SCREAM QUEENS 2
(Mondays @ 10 on VH1)
This installment of the series features the same premise as the first: a group of twenty something beauties are brought to a tricked out fun house for a once in a lifetime opportunity, a role in the movie Saw 3-D. But the second time around features a new host, Jaime King along with acting coach, John Homa and director, Tim Sullivan. The three mentor the actresses as well as act as judges.
The contestants are thrust right into the action with an opening challenge that requires them to perform a scene reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street (one of my favorite horror flicks). The winner of the challenge receives a guaranteed callback (immunity). Gabby, a 24-year old from New Mexico, gets the win and the title of frontrunner. This distinction doesn't go unnoticed and a couple of the girls snicker that the judges didn't really like her performance as much as they liked her 'essence'. Me-ow!
The next day, the participants meet with John Homa for an acting class, the highlight of the episode. The focus of the lesson is rage; the women are required to say a few short lines while smashing pumpkins with a bat. In some cases, I felt myself squirming at the falseness of the performances, while with others, I was nodding my head, completely feeling where the scene was taking me. That's the thing about art, it's all about connection. The difficulty is that the horror genre requires a lot of over the top dialogue, expressions and story lines. How a performer brings that across without making the audience burst out laughing is what separates the women from the girls.
The final segment is the director's challenge where the actors had to film three brief scenes which were edited together to create a 30-second movie trailer. Each scene requires them to show different qualities all integral in being the ultimate scream queen: sexiness, ferocity and fear. The winner of the director's challenge becomes that week's leading lady. The poorest performer gets the axe.
Although the series doesn't make me want to see Saw (no pun intended), it does make me want to watch Gabby, Jessica and Tai (my picks for the final three) to see how they progress in their performances and in dealing with the growing intensity of the tests. While most of the other actors are forgettable, the interviews they do that narrate the episode feel sincere and not overly catty or scripted, surprising considering that they are performers. For many of these women, more than the movie role, being on this show is probably the biggest chance that they have had so far in their careers and that urgency (maybe even desperation)to succeed fuels the fire that pushes the show forward and makes it a can't miss.