Benjamin Wollmuth is a writer who loves to express his opinions on literature, TV, film, video games, and other media.
Scream is the newest "requel" to be added to the horror genre, a term the film coins that I actually quite like. The best and most notable requel that I can think of is Halloween (2018), a film that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, 2022's Scream isn't just a sequel that attempts to reboot the franchise after ten years of dormancy (and I am not counting the TV show because it is not canon); it also happens to be a January horror film, which isn't always a good sign.
I think the Scream franchise is good, not great. While I don't think the first Scream is a perfect movie, it was still a fantastic piece of horror cinema that was satirical and funny while still being highly suspenseful. The sequels are, for the most part, pretty good (minus Scream 3), but no sequel has ever matched the quality of the first. The same can be said about the newest entry, yet I still think the film does some great things while still having some issues.
Let's get into it, shall we?
I avoid major spoilers up until I start talking about the kills. If you don't want spoilers, just skip that section and you should be good to go.
As I mentioned in the intro, the film is acting as a requel: a long-awaited sequel meant to reboot a seemingly dead franchise. 2018's Halloween is the most notable, in my opinion, for it erased every film after the original from canon to instead act as a continuation of the story started by the first and best film of the franchise. While Scream doesn't erase any of the previous films from canon, it does try its best to comment on requels in much the same way that the previous Scream films commented on horror sequels.
But the real question is: does it work? Well, to an extent. However, there is a point when things start to feel less like a commentary on requels and more like derivatives. And trust me, I understand that that is kind of the point. The film is meant to go back to the franchise's roots, which often means going back to similar settings and recreating certain scenes, not only for fan service but for making the film feel like the original. With that being said, there is an extent, and once the film passes that extent, it starts to get a little annoying. Because the film is supposed to be satirical, and because this is the 5th movie in the franchise, the film's characters are extremely self-aware. This means that everyone is acting like Randy Meeks, which, after a while, gets extremely redundant and mundane. Once again––and I know I've used this word a lot, but I'm trying to get my point across––the film passes the extent, which hurts the film in the end. As I like to say, being obviously self-aware does not give the filmmakers an excuse to follow the same tropes and cliches that they are commenting on, and I will stand by that statement until the day I die.
On the good side of things, the characters' self-awareness leads to some pretty entertaining moments that definitely make the film feel a little fresh. So, while this isn't a perfect satire, it definitely has some great elements that make it stand out amongst the other sequels in the franchise.
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The Characters (New and Old)
The characters are some of the most important parts of Scream movies. The first movie developed some of the best characters in horror history, including Randy Meeks and the three legendary characters who appear in this movie. As shown in the trailers, Dewey, Gale, and Sidney all make an appearance. Sidney and Gale are not in the film as much as I expected, but Dewey joins the cast pretty early on and actually does a lot.
As for the new cast of characters, they aren't wonderfully developed, but I can see why the filmmakers wouldn't want to take the time to develop characters who were put in the story just to die. However, the first film did so well with their characters, so I don't think it's impossible to properly develop side characters. The two standouts, however, are Melissa Barrera's Sam and Jenna Ortega's Tara, who play sisters in the film and are essentially the Sidney Prescotts of this generation. They have interesting ties to the original film, which was unexpected (and a little weird) but not completely unbelievable. However, even though all of the new cast are extremely self-aware and understand the rules to surviving a horror movie, they still manage to make dumb decisions that ultimately get many of them killed. This was not the worst cast of a Scream movie, but it was definitely not the best.
So, as I mentioned in the introduction, I will be discussing spoilers as I talk about the kills in the movie. Why? Well, I want to talk about who died and who the killers were because there are some things that I just can't believe. Firstly, my boy Dylan Minnette dies, and that upset me deeply. Secondly, the franchise finally decided to kill Dewey, and in a fairly gruesome way, too. I hate to see him go, but I had a hunch that it would happen. Here's what doesn't make sense to me: Dewey was killed by... a fairly skinny girl. I'm not saying a woman can't beat a man in a fight. What I'm saying is that she didn't really appear to have a strong enough build to take Dewey down, but perhaps Dewey's previous injuries made him a little weaker. Yet, she managed to take down a jock as well, which, again, doesn't make sense to me.
My biggest problem with the Scream sequels is that the killers don't really feel developed, either. Billy and Stu worked in the first movie because it was the first movie, so the duo's motivations could be whatever Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson decided them to be. Every movie after that, however, had to create a strong reason for why the killers were recreating the killings from 1996, and I never really saw them as strong. These killers aren't strong either, for they are really just toxic fanboys of the in-world Stab movies trying to create new content for a better sequel that will appease the fans. The reason they choose Sam as the newest victim is because she is the daughter of Billy Loomis. There isn't really anything interesting about them, and even with all of the meta finger pointing the film's characters do, I wasn't terribly surprised when the two killers revealed their identities.
As for the kills themselves, this is possibly the most gruesome of the Scream movies. The kills were brutal, and filmmakers didn't hold back on showing the brutality. The kills are what elevate a horror movie, at least to me, so I'm glad the filmmakers didn't hold back.
Spoilers aside, I want to say this may be the best January horror movie I have seen in years. It's a fun romp that feels fresh, even if some of the things they do to create that freshness feels monotonous at times. Most of the characters were typical slasher characters with little development, but they were killed in fun, gory ways that I didn't expect from a Scream movie, which elevated my experience.
Overall, I had a fun time watching the movie. My problems with the movie are pretty nitpicky, but that comes from me being a huge horror fan with big expectations. Currently, I don't know how to rank the franchise, but I do know that the original Scream still stands as the best. If you are a fan of the Scream franchise, I recommend seeing the newest entry.
I'm going to give the 5th Scream entry a 7.5/10.
© 2022 Benjamin Wollmuth