Now on its fifth instalment, the Scream franchise is back with the latest release, Scream. The numerical sequel title has been dropped in favour of a back-to-basics legacy sequel, bringing back the original cast alongside a whole host of new faces ready to fall victim to Ghostface. After 5 films, we really should have run out of motives for another Ghostface copycat by now, however, Scream proves otherwise.
Ten years on from the last sequel Scream 4, and 25 years since the original Woodsboro murders, Ghostface re-emerges. In the opening scenes, he’s hunting Tara (Jenna Ortega), a young woman alone in her house who makes the mistake of answering an anonymous phone call from a man who just loves scary movies, especially Stab. Tara however prefers modern elevated horrors like The Babadook, and needless to say, Ghostface soon gets a little inventive and knife happy.
Cue Tara’s estranged older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) returning to Woodsboro, alongside boyfriend Ritchie (Jack Quaid), to try and uncover Ghostface’s identity whilst also revealing her own secret related to the town’s past. Not many are glad to see Sam return, including Tara’s friends Wes (Dylan Minnette), Mindy (Jasmine Savoy Brown) and Amber (Mikey Madison), and even Sheriff Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) warns Sam to get out to town.
However, when Sam herself gets attacked, she visits retired Dewey Riley (David Arquette) to ask for his help in stopping the killer. After warning Gale (Courteney Cox) and Sidney (Neve Campbell) to stay away from town, Dewey agrees to help and accompanies Sam and Ritchie to meet with Tara’s friend to determine who the killer is and their motives. But with the body count racking up, Sam, her friends and the original survivors are soon having to face the past and fight for their lives.
On the surface you’d be forgiven for thinking Scream is just another reboot, or “requel” as dubbed by the movie itself, as it follows very closely in the footsteps of the original film, right from the opening scenes to the final act. But this isn’t just a copycat film, it’s a homage, a sequel and has everything we loved from the first film and more. It’s incredibly brutal, the blood and gore have been ramped up without ever seeming excessive and some of the kills are absolutely ruthless and shocking, to say the least. The witty, intelligent dialogue is back too along with the meta, self-referential nature that is so incredibly clever. Despite this being a horror film, there’s a lot of fun to be had here too with the quips and mocking of other horrors. One scene especially that jumps to mind is when a character is going around their house opening doors and on numerous occasions the tense music ramps up to make you think there’ll be someone behind the door when in fact there’s nothing. It’s genius.
Part of what made this film so enjoyable is the return of the original (surviving) characters. Despite the fact that they’ve returned for every sequel so far, it still feels thrilling to see them back again and while their relationships have changed, there’s still that connection, like being back with old friends. The newer characters probably fare less well, as I found myself caring little about most of them – only those with the deeper connections to the town’s past were particularly interesting. Even Sam only really comes into her own in the final act.
The only real flaw I could find with this film is that it lingers a little too long and is too slow during the middle act. There’s too much focus on the serious side with character developments and backgrounds, and it drags a little. Had these scenes been cut down, it would’ve made for a much slicker and engaging film as for the most part I found myself glued to the screen. And while this isn’t necessarily a negative, I did clock a few things during the film that hinted towards who the killer/killers (no spoilers here!) were and I’m unsure as to how I feel about being right. But that said, the final act was a violent bloodbath and a great way to wrap up the film.
As the fifth film in the Scream franchise, Scream manages to be a resounding success. It brings back everything that made the original film great, even Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ gets a look in. It’s a funny, intelligent slasher with a brutal edge that really works and a glorious alternative to modern elevated horrors.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!