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Scream Review [2]

January 14, 2022 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Ghostface Scream Image Credit: Paramount Pictures
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Scream Review [2]  

* Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott
* Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers
* David Arquette as Dewey Riley
* Melissa Barrera as Samantha Carpenter
* Jack Quaid as Richie Kirsch
* Mason Gooding as Chad Meeks-Martin
* Mikey Madison as Amber Freeman
* Dylan Minnette as Wes Hicks
* Jasmin Savoy Brown: as Mindy Meeks-Martin
* Roger L. Jackson as the voice of Ghostface

Story: 25 years after the original Woodsboro murders and eleven years after the last massacre, more killings begin in Woodsboro. A new group of teens are picked off one by one as they try to solve the mystery and eventually turn to the original survivors for help.

At this point, you have to wonder why anyone would live in Woodsboro. This is a town where now three killing sprees have occurred, and it’s not a ghost town yet for some reason. I say this as a fan of the movies, and I assume the answer is insanely low property values. A realtor is not a lofty career choice in Woodsboro, that’s all I’m saying.

It’s eleven years later and you might wonder why Scream (or Scream 5, as I prefer) picks up very self-aware that it’s a series that has grown just as long in the tooth as the slashers the original film once made fun of. It has a little bit of a Scream 4 flavor in that, but sticks the landing a lot better than that did. Scream 4 was enjoyable for what it was, and Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettierre were great, but it was far more dependent on what came before than this was. As one of the characters smartly points out, this time there are stakes.

The movie opens as all Scream movies do, and even points out that fact when it does. We get a fun little game of cat and mouse with the first victim, and then a surprising twist early on as the movie continues. In fact the whole movie is like that. There are always little twists and wrinkles added to the plot in order for the movie to justify itself as more important than the other sequels. I don’t know if I’d say it’s the best sequel (it’s really hard to top Scream 2), but it’s a very fun time at the movies.

The first point is the new cast. This movie tries, even if it doesn’t always succeed (two of them are criminally underdeveloped) to give everyone something to make them stand out beyond “this person is here to die.” That was something the third and fourth entries had trouble with. Outside of Kincaid and Kirby, you didn’t care as much about anyone but the original trio in those movies. Here, there were a few likeable people that I wanted to see survived. That helps a great deal because this is a proper “requel”, establishing a new beginning while paying homage to what came before.

Standouts include Jenna Ortega as Tara, Jack Quaid as Richie and Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy-Meeks Martin. Yes, that ‘Meeks’ should give you a clear idea of who she’s related to. And yes, she’s the ‘Randy’ of this movie. But it’s not nearly as obvious. She’s a lot hipper and cooler than her uncle, and yet still finds herself in similar situations. Tara, meanwhile, is way too good for the role she is in. Jack Quaid almost steals every movie he’s in with his one-liners.

That’s another thing this movie gets right. It’s funny again. I’d argue the series hasn’t been funny since the original, and that’s kind of why the original is so revered. People tend to forget that Scream is a horror-comedy. The comedy is very, very dark, but it’s still there. And it’s here too, as people are still able to find the humor in a disturbing situation. Sure, it’s gallows humor as they jokingly accuse their friends of being murderers, but it’s still humor.

There have been other views claiming that this is also the scariest since the original. Your mileage may vary with that, as the original was never really meant to be all that scary. That said, this has a lot of tension and edge-of-year-seat moments. People were audibly gasping in the audience (I may have been one of them) during some key moments and squirmed in my seat during some of the violence. Ghostface is a lot meaner this time around, not settling for mere gut stabs and shootings.

Of course, you can’t talk about a Scream movie, especially one like this, without bringing up the legacy cast. There may be some disappointed with just how much those cast members are around, but that’s kind of the point. They’re meant to push the series forward in a new direction, not take over. Scream 4 tried that but wasn’t confident enough in its new cast to not have Dewey, Sidney and Gale take backseats. This is fine with it, as the torch is handed over in a respectful way. They’re all on screen exactly as long as they need to be and they get several fun little moments while they’re there. I’d argue this is David Arquette’s movie more than anyone else, as the trailers reflect. He acts the hell out this and it shows just how much he’s grown as an actor over the years. Beyond the trio returning, you also have a ton of callbacks and loving homages to the original, showing that even if it’s not possible to have Wes Craven direct, you at least have people in charge who clearly love the man’s work.

Are there problems? Sure, but some of those problems are inherent to the DNA of a Scream sequel (such as logic-bending retconning). Mostly I had a problem with the whodunnit aspect more than anything else. It tries to have its cake and eat it too by introducing and killing obvious red herrings and the reveal of the killer (or killers) felt a little flat due to somehow being too obvious and not obvious enough. That said, it didn’t really matter because once the reveal happens, the person(s) behind everything are 100% game to be absolutely insane. That’s something commendable about the villains in this series (except the third film), is their ability to commit to the material. I appreciate an actor that is not afraid with hamming it up for my entertainment.

Even if the whodunnit isn’t as strong as it was in the original, it doesn’t quite matter. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who gave us the tremendous Ready or Not in 2019, once again find a nice balance between the jokes and the bloodshed, as well as add some heart that you didn’t think this franchise could still have. It’s definitely the best Scream movie since the 90s, and possibly the best since the original.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Scream is a worthy addition to the franchise and possibly the best since the original. While the mystery elements fall a little flat, you won't notice thanks to the great moments of tension, the jokes, the loving homage to the original. It does well in showing respect to the legacy characters, but the new cast hold up their end as well. If you're a fan of the franchise at all, you owe it to yourself to see this (safely) and avoid spoilers.

article topics :

Scream, Scream 5, Joseph Lee