Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream."

Film Review – Scream (2022)

What’s your favourite scary movie?” It’s the chilling phrase now synonymous with Ghostface, the knowing serial killer(s) that struck such a chord with audiences back in 1996 and cemented its place in horror lore forever. With its biting, satirical, witty edge provided by writer Kevin Williamson and expertly brought to life by maestro Wes Craven, Scream was – and is – a sensation and succeeded in both elevating the genre while poking holes in its mechanics and structure that brought a new generation into the world of the slasher. Some 25 years on, Ghostface returns to a 21st century that’s ripe with nostalgia, legacy and franchise expectations. Perfect fodder, then, for a “requel”.

“Wait, a requel?!” you ask. That’s what the kids are calling it these days, apparently, so we will run with it. Not a reboot (even though it kinda is), not a remake (it kinda is) nor a sequel (it kinda is), the “requel” has its own set of “rules” just like those of the original slasher films that define it. Essentially, you do all of the above, bring back “legacy” characters – in this case, Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox – to pass the torch whilst bringing it into the 21st century by way of retreading its origins. Confused? You needn’t be, for Scream 5 (it’s Scream 5 and yes it’s mentioned) – brought to us by Matt Bettinelli-Opin and Tyler Gillet, helmers of 2019’s brilliant slasher comedy Ready Or Not – brilliantly twists its origins and history into a fully meta, hilarious and surprisingly gory trip.

Nothing is off limits here in terms of its bite and satire as the film takes pot shots at both its own back catalogue and that of the new norm in Hollywood that revolves around the thriving “IP”. You only have to look as far as Halloween, the “daddy” of slasher serial killers and the big horror “requel” that arguably started this new fascination, to see where Scream is aiming its blades. 2018’s hugely successful rebirth dropped any sub-headings or numbers from its title, brought legacy Jamie Lee Curtis back and was a sequel/reboot/rebirth/remake all at once, itself now having two sequels of its own.

The culture of nostalgia and franchise shenanigans (good and bad) are what Ghost Face is really after here, slashing its way through Hollywood’s current overpowering trend with pokes at recent trips down memory lane (Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Terminator) and at the system for turning its back on those who try to change the status quo (the in-movie “Stab 8” is directed by the “Knives Out Guy”, you can work out the rest) to follow the well worn path.

Screenwriter James Vanderbilt is no stranger to this after his work on multiple Spider-Man films and he and co-writer Guy Busick take enormous, gleeful pleasure at massacring the cinema landscape, all the while refreshing a series that we thought had died long ago (ironically, this Scream will probably make more money than all the originals did) as well as the notions of hard-core fandom (“Fandom isn’t toxic, it’s about love” – watch out Snyderites), and the world of Netflix as one character “bones up” on Stab so they can “be prepared”.

While it’s feet still stand firmly on the slasher ground of Craven and Williamson’s original concoction and there’s plenty of that to go around, Scream 5 is a brilliantly pithy and delightfully honest look at what many think is the slow death of cinema and all the facets therein, whilst thrusting it into the new decade. The irony isn’t lost on us, however, that we both enjoyed the film and that, when all is said and done, this one may help boost the box office receipts for a few weeks despite more variants. Then again, irony isn’t something lost on Hollywood, is it?

★★★★


Horror | 18 | Theatrical | January 14th, 2022 | Paramount Pictures | Dir: Matt Bettinelli-Opin and Tyler Gillet | Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton