Scream – Review

There’s some really wonderful stuff in here. There is also a rant about fandom throwing a fit about Rian Johnson’s involvement in Star Wars. Make of that what you will.

Scream was a revelation in 1996, an old friend in funny new clothes that came back to town to remind their graduating high school class that they were still awesome. Whereas some slasher franchises seem destined to remain dormant, this one found a set of young horror devotees in Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett). Their “eat the rich” horror comedy, Ready or Not, was a 2019 surprise that I still feel tickled by to this day. Bringing their unique talents to Wes Craven’s legacy franchise is an excellent decision, even if the duo gets lost up their own assholes here and there.

Internet culture has long been debating the “requel,” a sequel that involves long-running characters and continues an ongoing narrative because fandom doesn’t want a reboot after multiple misfires. Horror fans are somehow more particular than Star Wars fans, though the directors take their shots at originality and metatextual filmmaking in that franchise (which is odd, since the story they’ve taken on should embody that to a T). The knives don’t need to be out for this, as there’s not a drop of originality to be had, but none of it is as annoyingly frustrating as the 2009 reboot of Craven’s other film – A Nightmare on Elm Street. Rather than a greatest hits collection, the 2022 entry into the Scream series serves as a tongue-in-cheek love letter that plays the right notes in the right order.

We pick up twenty-five years after the killing spree of Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), this time on a young woman named Tara (Jenna Ortega) is attacked in an all-too familiar method. She survives, and her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) returns to town to look after her. While Sam’s boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), butts heads with Tara’s best friend, Amber (Mikey Madison), other bodies begin piling up. Dewey Riley (David Arquette) warns away Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) before joining the young crew to hunt down the killer and stop the murders once and for all.

It’s fortunate that Radio Silence not only participates in fan culture, but understands how to make it work without making their film feel like an exercise in half-assed masturbation. This is a film built entirely around references to previous films, mining as deep as possible without creating a straight-up remake, but everything feels in-line with what came before without going too far. Small cameos from YouTube horror stars and previous stars helps stay light in spite of some truly brutal moments. This, you see, is perhaps the most savager entry in the Scream franchise.

I’m not kidding. If you’re triggered by violence skip this. Stabbing someone in a film may feel quaint at this point, but when we are forced to watch it happen over and over while someone just grunts and cries out for almost a full minute at a time…it feels too real. Much of the film feels like a 90s horror flick (and calls itself out for such), but this modern take on a classic kill format won’t sit well with those looking for a sillier time in a film about what’s both glorious and hateful about fandoms.

I can’t deny that I cackled throughout Scream, sometimes in spite of what the film was trying to do, and the final title card reduced me to tears (the film is noted as being “for Wes,” which was what set off my waterworks). We’re gifted with some middling-to-great performances, notably from David Arquette. We get a score from Brian Tyler that feels as fun as it is haunted. We got some visual brutality that my fiancee described as “old-fashioned, farm-to-table kills.” Scream is, thankfully, one of the better slashers I’ve seen in the last decade. Come to think of it…the last great one I saw was Scream 4.

Scream is currently in theatres.

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