Scream appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the imaged has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 TVs. Given that this DVD came out during the format’s first year of existence and it lacks 16X9 enhancement, I expected the disc to look awful. It didn’t, but that doesn’t mean it lived up to modern standards.
Sharpness seemed mediocre. Close-ups displayed acceptable delineation but anything else was somewhat tentative and soft. While the image showed passable definition, it lacked bite. Shimmering was a frequent issues, and I also noticed jaggies and some edge haloes. Digital artifacts became a minor problem, and I noticed light but persistent specks.
Colors tended to appear flat. The movie stayed with a fairly natural palette but the tones failed to display vivacity and remained bland. Blacks were somewhat inky, and shadows tended to seem somewhat dense. Despite all these issues, Scream remained fairly watchable, but it wasn’t a good presentation.
I felt more pleased with the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, for which the soundfield seemed broad and engaging. The movie presented nicely delineated stereo music and also created a good sense of environment. The scenes displayed a solid feeling of environment and added a reasonable number of small touches to make them more believable.
The surrounds mainly bolstered those elements, though they came to life more eagerly during louder sequences. Various scare scenes came across as pretty bold and engaging; these used all five channels well and created a vivid and vibrant sense of atmosphere.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech always appeared natural and distinctive, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Music was warm and rich and showed good range. Both score and songs were lively and bright. Effects also sounded clean and accurate. No distortion occurred, and they presented nice dynamics. Bass response seemed tight and firm. All in all, this was a fine soundtrack that opened up the action well.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an audio commentary from director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character subjects, influences and inspirations, cast and performances, sets and locations, issues with the MPAA, camerawork and costumes, toying with horror conventions, and a few other areas.
Though it occasionally sags a little, this usually delivers an informative look at the film. Craven and Williamson cover a nice variety of subjects and do so with insight and wit. I especially like the material about ratings concerns and changes from the original script. All of this adds up to a solid commentary.
Arguably the most influential horror movies of the last 20 years, Scream still entertains almost two decades after its release. Even with all those imitators along the way, it remains fun and clever. The DVD offers solid audio and an informative commentary but suffers from problematic visuals. Though I like the movie, this DVD doesn’t present it well.