Ghostface the Human Punching Bag

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Movies

A friend sent me a short video and it got me thinking. Out of all the titans of slasher films, I have always had a soft spot for Ghostface. I won’t say as much for the movies as a whole, but the character has always stood out for me. The thing most slasher films are known for is being invulnerable. Jason Voorhees Freddy Kruger and Michael Myers effectively exist as juggernauts; they stand over their victims, and no amount of blows or bullets will truly stop them. They are less actual human and more of a personification of fear. Then Wes Craven made Scream. We were given a critical change to the killer character; Ghostface; you could finally kick his/her proverbial ass. As an audience, we could watch the killer and think; yea I could win.

And that is why we have this short music video today. Scream is a fast-paced film. But the film deviates from what made slashers go stale in the previous decade. Here, our killer doesn’t stalk their victims from the shadows; they burst out of hiding to chase you, full pelt, cursing you out in a grizzled voice before a blade operatically guts you. Intensity is the modus operandi of the slasher revival. Another aspect that distinguished Craven’s horror-comedy is the fact it is a whodunnit. Unlike the norm of slashers, the identity of the killer is withheld from the audience. Ghostface isn’t one persona, but rather a multitude of characters adopts to conceal their true identity. This means the audience is always guessing who’s behind Ghostface’s mask and is, by extension, always aware that the killer is human.

No one can say Ghostface isn’t full of energy to go out and kill. However, his mastery of agility is far from ideal. This is why most of the kill scenes in the Scream series are less methodical and more controlled chaos. You have to give props to a killer who is so enthusiastic at killing that they will charge at their victim with little regard. And that is why it is so realistic. Imagine if you were to dress up in a Halloween store costume that gave you limited visibility and tried to execute your friends, you’d run into some maneuverability obstacles, no matter how menacing you made yourself sound. 

Another reason why I enjoy Ghostface so much is how Craven slips slapstick into the kill scenes. Ghostface trips stumble and fall as they lurch and careen over the obstacle courses that is a middle-class suburban home, with narrow staircases and obtrusive furniture thwarting their slickness at every turn. This person is going to kill you. If they can manage to stay on their own two feet by the time they reach their hapless victim.

The last reason why I like Ghostface is the one thing that other slashers lack. Fight back against your killer, and your blows to actually land. Most Iconic horror films have by now transformed their iconic killers into impenetrable, borderline mythological figures. Ghostface takes a fair share of damage. Groans of our killer’s pain fill the movies as victims connect hits to their attacker in the heat of battle. This is crucial that keep kills interesting; the more level we see a struggle, with hits looking like they have an impact, the more we think that escape for our character is possible. It creates a tenser watch;  and an even more devastating climax when they’re finally slain. 

Ghostface has the best of both worlds; the abnormal advantages of a slasher killer, but a grounding in human clumsiness so we’ll buy it when the face of the perpetrator is unveiled. And the video below sums up the ridiculous joy conjured up by Ghostface getting knocked around.

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