Ten Backe says from schlock horror fans, to "elevated horror" lovers, no one is safe. Spoiler filled review ahead, read at your own risk.
Eleven years after the release of Scream 4 (2011), was the world ready for a new Scream film? Hell yeah we are! Written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and directed by Matt Nettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready Or Not), this is the first Scream sequel without the beloved director of Scream (1996), Wes Craven. Obviously, like many others, I was hesitant with my expectations. Could there really be a Scream film without Wes? I'm happy to report, Scream (2022) delivers everything I could have wanted for the franchise.
Taking place 25-years after the original Woodsburo murders, Ghostface returns. Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) finds herself in the hospital after being attacked in the perfectly mirrored Scream (1996) homage to the original opener. Her older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) has moved away, but returns to Woodsboro with her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid), to make sure that Tara is okay. In a wild turn of events we soon discover that Sam is actually the daughter of one of the original Ghostface killers Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). I admit, I didn’t see this twist coming.
In an effort to save her sister and herself from the new Ghostface killer, Sam enlists the help of franchise icon, and known survivor, Dewey Riley (David Arquette). Of course, he immediately informs the other “legacy characters” Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell). I saw this film in theaters opening night—with a big smile under my mask as the crowd cheered for every iconic character's return. The time gap since the last film is handled extremely well, and it is easy to believe that they really are living in this meta world.
Soon we meet all of Tara’s friends and our suspects, realizing they are all connected to the original murders, everyone is related to a character from Scream (1996) or a sequel. We are lucky enough to be blessed with the wonderful scene stealer and main cast queer character, Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown). She isn't defined by her sexuality, but is instead treated as the new version of the original film's Randy Meeks. She is literally his neice. Along with Mindy’s twin brother Chad (Mason Gooding), and now Sheriff Judy Hicks' (Marley Shelton) son Wes (Dylan Minnette), we have a wild number of tie-ins to the original film.
The bodies pile up quickly—both new and legacy characters. The film never turns away, as kill after kill is shown using masterful camerawork and special effects. Even the saddest deaths aren’t afraid to be brutal and in your face. The loss of iconic legacy character Dewey, while not completely unexpected, was heartbreaking. The film captures his final moments in an almost Western style standoff scene that is both violent and sad enough to provoke tears. Due to the artistry and care put into this sequence, Dewey’s death becomes one of the best moments in the film.
The meta level gets turned up to near Scream 3 (2000) levels as we find out that the in-universe Stab movie franchise has just released an eighth installment, "Sta8". The playful but real critique on toxic fandoms in horror really struck a chord with me. Seething horror fans have taken to the internet to dogpile the hate onto the new film and in turn inspired our new Ghostface killers. When Hollywood runs out of original ideas, it’s up to psychos to inspire them, don’t you think?
As the film progresses, Sam’s boyfriend Richie and Tara's friend Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) out themselves as the latest duo to take up the Ghostface mantle. In an effort to inspire better Stab films, they lure the entire cast back into the iconic location of the original murders, Stu Macher’s house. Campbell and Cox magically sprinkle sarcasm and irony into every one of Sydney and Gales lines. It feels like all of the characters have somehow been in this situation before, and they all know that this is a movie. Even the jumpscares feel almost like parodies of the other films, but Scream manages to stay genuine and never feels cheap.
The film ends with a surprisingly high count of the main cast surviving. Leaving us a brand new cast of characters to terrorize in the officially announced sequel, Scream 6. Gale decides that instead of writing her next book about the murders again, this time, she will write a tribute to the people they’ve lost. "For Wes," flashes on screen just before the credits roll. I felt a genuine tear fall down my face in that moment.
I'm a huge fan of the series, and in my opinion, this is one of, if not the best films, since the original. It's messy, over the top, has confusing and unnecessary character attachments, ridiculous dialogue, and takes meta to a new level. The violence is in your face, the way I'd like any slasher to be. The characters walk carefully along the line of a breaking the fourth wall at all times. Sure, it's not groundbreaking, but I didn't expect it to be, and honestly, I didn’t want it to be.
It is clear to me that the Radio Silence team loves this franchise just as much as the fans and critics. While Scream isn’t stuffed with new political takes, or deep psychological readings, it does put up a mirror to all horror fans. From schlock horror fans, to "elevated horror" lovers, no one is safe from criticism. It's fun, violent, scary, modern, and derivative, while still staying respectful to the original. I have no doubt that this film will only be appreciated more as time passes. I can’t wait to watch it again.