Scream (2022) Movie Review - Spoiler Free
New generation, new kills, same old Ghostface! The town of Woodsboro is terrorised a third time, as an old ghostly visage resurfaces in a new trend.
Genre: Horror / Mystery
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Cast: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, David Arquette, Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell & Skeet Ulrich.
Run Time: 114 min.
US Release: 14 January 2022
UK Release: 14 January 2022
German Release: 13 January 2022
With COVID having dominated the world these last two years, me having distanced myself from film news, and the industry having been in flux due to the pandemic, this release did come as an utter surprise to me. When I saw this fifth chapter among the January slate of releases, my first reaction was to roll my eyes as I was sure that this would bomb without Wes Craven. Happy to say, I couldn't have been more wrong! Scream 2022, refreshes the franchise while doing the original cast justice!
Twenty-five years after the first Woodsboro killing spree, teenager Tara is ambushed in her home, following a deadly game of horror movie trivia over the phone. With a new murderer taking on the mask of Ghostface, Tara’s five-year-older sister is forced to return to the town of Woodsboro, to prevent her sister from being skewered to death.
Further chapters of the franchise following the fourth feature, had been discussed frequently, though doubts started to rise due to the less-than-expected box office returns by Scre4m. With the death of Wes Craven in 2015, plus the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein that forced the closure of The Weinstein Company, the future looked bleak. In 2019, however, Spyglass Media Group attained the rights to the film series, immediately confirming a new instalment, hiring directing duo Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet of Read or Not fame.
Kevin Williamson did not return to pen the script but as an executive producer. Instead, James Vanderbilt, as well as Guy Busick were hired to write the screenplay. Containing a heartfelt scene that tributes the horror legend, the plot is written to respect the former events, while building a new saga. Elements like the meta self-awareness are maintained, as it pokes fun at the new ‘requel’ trend in Hollywood, yet includes all of what is criticised. The ‘whodunit’ element is well recreated, throwing the ball back and forth at different personas, confusing the audience but enticing them to investigate.
It is interesting how the new protagonists are tied to the legacy characters, without it feeling unrealistic or forced. Finally, the criticism about fan toxicity is cranked up to one hundred per cent, used as the killer's motivation. That said, the story does contain pacing issues along the second act, with some flaws in logic that seem to be implemented for plot convenience. Also, though it is tongue-in-cheek, it takes itself much more seriously than its predecessors.
Apart from the new main protagonist, not many of the surrounding cast are stand-outs, like in previous chapters. Thus, viewers don’t really care about any of them.
Melissa Barrera, who portrays Sam Carpenter, does give a strong performance of a young woman who has psychological issues, due to a secret she found out early in her life. Sam’s last name is a tribute to horror legend John Carpenter, she also shares many similarities with Sidney Prescott, who herself was targeted due to her mother’s past. Sam is the next final girl in the franchise, needing to accept her heritage to survive.
Jenna Ortega is cast as Sam’s sister Tara, who is targeted by the new murderer, to bring Sam out from hiding. Ortega does a good enough job, selling her persona’s rift with her sibling, who left her alone at an early age. Tara herself holds a deep-rooted grudge against her sister, which makes her a perfect suspect!
Out of the three legacy roles, it is that of David Arquette’s Dewey who has the most screen time! His story is well elaborated, feeling organic. It also is emotionally engaging, adding a surprise for audiences. That said, the return of Courtney Cox and Neve Campbell as Gale Weather and Sidney respectively, feels more like an afterthought, appearing only at the end.
Without spoiling anything, the way the killer(s) ends up being disposed of is incredibly satisfying! Especially when revealing how manipulative, disrespectful, as well as weak he/she is (or are). I was suspecting one or two, yet the full reveal of Ghostface did come as a surprise!
Cinematographically, the directing duo follows well in Craven’s footsteps, without ever trying to surpass the master of horror. Yes, they do bring an original spin to the way it looks, revitalising the visual component, however, it still feels very much like a Craven-directed picture. The darkness is used masterfully, feeling menacing, with the suburban lifestyle once again turned on its head.
Effect-wise, blood and gore are created using practical materials. Some segments do use CGI, to bring back a secret character in a special way. Unfortunately, while it is fun to watch, the VFXs are not always convincing.
Long-time composer Marco Beltrami was replaced by Bryan Tyler, who worked with the directing duo on Ready or Not. Keeping in touch with its franchise roots, the score is slightly modernised for a 2020 audience.
Verdict: Honestly, I was surprised by this fifth instalment, because I did not believe that without Craven it would be any good. Against all odds, this year’s Scream surpasses its last two predecessors in quality, becoming the best sequel since the first two flicks. This is not simply because it respects the events of previous plots, it has much to do with the fact that the directing duo Matt Betinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett don’t try to emulate Wes Craven but bring their directing style to the table. As such the whole premise feels revitalised, using a fresh perspective. I also respect how they handled the legacy characters while introducing a whole new main cast, who are linked blood wise to previous personas. The ‘whodunit’ element is engaging, making viewers actively join in the guessing game about who the murderer(s) might be. It does have a few pacing issues along the second act, plus some logical flaws. That said, in the end, Scream deserves a 7.5 out of 10.
Have you seen Scream 5? Which movie in the franchise is your favourite? Or is it possibly the anthology series? Let me know in the comments & thank you for reading!