SCREAM  (REVIEW)
Updated: Jan 24, 2022
Dir. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
SCREAM 2022 or 5CREAM to give it its rightful title is the first big hit of horror of the year and like the franchises mascot, goes full steam ahead and kills the competition for the rest of the year. Taking on a new set of teens, SCREAM is a classic slasher that knows what it is and knows the current climate for horror. Like previous entries, the film references other genre classics while crafting a well made who-is-it murder mystery with plenty of blood and horrific death scenes.
Starring Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Taylor Brown, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minette, Jack Quaid and Mikey Madison with returning leads, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Marley Shelton and David Arquette, the series returns years after the events of SCRE4M with the return of Ghostface and a number of bodies on the killers tally sheet. To detail the plot any further would be to begin spoiler territory but if you've seen any of the previous films, it's a new set of teens who start dying at the hands of who Ghostface killer who all have ties with legacy characters of the franchise. For those that are going in blind, this film may be be better as the meta jokes will go over your head while still giving an effective and addictive slasher.
Where SCREAM plays best, is it's ability to blend humour and horror while not overpowering either. So many nods to the franchise that it keeps its place as an interesting continuation while also introducing fresh talent is, as mentioned at one point, a passing of the torch, but after 25 years, a welcome one at least. In 1996 Neve Campbell was just 24, the same age as Jasmin Savoy Brown now so it's a realistic time to hand over a well worn legacy to a new band of kids and unlike SCRE4M, could really bring up these youngsters as the baton holders for horror in the franchise, time will tell.
Ghostface is back and as ever, it's a guessing game to the real identity of the killer which plays twists and turns and while the film leads up to the reveal, it's the final act that brings the most menacing levels of kills and fun and both generations come together to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, unlike Scooby Doo, the real Shaggy isn't here to help take off the mask but the film does hit a few heartstrings for hardened fans of the series.
Admittedly there are things that don't work and SCREAM does feel more closely aligned to remake territory than sequel and while that is the point, other franchises have given something more original ie HALLOWEEN and CANDYMAN. As a result, some of the meta references feel like the editing suite were more interested in referencing their films than writing something truly original and SCREAM 2022 may date quicker than a slice of cheese in the sun but it's always fun and that's what matters here.
Many horrors of late have been close to home and played on more serious themes, even references to why THE BABADOOK is a better film than SCREAM, I mean STAB, is too referential to society and the genre now so to be a ground roots slasher is both refreshing and fun. HALLOWEEN KILLS, the second sequel in the reboot saga focuses more on the psychological trauma of a slasher survivor where here Sidney, Gail and Dewey are back and ready to get back to business.
It's obvious that the same director cannot be in the seat here but Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett give a great level of continuity to make this feel like an authentic entry to the series, even adding enough heartfelt and natural reminders to the franchise's creator, Mr Wes Craven.
Where SCREAM 2022 really succeeds is it pays to fan service while giving something new. THE MATRIX REVELATIONS ticked off a lot of fans because Lana Wachowski basically said nobody is touching the franchise except me and as such if you want a new film, I'll give you some shit contractually. Here, there's a lot of love for the franchise, poking fun but never taking the piss and as such it feels familiar yet new. The film is layered with Easter eggs and scenes that mirror earlier entries but never so much as to make them merely parodies. Everything about SCREAM feels natural especially the fact it knows what it is but does so while retaining its body of a horror film.
SCREAM takes a stab at reinvigorating a series that may appear to have died and while it doesn't equal the best entries (1 and 2 for anyone interested), it does certainly prove there's blood running through the veins of the series and there's much more to come. Hopefully.