There’s a huge market for sequels, prequels, revivals, reboots in Hollywood, and while few are successful, they keep on being made. Horror franchise Scream is just the latest in a long line of movies joining the likes of Halloween, Ghostbusters, The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Star Wars and more, combining a sequel and a soft reboot that leans heavily on a franchise, but finding fresh ways to open up a new chapter, with new cast and characters whilst tying in older characters to bring in long time fans.
Such “requels” are tricky and Scream attempts to do better, but is caught in its own desire to outsmart classic horror tropes. The film starts right where it all began – a young girl, alone at home, picking up a phone call that she shouldn’t have. Surprisingly, Tara (Jenny Ortega, You), is the unfortunate first victim of Ghostface, but doesn’t die.
Whilst it’s great that the young teen made it out alive, this horrific incident signals the return of Ghostface. This creates mass panic in the town, many who are still trying to move on with their lives from the violence caused by Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) in the 1996 film. Attempting to learn from past mistakes, Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) instantly zooms into Tara’s group of friends which includes best friend Amber (Mikey Madison, Better Things), ex-boyfriend Wes (Dylan Minnette, 13 Reasons Why), twins Chad (Mason Gooding, Love Victor) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown, For the People) and Chad’s new girlfriend Liv (Sonia Ammar). As we all know, the killer is always someone close to the victim.
Hicks’ favourite suspect however, is Tara’s sister Sam, played by In The Heights’ Melissa Barrera. Let’s just say Sam and Hicks aren’t exactly on good terms due to the multiple run ins Sam has had with the police. Even without ample evidence against Sam, Hicks constantly reminds Sam that the town doesn’t want her and that she’s a bad influence for Tara.
Zooming in on Sam doesn’t really help much though, because if we’re talking Ghostface, we know there’s always two. This oversight by Hicks had its consequences, but we’ll leave that to you to enjoy on screen.
The ‘Whodunit’ aspect is what makes Scream an enjoyable watch even when it’s not an entirely new or fresh idea. Plus, all the characters are pretty suspicious on their own. Amber is the fakest best friend you can ever have, Mindy and Chad are closely related to the original crime (we won’t reveal how, you’ll have to watch it to find out), Wes is the ex-boyfriend – need we say more?! – and Liv, well, she’s just a sketchy and mysterious character on her own. Sam gets the brunt of it all, having been the problematic sister who ran away from home at 18. She also has major mental health problems and a deep dark secret about her past so the suspicion keeps on piling higher and higher.
Determined to save her sister, Sam tracks down original Scream survivor Dewey (David Arquette) to ask for his help. It doesn’t take long until the original group of friends Neve (Sidney Prescott) and Gale (Courtney Cox) join the picture too – all thirsty to finally put an end to Ghostface. They guide Sam along the way and attempt to prove her innocence as Tara’s friends slowly drop like flies one by one.
Seeing old faces return and catching up with what they’ve been up to since the last fans saw them is always a nice feeling for any fan. Plus, these are smart kids (well, adults now), and unlike other characters in horror movies, they learn from past mistakes. They don’t repeat the stupid things that have viewers sighing in their seat, yelling “Why would you do that?”.
And that’s one thing that Scream does right that past horror requels don’t. Scream brings back characters – just as Halloween Kills did – but this time, they’ve grown and become wiser. Whilst townfolks in Halloween Kills repeat the same old mistakes, the Scream comeback characters learn to avoid it, and even come up with ways to outsmart the killer. Sure, people still get stabbed by the end of the movie – what do you expect? – but at least you don’t end up hating a character you once enjoyed.
Scream also learns to get with the times and understand that modern-day horror viewers now want more than just blood spilled and gore. It’s got to be reflective of today’s values and beliefs so we do get some healthy conversations around teenage sex, subtle queer representation and little shoutouts to Jordan Peele and The Babadook. Necessary? That’s debatable. But again, it adds to show how the franchise has grown from it’s terrible sequels and it is done in a non cringey and preachy way which we can all get by.
Of course, Scream won’t be Scream without the blood and stabbing. Thanks to technological advancements, the visual effects are far much better looking, and therefore, bound to make you squeal in your seat. Ghostface does go overkill with the stabbing so if it’s blood galore you’re looking for, enjoy having it all over the floor. The movie also has all the classic scenes and marks of a good thriller. We’re talking crawling on the floor away from said killer, close follow shots of characters that end with a good surprise, and more.
Scream pretty much has all parts of it’s formula laid down. Good characters? Check. Violence? Check. Connections to the original movie (that actually made sense)? Check.
A good ending? Unfortunately, no.
A big part of the movie is obviously trying to figure out who the killers are. It’s not exactly Sudoku so smarter viewers will be able to catch on who they could be pretty early in the movie. In fact, we’d go so far to say that the movie even revealed who the killers are before the big finale so is the finale a shocking, big gasp moment? No.
Although we were willing to close one eye for the predictable ending, the killers’ motivations and reasonings are just far too convenient and stupid to be forgiven. What would’ve worked better was if the killers were somewhat involved in the original killings, or even shared the same revengeful spirit as Billy Loomis did. Either one of these reasons would have made so much sense compared to what fans were given. This is especially since everyone at that point is revealed to be somewhat connected to the crime and/or each other.
Maybe the writers were trying to go for something different this time, but if it’s not broke, why fix it? The formula was working all along up till that point. As mentioned earlier, good requels aren’t easy to make, and even the good ones don’t rank high amongst fans and critics alike. That said, Scream isn’t so bad and is likely a movie fans and casual moviegoers can enjoy. It’s not mind blowingly amazing, but if you’re itching for some slashing, this is something that you’ll want to catch right out the gate.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Trust Scream to deliver a slashing good time. An enjoyable watch for fans of thriller and the original franchise, the lacklustre ending is the only thing we hate.
Story - 6/10
Direction - 6/10
Characterisation - 6/10
Geek Satisfaction - 6/10