Released: 15th January
Seen: 24th January
The first horror movie I ever saw was a little film called Scream. Obviously not when it came out (I would’ve been 8) but several years later I got a DVD of it as a birthday present from, of all people, my grandmother. Apparently, she’d asked around what movies I enjoyed and at that time I’d rented the Wayans Brothers comedy Scary Movie a lot so she got that info, something got lost in translation and I had a copy of Scream that I didn’t watch until there was nothing but sports on TV and it was my only option for entertainment… and before the end of the opening scene I was hooked.
The entire franchise of Scream became one of my favourites and turned me into a lover of the genre. The opening scene with Drew Barrymore is etched into my brain as one of the greatest openings in film history. The second film is a genuine classic, taking what the first film did so well and twisting it enough to be wildly entertaining… OK the third film sucked ass but the fourth one was a glorious return to form with so many great moments (Kirby was right, she should’ve been safe god damn it!)… and then we lost Wes and I was so sure we wouldn’t get any more Scream films. How could you without the icon Wes Craven at the helm? I tell you this to let you know how I went into Scream (2022), I was nervous about how they were going to follow up one of my favourite series of films… turns out, they did it by doing what Wes would’ve done.
Scream (2022) starts like most Scream films do, with a brutal murder… or at least, an attempt at one. Our opening girl, Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), somehow manages to survive her brutal meeting with Ghostface which causes her sister Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and Samantha’s boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) to make the trip back to Woodsboro. There they meet up with Tara and a bunch of her friends and realise that this wasn’t a one-off, there’s a new Ghostface in town and they won’t stop until they’ve gotten what they want… or until the original trio of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) come back to Woodsboro to stop another killer.
This time around, Scream (2022) has decided to take on requels, those movies that are part reboot and part sequel (think Jigsaw, Halloween, Ghostbusters) and use the tropes of this new era of horror films as the core foundation. It’s kind of a brilliant little trick, allowing the film to lean into nostalgia for the original film in subtle ways (fans will recognise a lot of shots that are clear callbacks to the original) and in ways that are about as subtle as a brick to the face (One of the main characters is called Wes… do I even need to explain how this could be used?). It also uses that comforting nostalgia to put the audience in a good mood with a false sense of security before pulling the rug out from under them and using that very nostalgia to create more than a few great shocker moments.
Scream (2022) also tackles toxic fan culture, pointing out the stupid overreactions some people have to movies they don’t like and mocking them mercilessly for it. You can tell that the people who wrote this have done their homework and have seen fan backlash up close cos they nailed this element, it’s honestly more important to the story than the ‘requel’ stuff and makes for a lot more cathartic moments… just saying, if you were one of those assholes who got really upset about Star Wars The Last Jedi, this film is calling you out and it’s not subtle about it.
Beyond the satire that this franchise is well known for, Scream (2022) really does all the classic things you have come to expect. The characters we love come back and are just as great as ever (honestly this might contain some of the best work from Courtney Cox in this franchise, Neve and David continue just being generally great all around but the highlights come from Courtney), the new characters are all well acted and well cast, even if there’s a lot of them that are just there for the body count. That body count is pretty damn high this time, and there are more than a few truly shocking brutal moments that happen in broad daylight that will certainly get you gasping.
Sure there are a few flaws, certain characters kind of fade into the background more than they should and some lines of dialogue are more clunky than usual (like, bordering on turning to the camera and saying ‘Here is my character motivation). It definitely feels like there were another couple of passes at the script needed to fix the minor issues in terms of the characters and dialogue. Some issues we can forgive (any Scream fan is very used to ignoring the height problems that happen once we have the big reveal) but there are some that hold this back from being great. It’s really good, good enough that I’m actually kinda hopeful about a Scream 6 but it could’ve been better.
Honestly, the biggest compliment that you can give Scream (2022) is that this feels like the film Wes would’ve made. It feels like his hand guided everything, you can feel the love for him in every frame of the film. The man had quite a legacy and this franchise was a huge part of it, so seeing how his legacy continued on and managed to still kinda work even without Wes at the helm… it’s just nice. It’s a fine follow up that continues Scream’s legacy of being a clever send up of the genre.