Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Scream (2022) - Review

Once franchises reach their fifth outing, the returns typically start to diminish. Scream knows this, and in playing with its self-reflective and meta origins, looks both at its own history and the state of franchise filmmaking in modern Hollywood. After tackling horror films, sequels, trilogies and reboots, the next logical step is to send up what one character calls in the film a “re-quel”, not quite a reboot, not quite a sequel. And in doing so, brings the franchise full circle, back to the original.

If you’ve seen one Scream film, you know the set-up here. There’s a mysterious new killer on the loose, donning the infamous Ghostface mask and making all the creepy phone calls they can. There’s a friend group, full of fresh new faces to the franchise, and a mission to find out who the killer is and then stop them. It certainly doesn’t change the formula, just mixes it up a bit for the format its underlying commentary is directed towards.

This is, after all, a legacy sequel. With the recent trend over the last five years or so of following up a long dormant franchise with a legacy sequel where all the originals are back, it seems a natural next step for Scream to do the same. Throw in some pretty relevant points about elevated horror, toxic fandom and fan service, and the satirical bits basically write themselves. Surprisingly, there’s a lot more here about long running franchises than actual horror films, specifically some no so subtle hints to a certain eighth entry from a galaxy far, far away. 

All of this is pleasing for people who do love this franchise, a seemingly knowing nod to its themes of fan service. But an argument could be made that it almost do enough, and doesn’t commit to its legacy characters, thus not selling its winking nods to the past. The trio of returning characters are hit and miss. David Arquette, back as Dewey, gets the most to do and is the most interesting of the three. He seems to have been hit hardest by the trauma of the four deadly events of the previous four films. But the other two, Sydney and Gale, played again by Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox, have very little depth and very little to do. 

It certainly doesn’t help that none of the new supporting cast members are terribly memorable, save for the new main female role of Sam, played by Melissa Barrera. Their connections to each other feel superficial and they lack any personality outside of a singular trait here or there to make them distinct from one another. With that being said, the angle that’s taken with the character of Sam is an interesting one. Melissa Barrera is fine in the role, nothing to write home about, but the character herself is definitely interesting, and more than capable of holding up some of the weaker elements of the new cast. 

There’s plenty else to talk about, but that would give too much away, and no one wants spoilers when finding out who the killer is might be the most fun part of all the franchise entries. The characters leave a lot to be desired outside of Sam, especially the new cast. The themes and commentary are very relevant and very true when pertaining to fandom, franchises, and the toxicity that comes with it. Scream is not interested in giving audiences anything new, just providing a familiar window to the past, a return to Woodsboro and to where it all began almost twenty years ago.

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