REVIEW: ‘Scream’ doesn’t surpass recent horror counterparts, but still satisfies

Nearly a decade after Wes Craven directed his final “Scream” movie, the late filmmaker’s legacy lives on with a fifth installment for the franchise.

Audiences take a trip back to Woodsboro in “Scream,” set 25 years after the first movie that had the same title. This film starts out much like the original did, with a teenager, Tara (Jenna Ortega), being terrorized by a villainous character in a Ghostface mask.

Unlike the first movie, though, Tara survives and is hospitalized. This captures the attention of not only her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera), but the familiar trio of Sidney (Neve Campbell), Gale (Courteney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette) as well. These characters converge on Woodsboro with the goal of uncovering who the new Ghostface is as attacks continue.

The “Scream” series has always felt a bit too episodic, rather than cinematic, and it’s true again with the latest movie. Each film just feels like a monster-of-the-week plot, only these episodes happen to be a bit longer.

Even by introducing some new characters, as well as a script that incorporates modern horror trends and culture, the fifth “Scream” doesn’t do too much to separate itself from others in the franchise. It’s another murder mystery made to put the audience in a guessing game.

Despite the episodic repetitiveness, though, “Scream” 2022 remains a rather fun experience. It doesn’t break any ground, but the execution by directorial team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett is on point.

What helps is the balance of old and new. Tara and Sam are really good new characters. Both are sympathetic and Sam in particular has an interesting backstory. The sisters are joined by Richie (Jack Quaid), Sam’s boyfriend, to round out a solid new trio that helps an audience buy in on the latest entry.

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Courtesy Paramount Pictures.

Meanwhile, it’s also great to see the original trio of characters in play once again. The film brings them in at a slower pace, introducing them into the mix one at a time in each act, which helps the new characters remain in focus, while still letting viewers enjoy moments with fan favorites.

The horror elements are well crafted, too. One thing to note upfront is that there are quite a few jump scares. However, unlike other modern horror pictures, all of the jump scares for “Scream” are inserted with purpose to provide a dash of humor with the suspense.

The attacks and murders are done well, too. There’s plenty of blood being spilled and a few brutal scenes play out, but they’re balanced by having those classic “Scream” struggles.

Ghostface is never a super strong slasher, and there’s often an entertaining element to the attacks, where both the villain and the person they’re after are putting up a fight. Directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett pulled this off nicely in their last film “Ready or Not,” and do it again with the fifth “Scream.”

Credit also has to go to the directors, as well as the writing team of James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick for the film’s commentary on horror films. As expected, the commentary in “Scream” is very direct, with little subtlety.

The film manages to get away with it, though, because it’s delivered with levity, and a bit of self-deprecating humor as well. It also helps that the movie smacks the concept of toxic fandoms across the face in a satisfying way.

The latest “Scream” isn’t an amazing horror movie, but it is one that offers a good time. The horror and humor elements work nicely, plus there’s a good mix of old and new characters to follow. 3.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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