In 1996 we were gifted with one of the best horror movies of all time, Scream, and now four sequels later, the newest entry to the franchise Scream (2022) – also known informally as Scream 5 – has hit the big screen with a bang. Full of fun, self-referential slasher humour, and good-natured digs at toxic fandoms, Scream (2022) is a love letter to the genre as well as Wes Craven’s prior meta entries.
But all the exciting horror movie Easter eggs and the Craven homage aside, you may be wondering if the new thriller movie really lives up to the original’s legacy? Or if it finally delivers that elusive worthy Scream sequel that we have all been waiting for since the late ‘90s? (spoiler alert: it doesn’t really).
Don’t get me wrong; Scream (2022) is a fun slasher. It is full of one-liners and tense action sequences with Ghostface jumping out at victims, knife in hand – following the standard beats that we’ve all come to love and expect from any Scream movie. However, in terms of revitalising the franchise after the decade long wait since Scream 4 released in 2011, Scream (2022) relies on the same formula as every other movie in the series, making it feel like a predictable Scream movie just with new focal characters.
Despite being a direct sequel to Scream 4, Scream (2022)’s presented meta-discussion is around ‘requels‘. In case you don’t know the terminology, this refers to a continuation of earlier films in franchises that are never a direct linear continuation of the story from the last entry – like David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018). Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett Scream (2022), brilliantly pokes fun at this growing ‘requel’ trend in Hollywood, as well as horror fan bases’ heated arguments as they discuss the trend’s viability.
Returning to the quiet town of Woodsboro, one night Tara (Jenna Ortega) receives a phone call from an unknown number and becomes the target of a new Ghostface. After hearing about her sister’s attack, Sam (Mellissa Barrera) returns to Woodsboro only to discover that due to a dark secret from her past, she has become the masked murderer’s newest obsession – replacing Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as the central gal in the series.
Terrified of the mysterious killer Sam goes to ex-sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) for help, who in turn lets Sidney and his on and off again beau Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) know that a new killing spree has begun.
Seeing old and new faces band together against Ghostface by following the rules of horror movie ‘requels’ while also eyeing each other with suspicion, it feels cosy as a horror fan watching Scream (2022), as if we never left the series at all. There are twists, bloody deaths, and teens obsessed with film analysis to an annoying level (although I’m one to talk, right?). In short, it ticks all the Scream boxes in theory, and you can tell that both Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett hold a massive amount of respect for the series and horror genre itself.
But saying all that, Scream 5 just misses the mark tonally, coming across more as a pure cut and dry horror-comedy slasher than a self-aware but still intensely suspenseful Scream movie. Scream 5 never finds the right balance between its humorous meta-angle and thriller storyline, unlike Craven’s past entries, which managed to deliver this distinctive feel throughout the franchise. Dialogue in this new instalment is another big stickler that stands out as an issue in the 90-minute flick.
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In many ways, it feels as if Scream 5 is using clunky exposition and its characters’ over analysis of their situation and horror movies as a vehicle to hide any of the filmmakers’ own creative doubts. The movie continuously unpacks itself, never letting the audience breathe or sit with the mystery of whodunnit. Similarly, the constant mention of ‘requel’ hating fans dismissing everything besides the original films in horror franchises, while hilarious at first, begins to feel as if it is used more as a shield from criticism as it is constantly repeated in the script.
However, these weak points in Scream 5 don’t detract from the entertaining slasher fest that this film is. The movie is genuinely funny at points, and Ortega, as Tara, is stunning in her performance. On a gore level, despite a relatively low kill count, things get gnarly and brutal – with plenty of blood splattering and jump scares to keep hardcore fans of the sub-genres attention glued to the screen.
As a massive fan of Scream myself, I also cannot stress how good it was to see the legacy actors Campbell, Cox and Arquette all back together on screen again, going up against Ghostface once more.
Is this a good Scream movie? Yes, I’d say it is. Is it the best sequel we’ve seen in the series so far? I’d say no, but that it also isn’t the worst. Long story short, it does feel as if it has all been done before and that the promising new directors are still trying to find their footing in filling in Craven’s massive shoes. But, it’s hard to keep a self-aware slasher down on the entertainment front.
Scream (2022) is an enjoyable watch that, despite its self-conscious writing, will be a treat for any slasher fan looking for a gory and chuckle-inducing time.
Scream (2022) hits theatres on January 14, 2022.