Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Book Review: It All Began with a Scream by Padraic Maroney

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Interesting history of the Scream franchise
Cons: Writing could have been better
The Bottom Line:
Hist’ry of franchise
Fun behind the scenes info
Issues with writing

Uneven History of the Scream Franchise

If you’ve paid close attention to my blog, you’ll find that I have a love/hate relationship with horror movies.  I know, quite a switch from the cozy mystery novels I typically read.  The one franchise that I am obsessed with is Scream, so when I found out about Padraic Maroney’s book It All Began with a Scream, I had to read it.

This book covers the history and production of all four movies released to date in the franchise.  With new interviews and research into previously released articles, Padraic dives into what went into the creation of each movie in the franchise.  He starts with the origins behind Kevin Williamson writing the first script and covers casting, production, releases, and everything in between for all of the films.

Thanks to my obsession, I’ve got to say that most of the stories about the production of the first movie were familiar to me.  This isn’t my first time reading about it or watching documentaries on it, after all.  It also helps that the movie was filmed in the area where I grew up, and was filmed when I was home from college over the summer.  (Sadly, I didn’t see any of the filming itself.)  Even so, he managed to sneak in a few fun bits of trivia I didn’t know.

What took me by surprise was just how chaotic the third and fourth movies were.  I knew there had been some behind the scenes issues, but I hadn’t realized just how bad they were before reading this book.  Sounds like a case of rushing to make deadlines and micromanagement from the very top.  It does make me wonder what could have been for those films, which are definitely the weaker films in the franchise.

No, Padraic wasn’t able to interview everyone in the cast and crew, but he does have a wide range.  Some of the crew who worked on a majority if not all four films are included as well as cast members from each film.  That helps give us a good perspective.  Are there people I would have liked to see interviewed?  Yes.  But that’s not his fault, I’m sure, but those people’s availability.

As much as I did enjoy the book, there were issues with it.  After introducing the people he interviews, Padraic only refers to them by their last name throughout the rest of the book.  That might work for the rest of a chapter, but by the time several chapters have passed, I was struggling to remember who these people were and how they fit into the production.  A few extra reminders, at least at the start of every chapter, would have gone a long way toward helping with that.

Additionally, the writing style of the book isn’t that engaging.  It feels like a laying out of the facts, but none of the fun or passion I would expect from a self-confessed fan of the franchise.  It didn’t help that the book is made up of lots of quotes, and some of them were a little hard to follow.  It’s a fine line quoting someone correctly and editing for clarity, but I felt like more editing for clarity would have helped.

I mentioned earlier being from Sonoma County.  I actually graduated from Santa Rosa High School, where the school scenes from the first movie were almost filmed.  (If you aren’t familiar with that story, read the book.)  While there were a handful of typos throughout the book, it absolutely killed me that every time the school was mentioned by name, it was Santa Rosa high school.  I know, I know, I rarely call out typos unless it is bad, but this is my alma mater you are dissing here with the incorrect capitalization.  Okay, sorry.  I’ll let it go.  Honestly, it only really bothered me this much because of my connection to the school, and I didn’t notice many typos throughout the rest of the book.

However, I do need to take exception to something else from that part of the book.  One of the producers is interviewed about the controversy of not getting to film at the school like they’d originally been promised.  I get it, they were treated poorly by the school board.  As much as I understand why the school board ultimately reached the decision they did, they should have handled the situation much better.  However, the producer goes on to call it censorship to not allow them to use the school to make the movie.  Censorship is a term that gets thrown out way too much these days when someone doesn’t get their way.  The school board never campaigned against the movie being made or being filmed in Sonoma County.  They just denied the use of Santa Rosa High School.  There is a huge difference, and that needs to be recognized, especially since the producers found some place else that worked for their needs, albeit with added stress and pressure.

Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.  And that rant isn’t factoring into my rating of the book.

As much as I did enjoy hearing about the production of the movies in the Scream franchise, I wish the book had been better written.  That keeps me from giving It All Began with a Scream my full recommendation, but I am glad I read it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the original Scream and so I was interested in this book. I did have to roll my eyes about calling not being able to use a high school for the filming censorship. I was in high school when the movie came out and I can't even imagine the drama there would have been if my high school had been used in a horror movie. Teenagers love being dramatic.