It’s safe to say that we are entering a new phase of the slasher sub-genre as the new ‘Scream‘ was released a couple months after the new ‘Halloween‘ and a month before the new ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. While horror has taken quite the artistic direction in the late 2010s with what is now considered elevated horror, it shines a light on how slasher movies are truly a product of their time. The ‘Scream‘ franchise especially explores and comments on slasher tropes and undeniably falls victim to them more often than not. This new fifth instalment, simply but cleverly titled ‘Scream‘ is here to comment on the recent ‘requel’ trend. It’s also quite fitting since after every new step the ‘Halloween‘ franchise takes, the ‘Scream‘ franchise returns to comment on it. So, how does this new entry comment on slashers and does it really get a pass because of it’s self-aware nature?
spoilers for all five ‘Scream‘ movies are featured in this review.
In every ‘Scream‘ movie, the killer is always motivated by pre-existing movie tropes. ‘Scream 2’ is darker and bloodier, ‘Scream 3’ has revelations about Sidney’s past and ‘Scream 4’ utilizes social media and featues the intensely gory violence from the slashers of the early 2010s. The new ‘Scream‘ comments on fandom, elevated horror and the requel. Chronologically, these movies make sense in that regard. Watching them back to back for the first time in January acted like a time-machine of sorts. The franchise moves you through the multiple stages horror has taken since the ’90s. That being said, the meta nature of these movies, while being the selling point, hasn’t always been as clever as it thinks it is. My mind immediately flashbacks to the ‘Scream 2’ opening where Jada Pinkett Smith’s character dies tragically despite the movie acknowleding how black people are usually killed off first in horror movies. It’s a reoccuring trend to call out something then directly make use of it a couple scenes later. If Ghostface is aware he’s creating a movie, he’s biding by movie rules, the thing is, the movies don’t do much to subvert these tropes. It isn’t as clever as the first movie but it’s clever enough. It subverts just enough tropes to carry that ‘Scream’ meta credit.
A ‘requel’, a term this movie cleverly conceives, is a movie that is not quite a sequel, not quite a reboot but a reintroduction to the franchise with new characters guided by the legacy characters. Think of the new ‘Star Wars’ sequel trilogy, the new ‘Jurassic World’ trilogy and of course, the new ‘Halloween’ trilogy. As long as nostalgia exists, this newfound trend will likely never go out of style. Usually the way these movies work is through a slight rework of the original movie with new characters being passed the torch (pun intended) by the legacy characters. New main characters face off either the same threat or someone heavily inspired by that original villain, with ‘Scream‘ it’s a mixture of both since Ghostface is merely a costume. Usually the legacy characters don’t ever fully reunite and never will as one of them dies. Luke, Han and Leia never reunited together and Han dies in ‘The Force Awakens’. Sidney, Gale and Dewey never reunite together for one scene and Dewey bites the dust. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of how these requels treat their legacy characters and this wasn’t really an exception. We didn’t really get enough of Dewey in this movie, his death’s emotional toll relied on the fact that he is a legacy character and that he fell off after ‘Scream 4’. Gale was given the slightest of arcs and Sidney basically came in to replace Dewey for the third act. There’s a scene where they stop in front of Stu’s house and a screaming Amber comes out begging for help. Sid and Gale recognize the fact that it’s a trap and yet Gale still gets shot. This is the fifth time they’re going through this, you would think they’d wear a bulletproof vest like Ghostface by now.
All of this being said, the use of the ‘requel’ concept for a new ‘Scream‘ movie, makes perfect sense. Horror sequels are usually inferior with some of them being flat out embarrasing. It was a great idea to treat ‘Stab‘ with the same mindset as a proper franchise. Realistically the ‘Stab‘ movies would get dull eventually. Richie and Amber’s justification for murder is that they want to provide new, original material for ‘Stab‘ to translate as a requel. It’s crazy, it’s insane, it’s the most ‘Scream‘ thing ever. Outside of a couple things, this movie absolutely nails this concept. It justifies it’s clear parallels to the original by being a meta requel. The fantastic opening scene is one of the franchise’s best, Jenny Ortega nails that scene perfectly. The inclusion of modern technology was genius in the sense that it’s not only innovative in the actual context of the scene but in ten to fifteen years, it’s going to feel nostalgic and endearingly dated just like the original. The use of bloody fingerprints and touchscreens was as clever as it was intense. Ghostface as a character is in top form here with a sharp killcount, brutal kills and a menacing presence. Killing Judy and Wes Hicks mere moments apart was truly horrible, one of the saddest kills in the entire franchise. The entire hospital section was also incredibly tense. Forcing Sam to pick between saving Tara or Ritchie was just utterly sadistic, I truly believed one of them was going to die. I wonder what would’ve happened if she said Ritchie though!
Speaking of the characters, I have to say, the casting choices were truly inspired. Every character had such a distinct personality and was so much fun to see interact with one another. Jenny Ortega is true final girl material, as much as this movie wants me to root for Sam, to me Tara is the new Sidney. She is far more likeable and interesting in my opinion. Her group of friends is perfectly cast. Such likeable presences that truly elevated the movie’s enjoyability factor and made up for the fact that it honestly wasn’t as humouros as the other sequels. Jasmin Savoy Brown’s Mindy is the clear standout, I hope she lasts longer than Randy though. The entire ‘requel’ scene might honestly be my favourite scene in the movie. Her line delivery was perfect. Mason Gooding (from ‘Love, Victor’) is genuinely such a nice, charming and effortlessly funny guy. He demands to be cast in a rom-com or a comedy. I am so happy they both survived. Mikey Madison and Jack Quaid as the killers were so much fun to watch, especially in the crazy third act. Madison was a ton of fun, she channeled the same energy Matthew Lillard did in the original. It’s a shame she wasn’t given more to do. Quaid is also fantastic as the genuinely likeable, too good to be true boyfriend that turns it up to an eleven once it’s revealed he’s one of the two killers. It’s hilarious that on rewatch, it’s so obvious he’s the killer because he is constantly questioning whether other people are the killer or not. Also last but not least, as a certified Wallows fan, Dylan Minnette was just perfect. I was ecstatic when I heard ‘I Don’t Want To Talk’ play during the credits. I wish he survived past the halftime checkpoint however!
It also goes without saying that the legacy cast is amazing as well even if they deserved to be included more. David Arquette takes Dewey to a sad, lonely place in this movie and I really wish we had gotten to see more or him, especially since we won’t ever see him again. Cox and Campbell are still the Sid and Gale we fell in love with in the first movie, I just wish they were better prepared. My biggest issue with character however has to do with the protagonist herself, Sam Carpenter played by Melissa Barrera. I was never once captivated by her character or Barrera’s performance for that matter. The concept that she’s Billy Loomis’ daughter was half-baked in it’s execution. It was easily the weakest aspect of the movie which was a bit disappointing considering she is the main character. There are moments in the first two acts where the pacing honestly drags and it’s mostly when she is on-screen. If she is the new face of the franchise, I really hope they make her more compelling in the future.
Overall, this fifth instalment of ‘Scream‘ was a blast to watch. Despite some pacing problems and a few character-related hiccups, this was a great sequel, definitely one of the better ones. This is a movie that understands what a ‘Scream‘ movie is made up of, I am genuinely excited for the future of this franchise. In comparison to the newer requels, I would definitely say this is one of the best. Just like ‘Scream 4′, it adapts to the modern times and utilizes fresh new ideas to intertwine with that classic 1996 formula. It brings back these characters for a well-worth time and as a fifth entry in a 26-year old franchise, it’s impressive how good this movie actually is. In my review for ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ I said that that movie took too long to get here. With this new ‘Scream’ however, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
‘Scream’ (2022) is still showing in select theatres now. It is available for digital purchase starting from today. DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD release this April.