"Scream" stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, and Marley Shelton. Released on January 14, 2022, the film has Sidney Prescott teaming up with a new group of teenagers to take down Ghostface.
The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who also directed films such as "Devil's Due" and "Ready Or Not". It is the fifth installment in the Scream film series and a direct sequel to 2011's "Scream 4". January just isn't complete without something to scare the pants off of us, let alone a horror sequel. Wes Craven's "Scream" was an iconic horror gem that revived the slasher genre for audiences with its fun scares, surprising twists, and satirization of the genre cliches. The film's critical and commercial success led to it spawning three more installments, including "Scream 4", which happened to be the final film by Craven before his death in 2015. Despite this unfortunate issue, Hollywood decided to bring the horror franchise back for another round of kills, thrills, and maybe a laugh or two. Regarding my experience with "Scream", I've only seen the first two installments and "Scream 4" so far. I didn't bother with "Scream 3" because I heard that one was "meh". I also didn't watch the television series of the same name because…well, just because. That alone should be enough for me to revisit this franchise, especially since it has Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett taking over directing duties for Craven. But is the new management enough to revive the meta slasher franchise, or is it another unnecessary revival that should be stabbed multiple times? Let's find out.
The story is set after the events of "Scream 4". It centers on a new group of teenagers living in the quiet town of Woodsboro, including Sam Carpenter (Barrera), Richie Kirsch (Quaid), and Chad Meeks-Martin (Gooding). The town quickly went from peaceful to nightmarish once again when a new Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) arrives and targets the defenseless teens and the other innocent people. This catches the attention of four-time survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), former sheriff Dewey Riley (Arquette), and journalist Gale Weathers (Cox), forcing them to return to the past that's tormenting them for years. The three will have to team up with Sam and the other teens to unmask Ghostface and put an end to his reign of terror for good. Like the previous installments, 2022's "Scream" is the film that forces viewers to watch it blind due to its amount of twists and turns, including Ghostface's true identity. It's easy to experience it blindly, but explaining the film without accidentally revealing the surprises is another story. That's how I describe the process of watching the "Scream" franchise. I was a bit hesitant when the trailer showed that it would be a serious and formulaic slasher sequel compared to the humorous yet terrifyingly fun predecessors. However, those worries were quickly thrown right out the window after watching its opening act. That's when I knew that the franchise might be in good hands. From its new blood to the well-executed twists, the fifth "Scream" film is quite possibly one of the better "legacy sequels" I've seen in recent years. One of the core elements that made the "Scream" movies famous was undoubtedly the humor. Aside from the kills, "Scream" is best known for providing clever callbacks and jokes involving the cliches that plagued many horror movies for years. For 2022's "Scream", writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick take it a step further by poking fun at remake sequels (or "requels"), fandoms, and my personal favorite, naming a sequel after the original with no number or subtitle. The film's meta edge worked well in providing some solid laughs and a good amount of nostalgia for fans of the 1996 cult classic. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett (from Radio Silence) had plenty of shoes to fill regarding their task to continue the franchise. Wes Craven was seen as a genius who effectively combines horror and satire and makes both elements as fun and scary as possible. It was one of the reasons why specific films like "Scream" and "New Nightmare" are still as influential as they were before. Fortunately, the directors managed to get the job done by honoring Craven's meta slasher franchise while delivering a fun balance between humor, horror, and drama. Yes, I did say that there's some character drama amid the film's bloody kills. Thankfully, those moments came across as somewhat endearing rather than jarring, mainly due to the film's entertaining characters. Like what they did in their previous work, "Ready or Not", the directors injected some energetic fun and frights in the film's scares and humor without relying too much on its dramatic and dark tone. While it did offer some familiar genre elements that it's making fun of, the filmmakers never lost focus on creating an entertaining and nostalgic experience for both the fans and newcomers. Another thing that made "Scream" work was the cast, especially the new "victims". Melissa Barrera from "In the Heights" did a suitable job with her leading role as Sam Carpenter, a teen who's forced to confront her past to stop Ghostface. What's her history? You're going to have to watch the movie to find out. The rest of the new cast was also pretty entertaining regarding their performances, including Jenna Ortega as Tara Carpenter (Sam's sister) and Jack Quaid as Richie. As for Campbell, Arquette, and Cox as Sidney, Dewey, and Gale, respectively, they're just as good as they were in the previous films. What makes them even better is that they serve as essential roles to the story, which is crucial when making legacy sequels. But what about the kills? Are they still as bloody as ever? Long story short: they were. With good jump scares that got me screaming and its restraint on being too far-fetched, the kills were simple to a fault yet terrifyingly glorious to witness for slasher fans.
Overall, 2022's "Scream" outshined the "bad horror movie in January" curse to provide another entertaining and hilarious entry in the iconic franchise. It doesn't add anything special to its genre elements, but for something like this, it didn't have to. It just needed to deliver an old-fashioned popcorn scare-fest that respects the franchise's fans and horror freaks alike. For the most part, Radio Silence managed to get the job done in bloody fashion. Thanks to its likable cast, direction, satirization, and fun scares, the film once again honors (and makes fun of) the slasher genre in more ways than one. I still find it amazing that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett went from directing a cruddy found-footage film "Devil's Due" to having two good horror films. I guess I can say that I'll be keeping an eye on the filmmaking duo from now on. I would also say that this is a sequel that the late Wes Craven would've been proud of regarding the effort that was put into it. If they decided to make more of these movies, I would be more than happy to return to Woodsboro and experience Ghostface's reign of terror again.
“The 355” stars Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Sebastian Stan, and Édgar Ramírez. Released on January 7, 2022, the film has a team of female agents saving the world from a terrorist organization.
The film was directed by Simon Kinberg, who also directed "Dark Phoenix" and wrote several films like "Mr. & Mrs. Smith", "Jumper", "Sherlock Holmes", and "X-Men: Days of Future Past". Do you remember when I started 2021 with an action-packed movie instead of a cruddy horror film? It was a great change of pace for me. So how about we do it again this year with another nail-biting, gut-punching extravaganza? The first film of 2022 I'll be looking at today unites several big-name actresses for a new spy adventure that'll get several people in their seats. More importantly, it marks the latest movie to be directed by Simon Kinberg, who is well-known for his writing in terms of the action genre. Unfortunately, his directing skills weren't as hard-hitting as the action as his directorial debut, "Dark Phoenix", brought the X-Men franchise to an underwhelming and messy close. While I did appreciate the team for giving the "Dark Phoenix Saga" another chance, I can also admit that the overall execution failed to erase their previous misstep in "X-Men: The Last Stand". Kinberg now seeks to redeem himself with his sophomore film that has no relation to Marvel's mutant team. Was he able to accomplish that goal with this latest spy movie? Let's find out.
The story follows Mason Browne (Chastain), a wild card CIA officer. She and her colleague, Nick Fowler (Stan), are tasked to retrieve a dangerous device capable of controlling technology. When the device fell into the wrong hands, and Nick is killed in action, Browne will have to join forces with other agents from different organizations that have the same agenda: Khadijah Adiyeme (Nyong'o) from MI6, Marie Schmidt (Kruger) from BND, Graciela Rivera (Cruz) from DNI, and Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing) from MSS. They would have to trust each other to prevent the bad guys from using the device to start World War III. Interestingly, this film was named after Agent 355, a codename of a female spy for the Patriots during the American Revolution. So I guess you can say that the film showcases the characters continuing Agent 355's legacy of protecting the United States. Now, I wasn't expecting an in-depth examination of the codename and its history amid its high-octane action scenes because that would be boring. A film like this just needs to be a fun popcorn spy film that happens to have an impressive cast and international locations. I mean, let's face it, in situations like this, we always need some escapism in our lives. For the most part, "The 355" offered enough material to earn that classification. Although, that doesn't make the film suitable to stand alongside the other female-led action films that came before it. Aside from a few twists and suspenseful moments, the film didn't deliver anything too special in its formula regarding the direction and screenplay. It's a generic, by-the-numbers spy thriller that showcased female empowerment in the genre yet faltered in its emotional and gripping concept. Simon Kinberg is the type of person who understands the process of entertaining his audience but struggles to provide a worthy storyline to please everyone. There were a couple of instances that could've worked well in his favor, especially with the characters and themes, but sadly, the formula cliches and flat execution squandered them. "The 355" is no exception as it saw Kinberg struggling to balance its character depth and messages about trust with its formulaic narrative. From Kinberg and Theresa Rebeck's subpar script to the film's one-dimensional antagonist, "The 355" is equivalent to a fizzy drink. It's got a lively taste when you first drink it but slowly loses its flavor as you continue to chug it down. However, the film had a couple of elements that I enjoyed more than others, including the cast. The main female leads did a respectable job carrying the plot forward amid the violence with their performances and chemistry. While not as electrifying as the action sequences, they did put a noticeable effort in making me care for the characters a bit, especially Nyong'o and Cruz as Khadijah and Graciela, respectively. Jessica Chastain was also decent in her central role as Mason Browne, and Sebastian Stan did fine with his performance as Nick despite his character being forgettable. As for the action scenes, they're nothing that will blow people's minds like "Shang-Chi" or "John Wick" quality-wise, but they're watchable regardless. The only minor issue with them was the film's predictable uses of shaky-cam maneuvers and quick cuts in a few sequences. Kinberg may be a man with a thirst for people punching and shooting each other, but he's far from someone with a unique taste in action cinematography.
Overall, "The 355" has its moments regarding its entertainment values and cast. Unfortunately, they're not enough to shoot its way past its generically bland presentation. While it works as a popcorn film you would watch on a weekend afternoon, the film sadly didn't have the right skill set to qualify as the world's top spy. With its cliched formula, Kinberg's subpar direction, average screenplay, and mediocre characters, the film marks a pretty rough start of the new year regarding the action genre. It's also a surefire sign that Simon Kinberg still has plenty of work to do to get people to take him seriously as a director. If you don't care that much about the plot and want a piece of action-packed escapism, you should be fine watching this film. Otherwise, you're better off waiting for the next "Mission: Impossible" movie.