Settling in to watch what you know is the fifth instalment of a franchise that has spanned the last 25 years carries with it a little trepidation. Are the next two hours of my life going to be a complete waste? Well, if you’re asking in relation to Scream, the answer is no. The new ‘requel’ is a great addition to the franchise, picking apart the most recent horror trends with that familiar self-awareness we’ve come to know and love.
The film follows Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), who returns to Woodsboro after a Ghostface copycat pays her younger sister Tara (Jenny Ortega) a visit. With news that another series of murders have started again, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) are all pulled back into a world that they thought they were out of once and for all.
Scream quickly put fears to bed
I will admit that I wasn’t sure I was going to like Scream very much based on the way it started out. As a fan of the original trilogy and Scream 4 back in 2011, I was well aware of the dangers of hyping this film up too much, and initially I feared I had orchestrated its downfall in my own head. The beginning had me worried that perhaps this was going in the direction of a total reboot that only brought back the original characters as cheap cameos, but which lacked the confidence to stand on its own two feet without them there for most of the film. However, I’ve been wrong before, and thankfully, I was wrong again here.
Whilst an entirely new slate of characters was introduced, Scream looped the old gang back in in a way that didn’t feel like the writers had had to work particularly hard to do so. That being said, it wasn’t lazy either – more natural than anything else. Everyone was there with a purpose outside of pleasing long-time fans, and in a time where it can be far too easy to lean on people’s affections for characters in place of actually creating a logical explanation for them being there, it was nice to see.
Bigger and better in all the right ways
Of course, given the point we’re at in the franchise, it was expected that other elements of the film would be scaled up (mainly, the kills). It’s safe to say that Scream is home to some of the most brutal deaths the franchise has seen, as well as some pretty rough routes to getting there too. I winced, I gasped and I even cheered at not one, but two absolutely stunning Glasgow kisses. It fully delivered on the action, without a doubt.
However, there were also some huge sentimental and emotional beats throughout. These related to things both inside and outside of the narrative as well – most notably, the nods to Scream’s original creator Wes Craven, who passed away in 2015. I think he would’ve been proud of this film which, fifth instalment or not, is a cracker.
Observing as the observed
It was interesting to see Scream whilst living in the moment that it was passing commentary on. Obviously these are films that are known for their observations on the horror genre and the audiences watching, but given the fact that the franchise itself is older than me, I’ve only ever previously watched them from a retrospective point of view and never as one of its subjects per se. I loved how well the writers knew every single element that they pulled apart and poked fun at, and a couple of the monologues made throughout I couldn’t help but nod along in agreement with. Everything was so bang on, and made me wonder if had I have watched all of the other films as and when they came out over the past 25 years if I’d have felt the same way about them, or if watching them as someone who experienced that time first-hand added another layer that made them feel like they belonged to one generation slightly more than the rest.
One of the best
All in all, Scream is well deserving of every bit of hype you give it, intentionally or not. As a horror film, it works, and works well. It’s signature genre commentary is as on the money as ever – whether those it passes commentary on realise, however, remains to be seen. And in terms of the wider franchise, for me, it is definitely one of the top three films, however depending on the day it could even be the best release since the original.
Seeing as you’re here…
Why not read my review of The Tender Bar, one of Amazon Prime’s latest original films?