"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Scream (2022)

We interrupt this Sam Raimi series so I can have a semi-timely review of the new SCREAM movie.


I have some bad news. SCREAM – a teen horror movie that came out when I was older than a teen but I enjoyed it along with the younger people anyway – is 25 fucking years old! And you remember how it was a trilogy and we assumed that was it, but a little while back kind of out of the blue they made a way late part 4? Well, I’m sorry to say that even that happened eleven god damn years ago. How is that possible? It’s not. But it happened. We are old, my friends. Very, very old.

But some of us still like SCREAM and the i.p. gods or whoever decided that the time has come for another one in another era. Many things have changed since the last one. Obviously horror has changed, as it always does. But more importantly the director of the original four, Wes Craven, has passed away, and (in better news) the Weinstein Company has died and gone to Hell, so this is the first time the series has been continued by a new set of people. The rights were picked up by Spyglass Media Group, James Vanderbilt (THE RUNDOWN, ZODIAC) & Guy Busick (READY OR NOT, Castle Rock) wrote the script, and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett (the team behind READY OR NOT) directed it, in the Craven spirit but not trying to be a throwback or anything. (There’s even a joke about overlit ‘90s movies.) Original writer Kevin Williamson did give his blessing and sign on as executive producer, and has given many interviews (such as on Mick Garris’ podcast Post-Mortem) verifying that he really was involved and is excited about the movie.

Speaking on behalf of the earth, we were all pretty open to this team doing the movie, and then sort of annoyed when they changed the title from SCREAM 5 to just SCREAM. That’s because, as noted, we’re old. And suspicious. It only occurred to me the morning before going to the movie that of course it has to be called just SCREAM – this is the meta horror series, obviously it’s addressing what’s going on in horror movies now. Nobody’s putting numbers on their horror sequels these days. Having seen the movie now it’s even more clear that that’s the only correct title. The original characters from SCREAM (1996) join new characters related to the characters from SCREAM (1996), and realize they’re being manipulated into living a legacy sequel (they also use the term “requel”) to the original movie, which them means to the the original murders, and/or the movie STAB based on the original murders.

It opens, as it would have to, with an homage to the other SCREAM’s famous opening, where Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker is home alone in a big house at night and gets a call from a stranger who quizzes her on “scary movies” and then kills her when she gets an answer wrong. Jenna Ortega (THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN), who plays Tara, is only a couple years younger than Barrymore was, but looks much more like a high schooler to me, and I don’t know if this is the changing standards of horror casting or (again) me being old.

But this is definitely 2022, so Tara ignores her mom’s ringing landline at first, texting with her friend Amber (Mikey Madison, Better Things, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD) about it. When she gives in and answers she hears that familiar SCREAM voice (Roger L. Jackson, Powerpuff Girls), leading her to believe he’s her mom’s new boyfriend, and eventually asking her about her interest in horror movies.

After the attack we meet our new protagonist, Tara’s older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera, IN THE HEIGHTS), who moved away when she turned 18 and there are hard feelings about it. But she comes back to Woodsboro when she gets a call from Tara’s friend. Here’s the thing, though (EARLY SPOILER) – Tara survives that opening scene! She’s injured, but alive enough to be one of the main characters. I thought that was great, because the Drew Barrymore scene lifted a trick from PSYCHO to catch us off guard, then it became the format of the SCREAM movies going forward. The simple act of not killing a character tells us from the beginning that it’s not always gonna be beholden to the template of the old movies. (It mostly is, though.)

Sam’s boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid, THE HUNGER GAMES, LOGAN LUCKY) insists on coming along, an outsider who provides some exposition as he catches up on local history by watching the STAB movies on Netflix. They meet up with Tara’s group of friends (who she used to babysit), including Liv (Sonia Ben Ammar), Wes (Dylan Minnette, DON’T BREATHE) and the twins, Chad (Mason Gooding, BOOKSMART) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown, LAGGIES). They realize the attacks seem to be happening to people connected to the original killings. That’s a problem for the twins, who are niece and nephew of original slasher rule explainer, bad opinion haver and part 2 victim Randy Meeks. And Wes worries about his mom, Sheriff Judy (Marley Shelton, WARRIORS OF VIRTUE, GRINDHOUSE) since she’s a character in one of the STAB movies (she introduced as Deputy Judy in SCREAM 4). Don’t worry, Mindy says. “Nobody cares about the inferior sequels.”

Good joke, but not true. A quick Google search will find you a lifetime supply of essays arguing that either SCREAM 2, 3 or 4 was unfairly maligned and is actually the best SCREAM movie. SCREAM (2022) knows this and does acknowledge the sequels, but its primary concern is the characters who have been there since the beginning. Sam knows to get help from somebody who’s been through this before.

SCREAM (1996) differed from the specific subgenre it was paying homage to after it became a series. The other whodunit slashers that got sequels did it by sticking with a permanent killer (FRIDAY THE 13TH, SLEEPAWAY CAMP) or being more of an anthology (PROM NIGHT). The SCREAM series is unique in that the heroes continue and it’s the killers that are disposable. And though we all made fun of the need for pretty faces from TV in the Kevin Williamson/Dimension era of horror, I think the casting and the attempt to focus more on characterization did contribute to raising the standards of acting in this type of movie, which had not always been up to Jamie Lee Curtis’s level.

Still, I was surprised to get a little emotional seeing these characters again. They track down Dewey (professional wrestler David Arquette), still in Woodsboro, now retired from law enforcement and living alone in a trailer. He calls up Sidney (Neve Campbell, WILD THINGS) but only texts his ex Gale (Courteney Cox, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, COCOON: THE RETURN), because they haven’t spoken in years and he clearly regrets whatever happened between them. He tells them it’s happening again, and to please not come back. Take a guess how long they listen to that advice.

Some of the best stuff in the movie is just seeing them reconnect and show their care for each other, and the bond they have from going through what we know they’ve gone through together. (That we know Arquette and Cox got married during the series and have since divorced but are now willing to work together is touching in its own way.)

I don’t think Sidney really has an arc in this movie, which might bother some people. But I found it kind of comforting that after so much tragedy in Woodsboro (and at college) she seems to have found a happy life somewhere else with a family and a leather jacket and whatever job she does. And she feels a responsibility to make sure they are not endangered (the family, at least – she brings the leather jacket right into the belly of the beast) and also to pass on what she’s learned to the next generation of hopeful slasher survivors. The movie is not about her, but she’s more than a cameo. Kind of a guest star. (Her photo credit at the end is “and NEVE CAMPBELL” but I wish it had a “as Sidney Fucking Prescott,” as she refers to herself in the movie)

Dewey really gets more of a role and (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) that may be partially because he gets Han Solo-d. We all worried that they would pull some HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION bullshit and kill off Sidney or another main character in the opening, and luckily they didn’t. Dewey of course tries to stay out of it, but ends up going with the kids and explaining his version of “the rules,” which are not rules to surviving a horror movie, but rules to surviving these killings that happen in Woodsboro, which of course are rules to surviving a horror movie. He still has some humor, but he’s mostly playing the gravitas the character has earned by surviving 9 killers or however many it is now.

You may or may not be aware that in SCREAM 2 a piece of Hans Zimmer’s score for BROKEN ARROW is used as Dewey’s theme. I’ve always loved that, but have found that many people are bothered by it, including composer Marco Beltrami. According to the L.A.Times at the time, “the producers” insisted on putting it on the temp score as sort of an Ennio Morricone-esque western theme. Beltrami says he made his own version that Craven loved, and was disappointed to see at the premiere that the repurposed Zimmer somehow stayed in the final cut.

That’s weird, but he says his version was “a little more tongue-in-cheek,” which sounds entirely wrong to me. The beauty of the theme is that it’s not tongue-in-cheek. It treats Dewey as cool, like we know he is inside, despite sometimes being a comic relief character. It’s not even a juxtaposition, it’s more like sticking up for this underdog character. In SCREAM (2022), “Dewey’s Theme” from BROKEN ARROW is back, and he’s a more serious character now, as if he’s grown into it. (No word if score composer Brian Tyler (SIMON SEZ) tried to stop them.

I appreciate that Sam doesn’t seem very Sidney-like. Williamson played with the idea of the “Final Girl” as originally explained in Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women and Chainsaws. One of the features was that she would often be the “good” girl in her friend group, which Williamson exaggerated into a supposed rule that only virgins survive in horror movies. Sam instead is a “bad” girl, or at least she was – after her father left she started using drugs and getting into trouble, Sheriff Judy doesn’t trust her because of their history, she also has hallucinations when she doesn’t take her pills, etc. In ELM STREET terms she’s not Nancy, she’s Rod.

The other part of that is the biggest SPOILER I can give you, but let’s dig in. Sam reveals that the real reason she acted out so much, and the reason she’s a target for the killer, is the secret she discovered that (long story) her real father was Billy Loomis.

So the biggest, weirdest SPOILER I was glad I didn’t know about but I’m about to SPOILER it so turn back now, is that Skeet Ulrich is actually in this movie as Billy, appearing to her in visions! I don’t know what de-aging tricks they did, but it’s 51 year old Ulrich playing a teenager again. It’s ridiculous, and I respect that about it. Though in some ways I think SCREAM (2022) doesn’t diverge enough from the template to be memorable on its own, it is definitely crazy that at the end our heroine is encouraged to stab the shit out of the killer by a vision of the first movie’s killer, who then looks on with pride like a Star Wars force ghost. This also seems somewhat of a piece with READY OR NOT, where the heroine beats some of her evil in-laws to death and ends the movie smoking a cigarette while covered in their blood. The bad girl good guy.


I’ve been avoiding mentioning that Sam’s last name is Carpenter. Man, naming horror characters after the top five horror directors was already old hat when SCREAM came out. But I will give them credit for giving her a name that can be considered masculine, like Sidney, another detail I believe is an homage to Men, Women and Chainsaws.

Obviously being the first SCREAM movie in 11 years means it’s gonna acknowledge current horror trends. Tara uses the term “elevated horror.” There’s mention of “toxic fans” and people who think social messages are being forced into their horror, though not nearly negative enough considering there are already dipshits making videos on Youtube calling this not even social messagey at all movie “woke trash,” presumably because it has some non-white people in it.

This stuff is all so obviously relevant that it seems like they have to mention it, and therefore it feels a little underwhelming when they do. What I think is more interesting is the differences we can see between horror in 1996 and 2022 just by contrasting the two SCREAMs.

In 1996, Casey “likes scary movies” – she’s about to watch one, and says she likes HALLOWEEN and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Sidney pointedly does not like horror movies, and Tatum finds them “insulting.” Randy is the big horror fan, so he was well liked by the horror fans watching, but it’s definitely supposed to be comical (and possibly suspicious) that he gets so worked up analyzing them. It seemed like a big deal to have a character who cared about this stuff as a main character in a mainstream movie.

But horror has a different place in society now. Tara is a horror fan and we’re told her mom (who we never see) is also. Two generations! And there’s a recognition that there are different types of horror movies to be into – Tara’s favorite is THE BABADOOK, and she gives an academic explanation of why. She’s only vaguely familiar with STAB not only because it’s old but because she’s more into stuff like IT FOLLOWS and HEREDITARY.

Mindy is the one who theorizes that the killer is making a requel or legacy sequel, and explains what she means by it. Yes she’s related to Randy and yes, they have a shrine to the uncle they never knew and are implied to be an entire family of horror loving people. But the point is that all of the friends, who do not as far as we see identify as lifetime Fangoria subscribers or anything, get exactly what she’s talking about. They don’t have to be told that Jamie Lee Curtis came back for a new HALLOWEEN called HALLOWEEN. Horror is not a niche thing now, it’s mainstream. In their world, I assume, that’s partly because of the success of STAB.

Consider also that in 1996 the cast of SCREAM went on talk shows calling it a “thriller” so as not to limit the audience. In 2022 SCREAM was sure to get on the cover of Fangoria and release a new line of t-shirts from Cavity Colors. That’s the audience they want now.

Another way things have changed is that Craven had to fight with the MPAA and finally speed up and edit a shot of Casey’s intestines in order to avoid an NC-17 rating. This one has three or four acts of violence that are far more graphic and disturbing than that, and yet it wouldn’t rank on the high end of goriness today. I’m happy about that. We’ve come a long way, baby.


SCREAM (1996) is a horror classic and SCREAM (2022) is a movie I enjoyed. It could never be as good as the original, and never will be, but ask me years down the line when it’s old and I’ve revisited them all and I can figure out if it’s the best of the sequels. I think it might be – it seems less full of shit about movies, and about young people, and it’s more exciting to see the progression of the characters all grown up and weathered than to just see them a couple years later with different hair and new friends.

But the problem with SCREAM (2022) is the problem with any SCREAM (1996) sequel: it’s not the first time. Every added chapter makes the larger story less real, no variation on the premise seems as new as when we first experienced that original premise. SCREAM 2 said “what if we apply that to sequels?,” SCREAM 3 said “I guess we just pretend horror trilogies are a thing” and then SCREAM 4 mostly tried to update for a new generation of teens raised on social media, with results some say were prescient though they seemed somewhat laughable at the time.

Now SCREAM (2022) updates the premise for the era of David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. And the smart thing about that is that because the SCREAM series was so much more about checking in on the good guy characters it really is exciting to see them together again at this late date and very different stage in their lives. I think there’s also some accuracy in the updated killer motive. They’re not psychos made more creative by horror movies, they’re psychos who feel entitled to dictate what happens in their favorite horror franchise. Billy and Stu for the post Ain’t It Cool/movies-raped-my-childhood generation of armchair studio executives.

When Williamson introduced the movie-within-the-movie STAB (based on the events of SCREAM) in SCREAM 2, it was a funny joke. I think it was also supposed to be some kind of satire about media exploiting violence (a popular target in the ‘90s), which I’ve always felt was off target since there is nothing in horror that’s anything like STAB.

But all these years and sequels later the STAB movies serve a different purpose in the story – Tara has seen STAB once and sort of vaguely remembers it because that’s what plenty of horror fans her age could say about SCREAM. And the voice on the phone can quiz her about the SCREAM movies by quizzing her about the STAB movies. And now when they talk about “the rules” they’re describing how this specific movie series has always worked instead of making broad and sometimes inaccurate generalizations about the entire slasher genre or sequels or whatever their target is.

So other than maybe there could’ve been some more tension in some of the stalking, I’d say this is about as good of a SCREAM 5 as possible unless someone can come up with some brilliantly surprising reinvention of the premise that we don’t see coming… and the thing is, if they did that, I’m positive it would not be as well received. Within the reality of the movie, STAB 8 was a widely hated movie that brought the series in a new direction. Though directed by Rian Johnson, the clip of a buff Ghostface with gold mask and blowtorch makes me think we’re supposed to believe it really is some dumb bullshit, and if I’m not mistaken all of the characters including non-killers seem to agree it sucks.

I wish at least one of them stood up for it. Even if they were a weirdo for liking it. I would feel seen and consider this a fuller portrait of the horror community. ‘Cause I bet you money STAB 8 is better than people say, if not one of the best of the series. It’s probly not as solid as SCREAM (2022) but it seems to take bigger swings, and we need more of that.

 

tune in tomorrow for BRUCE CAMPBELL VS. ARMY OF DARKNESS

This entry was posted on Monday, January 17th, 2022 at 7:38 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

22 Responses to “Scream (2022)”

  1. I thought SCREAM 4 was awful and I’m still saddened that it is Wes Craven’s last movie. This wasn’t perfect by any means and actually shared a lot of the same themes with 4 but it was better executed. I don’t think it’s the best of the SCREAM sequels but it’s easily the 3rd best in the series. I’ve never hated the 3rd one. I generally watch these movies once and never really revisit them. The biggest sin 3 committed was that while serviceable it was also very forgettable. I still remember things from the first 2 quite vividly despite being detached from them for so many years now. I cannot recall a thing from 3 except the twist and that it was the one with the random Jay and Silent Bob cameo. I’m going to get into SPOILERS but if you have yet to see it and enjoyed the others there’s no reason to not give it a chance. If anything I think it’s gonna be on Paramount+ in about 40 days or so so if you got a password hook up there’s an option.

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    OK so I never saw READY OR NOT but I did like the directing in this. It definitely was more on par with the first one in that regard. I read somewhere these guys were influenced by Craven to get into directing in the first place. I don’t know if that was just PR talk but I did notice it with some of the framing in certain shots. The house climax being most obvious since certain shots are lifted directly from the original. So it was cool that his dna was in there somewhere.

    I guessed the killers by the time of the first hospital attack. There were no real red herrings in this for me. It didn’t hinder the movie even though part of the gun is the guessing game in these things. Junior Quaid’s “I love you” sounded like he had a gun pointed at his head. I was like “ah ok there’s our guy”. And manson girl pretty much played it unhinged all of her screen time. No real subtlety it’s like “she lives in Stu’s house so let’s make her Stu”. It was pretty transparent.

    One thing I really appreciated though was the astuteness of these characters. Dewey being on the money with the killer’s identity, the twin guy not wanting to be alone because anyone at that party could be the killer, Gale and Sidney seeing through the trap. They certainly were not like the idiots in the last HALLOWEEN entry. That was refreshing to see in the next big slasher sequel after that one. Force Ghost Billy made me laugh out loud when he first showed up. What a bonkers twist. I don’t consider him a hallucination but an actual Ghost due to his big save at the end there but then again maybe subconsciously his daughter knew that knife was always there. I guess it is pretty ambiguous after all.

    I also appreciated that FINALLY one of these killers gets brutally stabbed to death. SCREAM 3 tried it but it was not with the same energy that the killers give out. This one went there and it was a refreshing way to end it. Also even though I really really think they should just stop here I know they won’t. I think it could be interesting if this first kill kinda triggered the main character’s killer instinct. Making her the killer in the next one would probably be too much like part 4 but what if she is some Dexter like anti-hero killing really bad people with a Ghostface costume. What if this puts her into conflict with another independent Ghostface Killer. A killer versus killer scenario. I don’t know but I do know this one could’ve been way worse and I’m just glad it didn’t end up being another SCREAM 4.

  2. 5CREAM forever!

    Well, I didn’t like this and my review is out there. But that makes 3 out of 5 Screams I didn’t like upon first viewing. Scream 2 and 4 grew on me in time and context (oddly 3 was the sequel I liked right off the bat.) So maybe after a few more year of online discourse and requels I’ll realize 5CREAM was prescient (that happened with 4) but I also liked this far less than even my original disappointments in 2 and 4.

    The kill scenes were actually great and effective. I just found the commentary toothless and I need a Scream movie to have good commentary. Just mentioning the buzzwords isn’t a commentary on them, but that may be because elevated horror and such are still too new. 1996 already had decades of established slasher movies.

  3. I want to like this one, but I’m not sure if the strengths of the directing overcome the major weaknesses of the script.

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    -For anyone who complained about the incompetence of Survivalist Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween H40, Sydney makes her look like John Wick. She literally goes through a house firing at random through closed doors.

    -Force Ghost Billy Loomis is definitely the Jason Worm/Dream Demons point of this franchise. Think about it. Billy Loomis’s bastard daughter has inherited his serial killer genes. That’s dumb. That belongs in one of the Stab movies, not a Scream movie. What’s worse, did anyone get the impression from Scream 1.0 that Billy was clinically psychotic? I thought he was just a douchebag who wanted to kill people, not someone who legitimately heard voices. But I guess we needed to have his illegitimate daughter inherit his serial killer superpower, but use it to fight evil. If that’s not the stupidest idea you’ve heard today…

    -The jock surviving that kill scene was total bullshit. It was halfway bullshit that Mindy survived, but both twins making it to the closing credits? Fuck off.

    -The sister going from barely being able to move in a wheelchair to beating someone up with a crutch in 24 hours (or less)… come on. They even have the bad guy point out how ridiculous that is as if to say “Oh, if you criticize this, you’re agreeing with the serial killer and being a toxic fan!”

    -Everyone remembers that the original movie was a PARODY of the idea that horror fans could be influenced by slasher movies to go on killing sprees, right? The whole joke was that the idea was just as outlandish as your unkillable zombie mass murderers like Jason and the Shape. The way they play the crazed fans here–it comes off to me like they felt they were really saying something, not doing a piss-take. In effect, they were overriding the rest of the series’s satire to say “yes, horror fans really can be driven crazy by slasher movies, these toxic fans are a real issue.” Which felt like a betrayal. Like listening to heavy metal with your long-haired best friend at sixteen years old, then seeing him as a forty-five-year old, balding with a spare tire, talking about how violent video games really do make kids shoot up their school. You changed, man. You changed.

  4. Kaplan, I thought about the message of the first movie too. Considering some 5CREAM fans sent death threats to negative critics (not me this time) shows they really did not get the original movie in the first place. It’s explicitly about how movies don’t turn people into killers.

  5. I thought it was a neat touch that Billy LOOMIS’s illegitimate daughter has the surname CARPENTER. Because a) Halloween and b) both are exactly the same level of stupid/distracting hey-did-you-catch-the-reference type of character name that was in vogue for horror comedies pre-2000s (see also: “Night of the Creeps”). This was definitely the second best sequel. Personally I rank the first two SCREAM movies on almost equal level. The first is a little more chocolate and the second is a little more bit peanut butter, but they both taste fucking great. This one, as Vern points out, is limited in how good it can be because it’s so much about the previous ones. But it’s better than 4, and 3 is one of the worst movies ever made because Ehren Kruger is terrible.

  6. I must defend the honor of Cindy (I’m using the American spelling of honor out of respect) who based on all available evidence was a true blue horror fan. It is Ghostface/the caller who asks if NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is about “the guy with knives for fingers”, not her, and Cindy even has an opinion on the sequels; not the kind of opinion we tend to have here, but who knows if she’d have lived maybe she’d have thought a bit more about it over the years and posted her thoughts about them in the relevant threads here. Anyway, RIP to a real one.

    SCRE4M also had some notable non-Randy true blue horror fans in it, most notably Kirby who (SPOILERS henceforth for between 2 and 5 SCREAM films throughout the rest of this thread, including NEW SCREAM FILM SPOILERS) is revealed in a blink and miss it Easter egg in this film to have survived. Maybe if she’s back in S6REAM it will summon ThomasCrown442.

    Anyway, I liked this quite a bit. It might be the best of the sequels; I’m weird about SCRE4M, which I’ve seen three times in my life including twice in the past year, I’m sort of aware a lot it is not very good and on at least one of my viewings it mostly just kind of bored me, but there’s a core there and a third act I respond to really strongly. I guess it is the closet any of the films come to “my generation’s” SCREAM (I’m a couple of years older than the actors playing “teens” in the film). That said I don’t know if I’d call it prophetic, the themes seemed very “of the time” at the time. Facebook and YouTube had been big for a few years, Twitter was on the ascendance, we’d just come out of the decade of the Hiltons and THE HILLS and the Kardashians, it didn’t take Nostradamus (or Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson for that matter) to see where things were heading. I guess it wasn’t wrong though.

    As for this film, while it’s a bit uninspiring that the theme was taken from something that was probably the subject of two thinkpieces published while I was in the theatre (although can any real world theme not be in the 2020s?), I don’t think it’s saying “films/(ugh) “toxic fanbases” are creating killers. When one of the killers tries to defend themselves by saying they were “radicalised” and “just looking for somewhere to belong” isn’t it essentially saying much as “movies don’t make psychos, movies make psychos more creative” that fanbases don’t make psychos, psychos make fanbases more psychotic?

    I’m also not sure if all the characters in this film hated STAB 8. The girl who talks about how poorly it was received doesn’t necessarily agree with the criticisms, just explains the rationale. Was SCREAM: THE SERIES our world’s STAB 8?

    I didn’t mind Sydney not having any real arc, but in retrospect it’s notable how low-impact her screentime is compared to Dewey and Gale (and even Judy). They probably only had Campbell for a set amount of time though, as with 3 and 4. I get the impression she has a bit of a love-hate relationship with the series.

    Not necessarily a complaint, but it was somewhat evident that this was (with inflation etc.) the lowest budgeted film in the series. That extends to the de-aging on Skeet Ulrich, which to memory is the worst I’ve seen yet. Couldn’t they just have had him wear stupid zombie make-up or something? Still worth it IMO for that perverse ending. Interesting that both this and SCREAM 4 feel like pretty open and shut sequels (Williamson says that 4 was originally supposed to end with Roberts surviving to set up 5, but, well, none of that happened). I’m not sure where the set-up for a S6REAM is here, unless Martínez goes full Loomis, which I think a lot of new converts would probably hate, but who knows?

    Random thoughts on the other SCREAM Sequels:
    – For sometime I thought SCREAM 2 might be the best of the series. but I think I just really liked the meta-sequel stuff. It introduces too many not-good characters to allow a not-very-engaging mystery to develop (although one of the reveals is quite good). And Jerry O’Connell performing his TOP GUN “tribute” by singing a completely unrealated song is one of the worst scenes in film history. Some killer setpieces though.

    I agree that STAB seems to be commenting on a phenomenon in horror films that didn’t exist, but maybe it was just taking a logical extension from those true crime TV movies that cropped up in the 90s at an alarming rate?

    – SCREAM 3 seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance, partly on the basis that people like to think Wes was subtweeting Harvey Weinstein. It’s a nice thought, but I don’t really buy it. The “casting couch” stuff seems to be there as then-standard wry humour, not really black comedy and certainly not done with any great anger (although I guess that’s where the sub part of subtweeting may come in). The Maureen Prescott backstory is played to be a little more disturbing, but there’s a sense that was a dark secret from an earlier, more debauched time; if anything the film seems to be drawing parallels to Polanski rather than Weinstein.

    I will say that as weak horror sequels go, SCREAM 3 is very on message and on brand with the earlier films. Some said while an average film, if that, it was a pretty good trilogy capper, and I don’t disagree. But there are very off-message horror sequels that are a lot more interesting and entertaining than SCREAM 3.

    – Is it me or does SCREAM 4 imply Sidney’s book is pretty silly and vapid, and maybe not even entirely sincere in its conception? That was always what I got from it, but maybe I’m bringing my own such biases to that kind of literature into play.

  7. Thank you Pacman, you are of course right about Casey, and I have corrected it. I should have addressed SCREAM 4 to have a fuller picture of the series’ view of horror fandom, but I have not seen it since opening day.

  8. You’re welcome and thank you #ForCasey

  9. PacMan, Scream 2 is a strong film and one could definitely make a case for it being the best in the series. I think the fact that it was even in the same ballpark of quality as the first is the main reason the franchise has as much goodwill as it does among fans, even though the majority of sequels are inferior (much like the ALIEN or TERMINATOR series, or ELM STREET with part 3). It gets so many things right: the move from high school to college gives new locations (like the film building and the theater) that create the feeling of a fresh new canvas, Sydney gets a great arc (I love that she enjoys acting), the cast is stacked (SMG! Olyphant! Schreiber! Even Pacey is in it!), there are a lot of great kills (pole through head), and the theater sequence where Ghostface is among the people with robes & masks is Wes Craven at his most effortlessly effective. But the best thing about it is David Arquette’s limping, broken Dewey. In the first movie he’s a clown with a heart of gold, but in the second we see just how much of a hero he is. He came because he’s worried about Syd, who he thinks of as a surrogate little sister — heartbreaking — and he stays the course even though his body is all fucked up and he feels like a fool around Gale Wethers. Arquette adds layers of pathos while still playing the comedic beats and it really gives the movie heart.

    I don’t even mind the scene where Jerry O’Connell sings. As an adult, yeah, it’s easy to dismiss it as terrible (in much the same way the Heath Ledger singing scene in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU is terrible), but the movie wasn’t made for adults. It was made for teenagers in 1997, and for that audience I think it’s a perfectly judged moment: the boring jock guy pushes outside his comfort zone to demonstrate his love. His terribleness at singing is incidental to him risking public humiliation (and incurring the wrath of his fraternity bros) to stand up for what he believes in.

  10. I’ve thought about it and you’re right. When I was ambiguously 19-23 years old like Derek in SCREAM 2 I was doing all kinds of ridiculous extrovert things, and that was without the confidence boosts of having a couple of seasons of SLIDERS under my belt. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it! I mean why, *why* perform a TOP GUN homage by singing a completely different song?!?

  11. Kaplan – To be fair kid sister was also hopped up.on a combination of feel good drugs and adrenaline by that point. I’ve seen more unbelievable things in real life.

    What actually grinded my gears was the clumsiness of Dewey’s death scene. I think they could’ve gone about it a different way. I’m no screenwriter but having the guy check for his cellphone when he was about to handle business seemed real bogus.

    They were so into subverting expectations and succeeded IMO with the opening victim surviving (made up for 4 which has the worst opening in franchise history) they could’ve cut (no pun) deeper with it when other opportunities arrived.

    It would’ve been kind of dope if Dewey did get the headshot and then it’s revealed that it was indeed the most obvious suspect in the whole thing (Emotionless Ex-Girlfriend) only for another Ghostface to pop up out of nowhere and gut catch Dewey by surprise. Giving us a 3rd killer in one of these things finally and raising the stakes a bit. Keeping the other 2 killers on their toes a bit more and forcing them to better cover the tracks. Or hell maybe the 3rd killer is on their own and used the opportunity to act on their impulse creating dueling agendas among competing Ghostfaces which could also.lesd to killer versus killer.

    I don’t know. Like I said I’m no screenwriter. I’m just still thankful that this ended up being the first since SCREAM 2 that I thoroughly enjoyed and not the bigger disaster that it had potential to be. It’s far from perfect but it really could’ve been so much worse.

  12. Really enjoyed this. Thought it was fresh and fun enough a take on it.

    “Within the reality of the movie, STAB 8 was a widely hated movie that brought the series in a new direction. Though directed by Rian Johnson, the clip of a buff Ghostface with gold mask and blowtorch makes me think we’re supposed to believe it really is some dumb bullshit, and if I’m not mistaken all of the characters including non-killers seem to agree it sucks.”
    Yeah, I was confused by all that. Given it’s the motivation of the killers, it seems like possibly they’re meant to have bad taste, or are at least being hyperreactive to it, but then the flamethrower thing does look bad, but I’m also trying to think what aspect of THE LAST JEDI does that correspond to?

    SPOILER

    SPOILER

    SPOILER

    -with all the talk in the movie about the killer being part of Sam’s social circle and the rules of a requel being that things go back to the beginning, and with her big revelation, did anyone else actually think her conveniently unseen (is there a character in the original movie she could be?) and out of town mother was going to be a killer? Like that would account for the sister surviving, and they could have worked in that she was a secret accomplice of Billy’s and maybe her motivation was she wanted to make Sam become a killer too by driving her to kill the other Ghostface.

    -I liked that Gale and Sidney instantly knew Amber was full of shit the first time they met her. I disagree with the earlier comment Sid has shit survival skills because of that and the fact she does injure one of the killers with her shoot first approach

    -If I had a pound for every movie where Mikey Madison tried to kill the main characters, only to get beat up, set on fire and die…I’d have two pounds. But it’s weird that’s it’s happened twice.

    -How’s Gale’s book about Dewey going to work without mentioning the 5 most interesting incidents that ever happened in his life, including the events of his death?

  13. Re-watched the series prior to seeing this one and I’m glad I did. I was surprised at how consistently enjoyable they were, even the maligned SCREAM 3.

    – Very funny that they brought back Heather Matarazzo. Was not expecting that.

    – I liked the joke about Gale Weathers bangs in SCREAM 3. They really were terrible.

    – I guess this means that Sheriff Judy Hicks had a small child and (maybe?) partner at home throughout the events of SCREAM 4? Good to see she’s still making those lemon squares after Gale said they tasted like ass.

    Stu: Ha, I watched this movie on Saturday afternoon and then re-watched ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD later that evening, completely forgetting she was in that movie too. Great double feature. Hopefully the upcoming final season of BETTER THINGS will end with Pamela Adlon finally snapping due to the behaviour of her asshole kids, then shooting/stabbing Mikey Madison and setting her on fire.

  14. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I wondered about the mom too. It is kind of weird that she and her husband must’ve been classmates of the characters we know from SCREAM but that we never knew existed before. If there’s a sequel they should track down someone who was an extra in the original to play the mom so we can have our minds blown when we rewatch it. Anyway, I’m glad the whole experience with Billy didn’t put her off horror movies.

  15. Just saw this and it was great. At first I was unimpressed with the boring new cast, but then they grew on me. The directors did a good job of somewhat aping the style of Wes Craven with lots of stedicam shots and roving camera during suspense scenes…speaking of, the suspense scenes were great and sustained. Loved the one where the guy got out of the shower and they just kept MILKING it. Sad to see some of the original cast go but I guess they needed to show they were playing for real. Wish they broke the mold of the two killer thing, wanted to see either one or more…but unlike parts 2 and 3, you can really see how the killer was doing shit when you think about it. Take the opening video, pre-recorded with willing participant, that was great. Parts 2 and 3 could have been anyone, but this time it worked.

    Broddie makes a good point and I was hoping the same…that Dewey was going to actually kill one of them in the middle of the movie. What a great twist that would have been! And yeah, another one could have come right out and killed him and it would have made more sense to get the drop on him that way. Would have been cool to go to the Ghostface POVS then, where they’re both talking to each other in the Roger Jackson voice about how they need to watch the fuck out, this isn’t going as planned.

    I kept reading on horror boards how some people hated the Kirby character from 4 and kept saying for certain that she’s dead…which is a stupid thing to do with a fictional series, which has now confirmed she’s alive so maybe she’ll be back for future sequels.

  16. SPOILERS, PROBABLY

    What to say about this one? It’s fine. Gets the job done. I liked Jenna Ortega, who was also great in X. I think David Arquette was the strongest and highlight of the o.g. cast. The kills were pretty nasty if not particularly creative: a lot of high quality head/face/neck-stabbing. The last 10 minutes are very solid, and that last kill is a doozy. Good moxie. Both of the last two films have finished stong, come to think of it.

    I found the Skeet Ulrich cgi de-aging whateVer that was too be quite iffy and unconvincing. I’m a stickler about that shit, and this was no beuno dead-eyed Grand Moff Billy uncanny valley ranch dressing right there. Though I did like the idea and that final kill, but just the cgi execution really flipped it from cool concept to too-bad-so-sad for me. I also found Courtney Cox’s face distracting, which I know sounds mean, but I truly did, heaven help me.

    Overall, rate this a B- and certainly a bargain at the $0 I spent on a Paramount+ trial that I’ve immediately cancelled.

    p.s. Isn’t it also an inside joke that Sam’s dad’s name is Loomis, which makes her Sam Loomis?

  17. MORE SPOILERS PROBABLY

    Also, I know they’re already bringing Courtney Cox back for sure, but I agree with Vern that the Sidney has no arc or really even much screen time or much to do in this one. And Jenna Ortega and her sister are strong enough that I think it’s time to just hand-off the franchise and get all the o.g.’s out of there. Sidney seems like she has a good life going, so, they just need to leter her jog with that stroller off into the sunset and live her life, and let the youngbloods take this one.

  18. SPOILERS FOR THAT MOVIE THAT’S NOW ON PARAMOUNT+ OR PEACOCK OR SOMETHING

    Yeah, I’m not sure what they’re going to do for the sequel (that of course they’re already working on; I thought these were going to be ‘once a cycle’ or whatever movies?). We’ve kinda established these things as the continuing adventures of a bunch of copycat killers targeting Syd, Gale, and Dewey for additional murdering, so I’m not sure how they’re going to explain the fixation suddenly being on the Billy Sisters. Be a little like if they made a Die Hard movie that was suddenly about a member of Clan Gruber going after Samuel L. Jackson. Maybe they’ll say “Someone has taken their love of spin-offs one step too far” and we can all be witty on Twitter about how that Scream TV show was already too far.

  19. SPOILERS, PROBABLY

    As thin as the premises became after SCREAM 2, I can’t imagine it’d be too hard to gin up some perfunctory “sure, whatever” excuse to have someone stalking them. The bar is so low. As Vern mentions above, ever since around 3, the sequels have felt more and more derivative and unmemorable in their premises. With SCREAM 2, you’ve got the copycat / let’s-make-a-sequel hook, which is clever enough. But since then, the premises have seemed more and more forgettable and bland, and it’s just hard to keep it fresh. I find the whole “it’s a remaquel” / “and, toxic fandom, you guys” thing to be kind of a yawn, but it gets the job done as well as anything else. Likewise, someone deciding to go after the “new final girls” seems no less “sure, whatever” than 3,4, or this. I think Sidney should get to live, and if she shows up in this, it should be a glorified cameo (one of the survivors of this FaceTime’s her for some quick advice).

    I will say, I was struck by the fact that this film is solid and competent but honestly kind of a step down from READY OR NOT, which I did not think was great. There’s nothing about it I find particularly memorable or original, just some good kills, but even those are not super diverse or imaginative (guess that’s why they call it STAB). I think it helps that the best kills are saved for last, which creates a more positive immediate impression of the film than the rest of it earns.

    What I do like is that the newer final girls are genuinely pretty engaging, and I would want to watch them getting on with life together, whereas I’m really not interested in them pivoting back to Sidney. Fortunately, I don’t think they’ll do that, though I would not be shocked if they did something to set it up so Sidney now lives nearby this film’s final girls.

  20. I just watched this over the weekend, and I agree that it’s solid. It does what it needs to, and its metaness kind of covers for the fact that it’s a bit too much of a retread. Outside of Dewey, the older cast doesn’t get much to do, and I actually think it would have been stronger if they didn’t include Gale and Sydney. We could have used that time with the newer characters who seem, overall, flatter than the original group. (Sam and Mindy being the exceptions).

    But at this point they need to do something new in order to make the series worthwhile. I would love if they pulled a Halloween 2 (original sequel) and had it take place at the hospital that they’re all being taken to at the end of the film. Make it into a single location horror/mystery movie.

  21. I intentionally didn’t read this review until I watched it. I’m late but I watched it last night finally. I honestly didn’t care for it at all. I went to a Scream panel at Steel City convention a few years ago and someone asked if she’d ever consider doing another Scream. She said it would be weird doing it without Wes Craven but she’d think about it given the right script. I’m not even judging her and honestly she was a highlight of a movie I’m perhaps being too hard on. Just don’t know why this was so script that seemed adequate. Or maybe the entire premise was spent after part 2. I apologize I haven’t read the other comments yet. Maybe I’m being redundant. Anyway I’m glad I watched it but that’s the horror completest in me talking.

  22. Someone asked Neve just to clarify.

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