It has been a long time since I have been as excited about a movie release as I am SCREAM, which confusingly is both the name of the fifth film in the franchise and the name of the original film. Thankfully, it is really, really fun, slaying any fears of sequel, or “requel” dread by displaying a ton of respect and reverence for the SCREAM legacy and fandom. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (READY OR NOT) usher the franchise into the next chapter with new characters, the bloodiest scares yet, and jaw-dropping twists that will leave your mouth as wide as Ghost Face.
The original SCREAM is in my top ten favorite films, and the franchise itself is the best in Hollywood history. What other film series has five films that are each amazing on their own with no duds? Although you do not have to see the first four SCREAM movies to enjoy this iteration, I highly recommend you (re)watch them all so you can get the full experience and appreciate all of the call backs to the impressive legacy of the series. If you thought the other SCREAM films were meta, just wait until you see this one, where the characters not only know all of the “rules” for horror films, but also know what to look out for when looking for the suspected killer. This puts the whodunnit paranoia to a KNIVES OUT level, both within the film and in the audience. I went through at least 10 potential Ghost Face suspects throughout the film’s two-hour runtime.
I know we are still in the middle of our own horror film in the form of a raging pandemic, but if you feel comfortable I encourage you to see SCREAM in theaters. Not only will this help to avoid spoilers, but there also is nothing like the communal experience of seeing a horror film on the big screen. The level of tension in the audience created by the mystery and scares makes for an unforgettable cinematic event. I just ask that you do not make the mistake of going to the movie theater bathroom by yourself… or telling your movie date that you will be right back. We know you won’t be.
Twenty-five years after Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) murderous rampage, a new killer (or killers) has taken up the Ghost Face mask to once again terrorize the community of Woodsboro, California. This time, Ghost Face is after a new group of terrified youngsters, who quickly rally to figure out why they are being targeted. But when the situation begins to spiral out of control, the three people who have gone through this terror more times than they would like to remember arrive to put a stop to it, some more reluctantly than others—morning news anchor Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), retired sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and the final girl herself Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). But will our favorite heroes survive through the final stab?
SCREAM does a phenomenal job of leaning into the nostalgia, honoring the original films and cast, both alive and dead, while also having the same tongue-in-cheek, fourth wall breaking humor fans have come to know and love. My favorite non-spoilery reference was the home entertainment center dedicated to deceased horror nerd Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). I also love that Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) mocks the decision to name a “requel” horror film the same as the original. Sound familiar? I am sure multiple rewatches will uncover even more easter eggs.
My only tiny nitpick about the film is that some of the younger cast members lack the charisma we have enjoyed in the majority of other franchise actors. Of course, there are standouts like Jack Quaid and Jasmin Savoy Brown, but in comparison to the phenomenal, similarly-aged cast in the criminally underrated SCREAM 4, this group is lacking. I will not say if Dewey, Sid, and Gale survive the Woodsboro murder rampage of 2022, but either way, if they do not return for the inevitable SCREAM 6, I struggle to imagine this cast being able to carry a solo film without them… or serious additional help.
It has been 11 years since SCREAM 4’s release and in that time I have fulfilled my dream of becoming a movie critic. So as Ghost Face says menacingly to Sidney in the trailer, “It is an honor,” and it is my honor to review this latest edition of a franchise that has fed my love of the horror genre and movies in general over the last 25 years. It is a bloody good time, and entertaining from beginning to end, inviting audiences to cheer on our scream queen heroes, laugh at the inside jokes… and yes, think twice about answering the phone.
My Review: A-