Scream movie review – The West News
Scream movie review
The Scream franchise, created in 1996 by writer Kevin Williamson and filmmaker Wes Craven, resurrected the slasher movie while sticking to its conventions. A new generation of horror nerds have devoured their meta-mischief and raked in $608 million worldwide. The new film, developed with Williamson’s consent and dedicated to the late Craven, draws on the original but indulges in self-referential brilliance to the point of undermining the true impact of fear.
“Oh my God, he’s producing a sequel!” exclaims one of the frightened young Californians, as the grisly murder rages in suburban Woodsboro. “You really need some new hardware,” says a venerable character with a new menacing voice on the other end of the phone line.
It’s likely some longtime fans will eagerly eat this playful new offering of non-stop murder and mayhem, culminating in a bloodbath at the same house where Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) shot the original killer behind the mask. Ghostface in the first finale. But meta-horror riffs are a thing of the past, diluted by countless fakes.
James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick’s screenplay tackles toxic fandom in a new way. “Someone has to defend the franchise!” one character screams while killing the others. “Hollywood has no ideas.” Whether you find it humorous or his humor boring is a matter of personal taste.
It’s impossible to care about the characters whose lives are in danger as they pontificate about the differences between old school and high art-horror. First target Tara (Jenny Ortega) begs not to be asked about the Stab franchise, which replaces the Scream movies here. Ask me about It Follows, Hereditary or The Witch! “What’s Wrong With Amplified Horror?” asks another teenager after three attacks, including one fatal. Jordan Peele fucks the rules!
A little goes a long way. Unlike the original Scream, where Jamie Kennedy’s Randy Meeks dominated the discourse on horror tropes, pretty much everyone here weighs in.
Seeing Campbell in good shape as Sidney, returning to Woodsboro to complete unfinished business, is a delight. David Arquette plays former sheriff Dewey Riley, who was fired from the force and is simmering in booze to soothe his aching heart over his breakup with Gale. Two beautiful reunion scenes use heartbreaking moments from Cox and Arquette’s on- and off-camera romance. A few more familiar faces (and performers) make brief appearances, including a pivotal character whose relationship with one of the newcomers drives the plot.
What a pity that the new faces leave so little impression. After Tara’s attack, her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) returns to town with her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid), who claims to be unfamiliar with Stab movies but quickly discovers Netflix and fan forums. Randy’s twin niece and nephew Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), Chad’s girlfriend Liv (Sonia Ammar) and Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) are among Tara’s close acquaintances in high school.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are handling the mounting fear well as the CW-esque cast begins dropping like flies. The problem is, they can’t stop talking about the narrative mechanics of slasher movies long enough for the tension to build. Ghostface’s unexpected first appearances are shocking. A violent, shrouded and masked monster lurking behind every door is teased by the producers with sharp musical cues and imagery. This makes Ghostface respawns feel more like a game than a life-and-death encounter.
We’re told the killer is still going back in time, so all paths point to Sidney and Sam, for reasons we won’t go into here. The clues as to the identity of the killer are peppered with clever humor and just enough deception to make it entertaining, and the growing series of murders doesn’t skimp on the gore. But there’s not a whole lot of innovation to represent the evolution of the franchise. While cellphones are ubiquitous, landlines still give the biggest spikes, and a family locator app adds just enough suspense to avoid knife-wielding.
“You know that time in horror movies where you want to yell at the characters to be good and get the hell out of here?” Sam asks his partner. That’s it, Richie! You might want to yell at them to stop talking about horror movies and start planning how to dodge the killer – multiple killers, to be consistent with previous episodes.
The Babadook, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Psycho are all referenced, including a shower scene. Of course, all of this metaplay is fun. But the satire wears off and interrupts the killing spree, making me wish I was watching one of the best movies tackled.
Release date: Friday January 14
To throw: Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sonia Ammar, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Screenwriters: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick, based on characters created by Kevin WilliamsonRated R, 1 hour 54 minutes