Scream Queens Review: “Pilot” & “Hell Week”

 

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Last night was the two-hour premiere of Ryan Murphy’s latest horror show Scream Queens. It features an all star cast including Jamie Lee Curtis who appeared in horror Classic Halloween and Emma Roberts who stars in Murphy’s other horror hit, American Horror Story. A lot happened over the two hours so I’ll try to be brief, we had some laughs, saw some murders and even had a nice twist at the end. Let’s jump into the Scream Queens! 

Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…

The episode kicks off with a wild party in 1995 where one member of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority has given birth in the upstairs bathtub. It is a bloody scene, and kind of a buzzkill for her sisters who are more concerned with the music going on downstairs (Waterfall is my jam!) then rushing her to the hospital. After they sing their hearts out to a classic 90’s ballad they come back up to the bathroom only to find the nameless sister dead.

Well, this surely won’t tie into the rest of the series as a whole. Nope!

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Billie Lourd as Chanel #3, Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin and Abigail Breslin as Chanel #5 in
SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Billie Lourd as Chanel #3, Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin and Abigail Breslin as Chanel #5 in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Flash forward to 2015, where KKT is still one of the top sororities on campus. At the head is Chanel (Emma Roberts) with her three mean girl minions accurately named Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd), and Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin) . There used to be a Chanel #4 but she contracted meningitis and died, go figure. Right out the gate Dean Munsch, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, makes her hatred for the sorority clear and announces her goal to change the social structure of KKT or have it be disbanded. To do this she manages to get the national KKT legal attorney to approve of a new rule; the elitist and snobby KKT will be required to accept anyone who wants to pledge.

This quickly drops KKT’s social standing on campus, where they use to have hundreds of girls trying to pledge there are now just the rejects. Our peppy, Nancy Drew inspired protagonist Grace Gardner (Skylar Samuels), her roommate Zayday, and roughly five other girls. Chanel quickly comes up with a plan to scare these awkward misfits out of pledging, by faking the murder of their house maid Ms. Bean. Yeah, this is going to end well.

Chanel’s plan is a “brilliant” one, where she’ll dip Ms. Bean’s face in boiling grease… except the stove won’t be on so it won’t really work… except when the time comes to prank the pledges someone mysteriously left the stove on. Ms. Bean’s face just burnt off in a gruesome display in front of the girls. Yikes. Chanel threatens to blame anyone who snitches about the death, namely Grace, and together the girls of Kappa bury their first body together. Giving them all a secret that ties them together as sisters.

Grace, our honorary good-girl, decides she’ll work with college journalist Pete to expose the truth behind Chanel. She takes him to where they hid the body and… It’s gone. No surprise there. Chanel also discovers the body is gone and assumes Ms. Bean is still alive to haunt them. Meanwhile the Kappa’s face their first casualty at the hands of a masked Devil when he mows (yes, mows) over Pledge Deaf Taylor Swift.  May she rest in peace.

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This marks the halfway point of the pilot, now the entire campus has heard of the death of a sorority girl and everyone is fearful they will be next. Security in the form of Officer Hemphill is hired to protect the girls, but under her watchful eye more die, including Chanel #2. Considering Ariana Grande was a guest star I didn’t expect her to live long, but I have to say her death was one of the funniest things about the episode. Where she texts with the Masked Devil and sends a final tweet before her death.

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The girls cover up Chanel #2’s death like they did Ms. Bean, ensuring that this will be something they will get better at over the course of the show. Throughout episode I managed to do a body count, in the pilot alone we lost 6 characters total and 1 was horribly maimed, including Nick Jones’ character Boone. There is still a large cast left, but considering the show is a Slasher Film remake, we go in it expecting everyone except the female protagonist to survive. I hope the show finds a way to surprise us with each death and keep things exciting. The fact that Scream Queens is telling the Slasher story in a television format gives me hope that they’ll bring something different to a hashed out story, especially considering the surprise reveal we got at the end of the first episode.

By the end of the episode we have two big mysterious to consider throughout the series. First is the events of the 1995 party, we weren’t given any names so the sisters from that party are clearly grown up as is the baby. No doubt the recent killings have something to do those events but how do they tie into each other and who did the baby grow up to be?

Second, who is the masked Devil? We have a few suspects but it is too early to really pin down. Journalist Pete has had a few foreshadowing shots and even Grace suspects he might be the abandoned baby or the Devil, but that would be too easy. So what role does he play in all of this? And Chanel #5 looks like she’s ready to stab one of the girls at any moment.

Overall Scream Queens reminds me a lot of the Scary Movie franchise. It’s funny and it calls characters out one their stereotypical “horror movie” actions. Like Officer Hemphill telling the girls, “You just said the killer was up there and that’s where you want to go? That’s insane!” or how every death seems to happen with comedic flare. If you’re looking for an American Horror Story Lite, this is the show for you!


Cara Averna is a movie nerd, an Otaku, and known bibliophile. She writes about Fandom studies, Anime, and Manga on her blog year around, but during fall she watches way too much horror movies and consumes everything pumpkin. Follow her on twitter.

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One thought

  1. I watched this with my roommates and needless to say, I loved it. We kept yelling at the screen, “this is trash. This is so dumb. I can’t believe that just happened,” but we also said “WHERE IS THE NEXT EPISODE?!”
    Can’t wait.

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