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'Scream' is a too self-aware wannabe of the original

The phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” has never rung truer than it does now. In the day and age where every good classic film has to be revived with multitudes of sequels and prequels, and no one can just let a franchise die, I find myself pleading — why Scream? Scream has previously had not one, not two, but four (yes, you read that right) installments in this franchise AND a TV series. Scream (2022) is coming in swinging as number five. Striking while the iron is hot and creating one sequel to rake in more money makes complete sense, but after that it just seems ridiculous. How much can Ghostface really do to shake up little ol’ Woodsboro? Apparently, a lot.

A “happy” 25th birthday

Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) is a meta-horror film that tells the story of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) being hunted by murderer, Ghostface, in the quaint, fictional town of Woodsboro, California. These events ensue a year after Ghostface slayed his first victim — Sidney’s mother. Scream (1996) is a pioneer of its time for satirizing the usual clichés that occur in classic horror films, resulting in the characters knowing that they're in a horror film. Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) initially breaks this fourth wall by announcing his house party rules: you can never have sex, you can never drink or do drugs, and you should never say “I’ll be right back.” These rules have become a staple throughout each of the Scream movies by poking fun at the trite criteria and themes that have seeped into a chunk of horror movies. Overall, this film was well received, scoring a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes for both audiences and critics. 

The beloved slasher film celebrated its 25th anniversary by releasing Scream (2022). This film takes place 25 years after the original string of callous, cold-blooded murders that stunned Woodsboro. The original Scream villain, Ghostface, is reinvented as a duo who heinously antagonizes a high school friend group and their loved ones. Additionally, threatening to dig up old secrets from Woodboro’s chilling past. The story zeroes in on teenage Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), who gets brutally attacked by Ghostface within the first 10 minutes of the film. This causes the film’s It-girl, Tara’s absentee older sister, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), to return to the cursed town with her boy toy of six months, Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid).  The film features some of the original characters — Campbell, Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), Dwight ‘Dewey’ Riley (David Arquette), and Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) — all reprised by the original cast members; however, Ulrich comes back as the ghost of Billy Loomis, aka one of the two serial killers from the first installment of Scream, who now haunts Sam.

“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie” 

Scream (2022) directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett had big shoes to fill and didn’t quite succeed. The best cinematography/editing moment stars Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), one of Tara’s closest friends and the one who called Sam to come back to town. Wes is setting the table while — unbeknownst to him — his mother, Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton), lies dead in their driveway. She’s just been killed by Ghostface, who is now in their house. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett do an excellent job utilizing typical jump scare tactics in this scene to make it seem like Wes is about to be attacked. Overall, the film’s cinematography is average. Other than that singular moment, there are no other cinematic/editing moments that specifically stand out. It isn’t noteworthy — but rather forgettable.

Marco Beltrami’s scoring in the Scream franchise, became one of the core elements to its success. So not having Beltrami score the latest installment was risky since fans adore him and his work. The scoring for Scream (2022) is from Brian Taylor, who has composed for A-list movies such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Crazy Rich Asians, and Furious 7, among many others. Taylor brought his A-game. The scoring is one of the strongest parts of the film, making each scene more believable. The 24-track scoring is emotional, climactic and suspenseful. All in all, it works in the film’s favor. 

Who is Ghostface?

This installment had to fittingly honor its elder, so there is a two-person villain. Who ends up being half of Ghostface, the film's antagonist Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison), gives an exceptional performance. She plays up the sheep in wolf’s clothing trope to a T. Unfortunately, the viewer doesn’t get to see her truly shine until the end, where it is revealed that she is one of the two Ghostfaces. The sheer intensity she has when confronting Tara and Sam, as well as Campbell and Weathers, is on another level. Her execution of dialogue and body language lock the audience in.  

Ortega delivers a stellar performance as Tara. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, eating her every word, whereas Barrera’s performance as Sam is lackluster. As the films’ heroine, one would think her performance would be a guaranteed standout, but it ends up slipping through the cracks. Having Randy’s niece and nephew as two of Tara’s closest confidants seems effective on the outside, but in actuality, twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) drop the ball. Mindy is too similar to Randy, causing unoriginality to breed, and Chad was your conventional two-dimensional jock. 

Scream (2022) is too similar to its original, which ultimately works against the film’s favor. It’s one thing to be meta, like the original, but this film is so self-referential and self-aware that the viewer becomes detached from the world of the film. Movies are supposed to immerse you, not disengage. 

Featured Image: IMDb

Sources: IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, Brian Taylor, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb