"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.