Requiem for a Scream

It was ten days into October, and I hadn’t watched a single horror movie yet, good or bad. I was starting to worry that something might be wrong with me. So, I turned on my PS5, loaded up the Tubi app, and asked it to serve me its finest campy horror film.

What I got was Requiem for a Scream. A Tubi original. I didn’t even know they did original content, TBH. Anyway, I’m five minutes into this movie -which appears to be a fairly typical slasher- and I think I’ve got the killer figured out.

After the cold open where a couple is murdered by a masked killer, we get to meet our two heroines. As the girls are driving out to the stereotypical cabin in the middle of nowhere, a good part of their dialogue is devoted to them making fun of both men and horror tropes. More importantly, however, we are told that the lead’s sister was a successful singer, is dead, and had a propensity for getting into trouble.

I would say that I learned two things from this scene. One: this movie is going to be insufferable, and B: the killer is definitely going to be the sister who faked her death.

Now, I know it’s still a bit early to be hypothesizing, but stick with me here for a moment. I have evidence to back up my claims! It’s a true-blue theory!

Alright, so first off, the sister was a successful singer. We also learned that the main character, Artemis, is a less successful singer and that their father is one of those awful, controlling, manager dads that you see in TV and movies. So, what I’m thinking is that the sister (Emily) got a little bit tired of living under her father’s thumb, and pretended to off herself so that she could get a fresh start. Makes sense? Yeah, it’s nothing revolutionary for the genre. But who expected it to be?

Now that we’ve given her a new life with which she can do whatever she chooses, I feel like we had to be given the info that Emily was a troublemaker for a reason. And the reason is that her new life was going to be devoted to trouble! Murder trouble! It makes even more sense if you consider that her dad may have been so overbearing that it caused her to really snap and lose touch with reality. With her pesky scruples out of the way, it’s time to go on a killing spree!

It’s important to pay attention to the movie’s title and description. Requiem for a Scream? A requiem is a sorrowful piece of music, typically composed as to mourn a loss. And Tubi describes this movie as follows: “A sadistic killer sets his sights on a group of friends partying in an abandoned lake house, determined to make their murders his symphony.” Making your murders a symphony, eh? This whole thing has a very musical kind of theme to it…

Lastly, the murders take place in a lake house that the father insisted only family were supposed to visit. You could reasonably say that nobody outside of the family should have known that the lake house was even there, right? I mean, sure, the killer could be the realtor who sold the family the property, but that’s a real out-of-left-field twist and wouldn’t be narratively satisfying.

So: Emily gets fed up with her dad and her career, snaps, and fakes her death. Now she can devote her life to revenge, or maybe just killing for the sport of it. She uses the family’s old lake house as the perfect secluded place to finish off her prey, and because of her background in music, is using their screams in her own original composition. Boom. Solved.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system, I suppose I should go back to actually watching the movie to see if I’m correct.

(An hour later)

Well, I was completely wrong. The sister was for-reals dead. Her ashes were in a coffee can. In fact, spreading Emily’s ashes ended up being the entire reason that Artemis and her friends even went up to the cabin in the first place. Oops!

The killer was actually just some grumpy, old hillbilly. In fact, in the scene that played immediately after I’d un-paused the movie, we see that the murderer has wrinkly man-hands and the subtitles spoiled that his name is Caleb. If only I’d watched a few seconds longer before deciding that I was smart and had guessed the movie’s big plot twist.

In reality, Requiem for a Scream does not have a plot twist. It’s all very on-rails and nothing happens without a long, detailed explanation. Also, the acting is simply atrocious… for the most part. The actor who played Caleb, Michael X. Sommers, went hard and is the only entertaining part of the entire film (well, the kills were pretty good, too). He projects a very strong Robert Englund energy, and he clearly had a ton of fun with his role. All the other actors are very clearly just here for the paycheque, sleepwalking through lines with absolutely zero chemistry between any of them.

Actually, I lied. While Requiem for a Scream is boring as heck, I did quite like the ending. It’s a bad movie and you shouldn’t watch it, so I’m going to spoil it right now! Caleb kills all of the secondary characters and ends up chasing Artemis through the woods. She trips and he pins her to the ground, ready to finish her off. Artemis notices that one of Caleb’s knives has fallen to the ground, and she grabs it in a desperate attempt to survive. However, Caleb grabs her by the wrist and points the knife back toward her. Having seen this exact scene a million times, we expect Artemis’ adrenaline to kick in and save her, but… Caleb, the strong, experienced hunter, easily overpowers the small woman and drives the knife directly into her sternum, killing her. As he gets up and walks away, the camera lingers on Artemis’ lifeless face for a good ten seconds. Fade to black.

Now, that’s not the actual end (the actual end makes no sense), but it should have been. The actual ending has Artemis magically pop out of a closet in Caleb’s RV and brains him with an axe or something. It’s stupid and destroyed any goodwill that the fake-out ending had earned. Leaving Artemis dead and closing on the hauntingly long shot of her corpse wouldn’t have made the movie any better, but I would have at least respected the choice. That “bad” ending was much more fitting, because the “good guys” were all insufferable idiots and I wanted the charismatic psycho to win. But it’s 2023, and it’s probably actually illegal now to let a man win against a woman in a film, especially in a physical confrontation. Oh well!

While I probably should have completely re-written this as just another review… I think I’m going to leave it the way it is. The fact that my theory was so far off makes it kind of stupid to commit to the permanent record, but I’m going to chalk this up as a good exercise for my brain, both in terms of critical thinking and general writing. Those are both good skills to always be practicing, after all.

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