Let’s get one thing out of the way; the original Scream is an icon of not just the horror genre but also in cinema in general. Rarely, if ever, has a film so seamlessly managed to be both hommage, pastiche and part of a genre while still being exactly what you need from a horror; scary.
26 years later and now in its fifth installment in the franchise Scream (2022 – don’t worry, they cover the outrage of not giving it an actual sequel number) arrives and does exactly what you need it to do.
25 years after the original murders in Woodsboro a new killer has returned who has plans on reinventing the genre. Sam (Melisa Barrera) and her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) head to town to try and get to the bottom of what is going on but secrets from the past soon come back to slice and dice. Before long the original film’s heroes; Gale (Courtney Cox), Dewey (David Arquette) and final girl Sidney (Neve Campbell) are drawn back to the murderous ways of ghostface as a group of teenagers become both prime suspects and potential victims.
The latest Scream starts slow, eager to dip newcomers into the red waters of the franchise like a fish being slowly placed in a new bowl. The result feels a little forced but by the end of the first act we are well and truly back into the territory the Scream films have always excelled at. Namely giving great scares, memorable set-pieces and no end of meta-referencing.
What makes this Scream so satisfying is the clear affection the team behind it have for the original. Like JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens – another film they happily reference – it manages to revere the original while in a smartly unique way, remaking it. And that is not to say it feels repetitive, although most Scream films follow the same formula, but that it feels both familiar like a cozy jumper and original.
You might guess who the killer is early on but the script is always right there with you, quite literally accusing everyone of being a suspect leaving you no choice but to give up the guessing game and just enjoy the ride.
The returning cast by now do this in their sleep but Neve Campbell in particular brings a reassuring resilience and strength to Sidney. The newcomers are for the most part solid, Jack Quaid does a fun job of being the voice of reason while Yellowjackets’ Jasmin Savoy Brown does a great job of putting a new spin on the ‘geek’ role. However it is Melisa Barrera who offers the franchise something fresh, a leading lady with a dark secret who can more than hold her own.
While it doesn’t reinvent the franchise, Scream is a hugely fun, often gory horror love letter.