Scream finally opens in theaters this weekend, with a ton of anticipation behind it. The beloved horror franchise has lain dormant for a little while now. Scream 4 was released in 2011, and while there was an MTV series, nobody counts that. This new film is from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett of Radio Silence, whose 2019 film Ready or Not impressed with its gore and whip-smart dialogue. This new film looks to introduce a new generation to Ghostface and Woodsboro, and while it is a good time for sure, it is a tad predictable and uneven.
Scream Is A Great Tribute To The Series Beginnings
We open as all Scream films do, with Ghostface calling a girl home alone on the phone and asking the immortal line, "What's your FAVORITE scary movie?". This girl is named Tara (Jenna Ortega), who monologues about elevated horror that Ghostface doesn't appreciate. After she is attacked, we meet her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) and her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid), who race back to Woodsboro to make sure she is okay. Yes, we are back in Woodsboro, 25 years after we first spent time there. As Ghostface starts piling up bodies, the new generation of teenagers enlists the help of Dewey (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) to uncover the mystery as to why Ghostface is back.
The killer is obvious right off the bat within the first ten minutes of the film as we meet the cast for this new Scream. That was a bummer, though the motivations for the killings this time got a chuckle from more than one member of the audience. They do an excellent job following the new rules established here, and the explanation of the rules for the film is a great examination of fandom and fan culture right now. The script from writers James Vanderbilt and Gary Busick is great, with lots of great callbacks to the original Scream, the series in general, and plenty of smart jokes. Where things get tripped up a bit is the new cast. Most of them are very one-note and not asked to do much, and only two of them rise above that to make a mark. Quaid is fantastic and a character you root for, while Jasmin Savoy Brown is fantastic as this film's new Randy. That will make sense when you see it. The returning cast is fine as well, as we get to see a more mature, nuanced take on these 25-year-old characters. The new cast pales in comparison.
Scream has been in the can for a while, and that may have worked against it. They clearly took a heavy hand to the this film in the editing bay and may have tinkered with it a bit too much. It feels very choppy, especially in the first twenty minutes and a bit at the end. No spoilers, but one death in particular lands like a thud because of some quick edits. That is not to say Scream isn't violent, because boy is it. This is the goriest of the franchise, not from the amount of blood per se, but because of how brutal they go with the kills. We stick with the violence to the bitter end with each kill, staying with the trauma and forced to look at it like no other film in this franchise before it. Some of these are going to stick with you after the credits roll. Slasher fans will be quite happy.
And they will also thrill with the callbacks to the series, especially the first film, and pay tribute to the late, great Wes Craven. Again, no spoilers, but there are a ton to spot, and it will be fun to go back on multiple viewings and pick up on the ones that are missed. They end the film with a card that reads "For Wes," which is fitting, even though they spend the entire movie paying tribute to him.
While not the worst in the franchise, this is a solid entry that will have fans of Scream and slashers in general, leaving the theater happy. It overcomes some weak performances and predictability to be a fun time, though it also would work as a fitting end to Ghostface and the Scream saga as a whole. Let it be, guys.