In 1996, five words changed the face of modern horror forever: “Do you like scary movies?”. Wes Craven’s Scream became the most influential horror of the decade and Ghostface the most iconic killer since Freddy Krueger.
Twenty five years on from the original Woodsboro massacre, a new group of teens find themselves stalked and slashed by Ghostface. While Dewey Riley lays out the rules to keep them alive, original survivor Sidney Prescott returns to discover the truth behind the latest murders.
Ready Or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett attempt to breathe new life into the franchise whose last instalment was in 2011. Ironic for a franchise dealing in death but as the movies tell us… the boogeyman never stays dead…
No matter what some on Film Twitter may say, the horror genre has ALWAYS held a mirror up to society. In the 30’s it was Universal’s Gothic horrors. The 50’s had the terror came from the skies, other planets or fuelled by nuclear radiation. In the 60’s, the real stories of serial killers like Ed Gein, brought the horror inside the home with Psycho. Leading to the popular slasher genre which gave us the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. In the 80’s – body horror that came from our fears of diseases like AIDS. The 90’s was technology with Ringu, Pulse, One Missed Call, etc.
Scream itself was one of the first horrors to utilise the mobile phone. Allowing the killer to be anywhere i.e. the calls could be coming from anywhere inside the house. It was also a horror where the villains had grown up watching horror movies so therefore were influenced by the tropes and cliches of the genre. Scream 2 looked at horror sequels and Scream 4 had a motive linked to recording the murders, the internet and crafting one’s story for consumption in the digital age.
So what is Scream (2022) exactly? As Randy’s niece and substitute Mindy explains, similar to 2018’s Halloween which used the exact title of the original, this is a “requel”. A reboot that is also a sequel because it is tied to the fate of the original’s “legacy” characters.
Think of this entry as The Ghostface Awakens!
The Scream movies have by their own admission worked best when they are “meta slasher whodunnits”. The Requel delivers on the slasher element and it also works as a “whodunnit”. Possibly the best since Knives Out. A film which gets a mention with its director alongside another one of his movies. One that was famously divisive…
Working James Vanderbilt & Guy Busick’s slick, smart screenplay, the directors do an effective job of dropping red herrings and continually wrong-footing the audience so there is still everything to play for as it enters the final act. As Doctor Strange would say, “Just Scooby Doo this shit”. As Randy was fond of screaming, “EVERYBODY’S A SUSPECT!”.
Some horrors pack out their cast with a bunch of attractive, one-dimensional characters. Simply to be served up as an all-you-can-kill buffet to the killer. Here there are several standouts. Jenny Ortega and Melissa Barrera are great as the estranged Carpenter sisters and Jack Quaid as the boyfriend gives off impressive 90s Dawson Creek Pacey vibes. Plus the returning old guard slip back into their roles like they were slipping on a Ghostface costume.
In a move that will make fans of the original feel old, the teens here have been brought up on the horror films that their parents watched as teens! Albeit whilst enjoying the classics we all know and love, the legacy of the in-universe Stab movies is still felt to this day and plays a major role in the film.
The genre has moved forward since the original and so have the touch points. On the list include “elevated horror” and the notion of toxic fandom. Neatly skewering each target with some excellent jokes and references.
Jokes are all well and good, however that is not the reason the audience buys a ticket. They want to be scared. They want to see teens being sliced and diced after saying “I’ll be right back” or running up the stairs instead of out the front door. So the 65 million dollar question is, does it deliver?
The answer is a resounding yes.
The cold open featuring the classic set up of a girl answering the phone when she really shouldn’t that gets a nice twist where she initially doesn’t answer as she doesn’t recognise the caller (something we all do in real life). She eventually does of course, otherwise there is no movie. Once she does it quickly turns deadly and sets the tone for the following bloodbath. There is also a twisted game of cat and mouse in a hospital made worse by the victim incapacitated in a wheelchair before it inevitably goes, literally, back to where it all began.
Each set piece is brutal in its set up and execution, whilst combining the playfulness demonstrated in Ready Or Not. Never forgetting to scare and entertain in equal measure.
Guaranteed to have audiences shrieking and jumping out of their seats, Scream is the most brutal, bloodiest and best film since the original.
Scream is exclusively in cinemas from January 14
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Stars: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Jenny Ortega
Runtime: 114 minutes