Movie review: ‘Scream’ (2022) is a more than worthwhile franchise resurrection

It has been over a decade since Cry 4 hit the theatres; it was legendary horror director Wes Craven’s last film before his death in 2015 and it largely felt like the last film in the franchise. Because horror franchises can never stay dead, as recently illustrated by Halloween and Saw restart, the Scream The franchise is back for a fifth installment with a mostly new cast and the surviving main cast from the returning original films.

Sure, the return of a classic, beloved horror franchise is expected at this point, but most horror franchises aren’t so intrinsically tied to their director. Scream is. This franchise is the baby of writer/executive producer Kevin Willaimson and Craven, so not having either of the two contribute is extremely concerning. Thankfully, new directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who, along with producer Chad Villela, form the filmmaking collective Radio Silence) put everything into this film and made it something that longtime fans and Craven him -even would be proud.

Cry 5 resumes in Woodsboro 11 years after the events of Cry 4, with a new batch of Ghostface murders sweeping through the small California town. Our main character is Sam (Melissa Barerra), who was brought back to Woodsboro after her sister, Tara (Jenna Ortega), fell victim to the masked killer. Seeking to track down the killer, protect his sister’s group of friends, and put an end to the violence, Sam enlists Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell).

The plot, in reality, is much more convoluted than that, but I choose to keep spoilers and plot reveals to a minimum in this review.

The entire cast of this movie is fantastic, there isn’t a single dim light bulb in the group. Usually in a movie with such an ensemble cast there’s a weak link or two, but that’s just not the case here. The new cast, consisting of Melissa Barerra, Jack Quaid, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison and Sonia Ben Ammar, are glorious in their respective roles. Quaid, Barrera and Ortega are the real stars of the new cast. Of course, the returning Arquette, Cox, and Campbell are also fantastic, even if their roles are smaller than you might expect.

It’s hard to argue what makes all of their respective performances so impactful and refreshing for this franchise without spoiling exactly what their characters represent for both the film and the genre tropes that Radio Silence plays on (and also just at times). general spoiler avoidance purposes).

the Scream the franchise has always been self-aware and meta, riffing on itself as well as the larger genre the films are a part of; this tradition does not change here. Some might even find the broader social commentary and, by extension, the real purpose of this film’s plot and mystery, a little heavy or face-to-face, but this franchise was never subtle. For me, the social commentary hit hard and felt right for what the horror genre and Hollywood as a whole is going through right now.

That being said, I wouldn’t want there to be more Scream after that. To be fair, I felt the same after seeing Cry 4, but I think more entries would make this series obsolete. Unless a bunch of new genre tropes that require riffing happen in another decade, that should be the end of it. The landscape of the genre will inevitably change again, just as it did after Cry 4from slashers and gore to the recent appearance of high horror, like Hereditary Where The Babdook (both of which are referenced by name in Cry 5), so expecting to see Ghostface is a pretty safe bet.

While this should be the end of the franchise, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, far from it. I loved it from start to finish. The third act, in particular, is so immensely satisfying and entertaining that it’s worth the price of admission on its own. Most of the satisfaction comes from the genuine surprise of the killer’s motives and identity. Scream movies live and die by their killers so the fact that this movie makes sure it has the best since Billy and Stu in the original bodes as good as any for the overall quality of the movie. I would also say it’s the second best movie in the franchise, right behind the original. Scream and in front Cry 4.

I wish I could know more about what makes this movie so fantastic and entertaining, what makes the cast so fun to watch, and what surprises the movie has to offer, but that would only belittle and diminish the experience of everyone reading this. So know this: Scream fan or not, this film is more than worthy of your time, money and support.

Meta-horror has become increasingly mainstream over the years; the genre becomes much more self-aware and aware of what needs to be changed in the future. Scream launched meta-horror into the mainstream 25 years ago and it seems fitting that it’s the one setting the bar for years to come.

@zachj7800

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