Today: April 12, 2024
Ghostface and Jenna Ortega in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream."

Scream (2022)

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 AbramsThe 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. 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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Ghostface and Jenna Ortega in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream."

Scream (2022)

The horror movie landscape has changed a lot over the years. In the last ten years alone, we’ve seen a huge rise in so-called “elevated horror” – films like Hereditary and The Babadook – so it was only a matter of time before Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s iconic meta slasher franchise Scream returned for one more scare. A decade on from the divisive Scre4m, has the series got anything left to say?

Twenty-five years after the original Woodsboro murders, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask. When her sister is brutally attacked, Sam (Melissa Barrera) must enlist the help of previous victims Dewey (David Arquette), Sidney (Neve Campbell), and Gale (Courteney Cox) – while confronting her own history that may be a vital key to the identity of the killer. If you’ve seen any Scream films, you know the story…

Let’s start with the negative. Narratively, Scream doesn’t do anything particularly new or exciting. But wasn’t that always the point of the series? The whole structure continues the Scream approach of pastiching the genre and its cliches, with this fifth entry focusing almost entirely on the ‘requel’ craze. The snappy dialogue is largely as witty as ever, although the usual deconstruction of horror tropes – particularly newer hallmarks like returning legacy characters and the aforementioned “elevated horror” – is laid on a lot thicker than usual here. The film often feels reliant on it, which detracts from its comedic impact. When self-awareness is this heavy-handed, it just feels like lazy writing. If you had a penny for every wink to the audience, you’d walk out of Scream a rich man. The pacing is a little off, too, and the runtime of just-shy-of two hours is certainly felt. 

But despite all this, Scream is still a hell of a lot of fun. For fans of the series, the returning cast and numerous callbacks are exciting and rarely feel forced, while newcomers shouldn’t feel too adrift as the film does a good job of exposition early on. The kills are imaginative and brutal – although, squeamish be warned, perhaps too violent for a Scream film and better suited for something like Halloween – and the performances are consistently excellent across the board. Arquette is particularly memorable here and certainly given the most to do out of the returning cast, while series newcomer Jack Quaid (The Boys) is a comedic standout. The whodunit mystery is genuinely compelling and consistently surprising, too, which makes for a fun and exciting watch. You’ll find your prediction for the killer’s identity will shift wildly from scene to scene as suspects are introduced, and killed – and your theory changes accordingly.

So, where does Scream sit in the franchise? It is considerably better than the third and fourth entries – although that may not be saying much. Much like those sequels, this ‘requel’ often comes dangerously close to becoming what it is spoofing, which threatens to negate the humorous self-awareness in the dialogue. But the exciting kills and stellar performances elevate the film beyond previous sequels and sit it right up there with the first two acclaimed classics.

SCREAM is exclusively in cinemas now

 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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