When the Scream television series hit in 2015, old-school fans of the Wes Craven franchise from the '90s were disappointed that it was more of a teen drama than a self aware slasher series. With news that a rebooted third season, Scream: Resurrection, will debut after lengthy delays on VH1 this month, these same fans are eager to see if the shortcomings of the past seasons are fixed, especially since the series incorporates the return of the original Ghostface killer.
However, if you really want a series that captures the gory whodunit essence of the Wes Craven franchise, you should be watching Slasher: Solstice on Netflix.
The Slasher anthology franchise had two previous seasons, 2016's The Executioner, which focused on a serial killer in a fictional Canadian town wreaking havoc, and Guilty Party, which dealt with a group of summer camp counselors facing repercussions for attempting to cover up a murder. Basically, the franchise is built on revenge, just like original Ghostface's murders were based on revenge, which is taken to new heights via Solstice as the Druid goes after tenants in a suburban apartment complex.
Ultimately, we learn the Druid's massacring victims as part of a copycat scheme involving another Druid murder outside the same building. As the mystery deepens, Solstice continues to up what the Scream TV series did by embracing what the original Scream movies were about. The guess who factor of the Druid is cleverly done and keeps viewers in the dark until the very end. This particular reveal pays homage to Scream 2.
Apart from the cerebral nature of the series, the Druid feels like a modern Ghostface with its black gown and LED mask, which has a futuristic, Daft Punk-esque look. It's a more sci-fi-inspired look that creates a distinct and lasting impression, just like Ghostface did.
Solstice is also incredibly gory and handles its kills even better than the Scream movies did.
This series doesn't hold back, as we see teachers being gutted in classrooms, heads being chopped off and placed on cars, a victim getting drilled through her head and someone getting their face plunged into a blender. In fact, if you're squeamish, this series really isn't for you. These gut-wrenching fatalities will have you squirming, and are so over the top that they honestly belong in the Mortal Kombat franchise. These no-holds-barred sequences emphasize that, while Ghostface mixed in fun and games in his quests, the Druid is more about the business end of things.
What also helps Solstice work is that it doesn't really have any heroes. After you get the background to everyone, including the lead, Saadia (Baraka Rahmani), and learn why they're crossing paths with the Druid, you can't help but feel these folks deserve their comeuppance. The show creates a sympathetic slasher, who you do want to see brought to justice, but, again, the killer was created by the very people being murdered now.
And this is where Solstice fits in with Scream. Both feature themes of guilt, revenge and its repercussions, which every character experiences along the way. While there are brief moments with jokes, sexual tension and the usual tropes of the genre, this series succeeds in substance and style as it relies heavily on the art of murder, the heartbeat of the genre.
The feather in Solstice's cap is its inventiveness, creating new ways to kill while updating old ones. Even when it carbon copies executions we've seen already, the show still raises the bar so high that we just can't see VH1's show coming anywhere near it.