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Scream (2022) – Review: A Worthy Sequel That Takes the Scream Franchise in a Fun New Direction

June 3, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B – Scream is a solid addition to the Scream franchise as it expands the universe and introduces new elements (toxic fandom, fan fiction) that can carry the franchise forward. Also, it finds an organic way to bring back the legacy characters and features a standout performance from David Arquette. 

After an 11-year absence (not counting the TV show) the world needed more Scream, and with sequels like The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Halloween (2018) doing gigantic business the time has never been better for more meta-slasher nonsense. The long gap between Scream 4 and Scream has paid dividends because during this time the cinematic world has been plagued by an onslaught of toxic fans who are angry that the sequels (or reboot sequels = requels) to their favorite films didn’t specifically try to appease them. Also, since Scream 4 was released in 2011, companies like A24, Blumhouse, IFC and Neon have released elevated horror films (a term I dislike and think only people who are new to horror use) like The Witch, The Babadook, and It Follows. These low-budget arthouse horror films which are patient, artful and not afraid of metaphors haven’t sat well with gorehounds who grew up on slasher films (and their sequels and their remakes) Thus, Scream (2022) had a gigantic sandbox to play with and it does a solid job of remaining relevant in the horror landscape.

This time the story focuses on a new slew of attacks in Woodsboro, which introduces a new crew of horror lovers. As customary for a Scream movie, the opening features Ghostface attacking a teenager named Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) who prefers The Babadook to movies like Stab 1-8. Tara survives the attack, and the news travels to her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) whom she hasn’t seen in years after she left Woodsboro. Along with Sam is her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid), a horror-newbie who hasn’t watched any of the Stab films which conveniently allows everyone to explain the history of Woodsboro to him. Rounding out the potential villain/killer group are Tara’s high school friends  Wes (Dylan Minnette), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Chad (Mason Gooding), Liv (Sonia Ammar) and Amber (Mikey Madison). Since it’s a Scream movie all of the new characters are suspects and they have a fun time trying to decide which one could be guilty. One of the highlights of the movie involves Mindy (AKA the new Randy) breaking down the rules of requels in an effort to pinpoint the killer. It’s a fun moment that brings back fond memories or Randy (Jamies Kennedy) explaining the rules in Scream and Scream 2

Writers Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt made the smart decision to introduce the new cast of characters before they bring back the beloved legacy characters Gale Weathers (Coutney Cox) Sidney Prescott (Never Campbell) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette). This allows the audience to settle in with the new crew and it lets us know that the focus should be on them, instead of legacy characters who all join in organically. The now successful Gale comes back to Woodsboro to check in on Dewey, who retired from the police force and spends his days/nights drinking after he and Gale broke up. The two separated when Gale was offered a huge job in New York, and their reunion is legitimately dramatic as both actors have great chemistry during their scenes. It would be a spoiler to reveal why Sidney comes back to town, just know that whoever wanted her to return to Woodsboro didn’t think it through because Sidney is a badass who has survived everything thrown at her. When will killers learn to liver alone?

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (watch Ready or Not now) do a fine job of juggling multiple storylines (Tara-Sam, Friend group, legacy characters) and they take several big swings that make Scream worth watching. My main complaint about recent requels is that they take the agency away from the villains (Halloween), or play like a lifeless copy of the original (Jurassic World). Scream (2022) is a meta-slasher that uses fan expectations and fan fiction to its advantage, and in the end has something to say about fandom in general. The 11-year break was smart because horror movie fandom is always evolving and it will give the Scream creators plenty of material for years to come. For instance, there is a moment that involves a lemon square callback, many opened doors, a shower, and a knife through the neck of a strategically named character that totally validates the existence of the movie. The scene features a new character, a legacy character and several easter eggs that prove you can honor prior films in the franchise and still build something new. 

Final Thoughts – I can’t wait for Scream 6!

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