Scream (2022) Review

The Scream series feels like one that can easily adapt to the changing nature of horror. After helping to revitalise the slasher genre when it was first released, the meta commentary of the first Scream was highly influential in creating a string of meta horror films, but the horror landscape has changed in recent years, with the trend towards legacy sequels being a prime candidate for the signature meta commentary of Scream. With the directors of Ready or Not taking the helm, with this being the first Scream film not to be directed by Wes Craven, this had the potential to be a fun horror film, and I’m glad to say I had a lot of fun with it.

Taking place 25 years after the events of the first Scream, the film shows a new generation of teenagers living in Woodsboro who get terrorised by a new incarnation of Ghostface. It soon becomes clear that this new version of Ghostface is trying to create a legacy sequel (in the vein of something like the David Gordon Green Halloween films), with a desire to bring the original cast back to Woodsboro and ensuring that the people being targeted are connected in some way to the cast of the original. The main meta commentary element of the film is on the legacy sequels, taking the idea that a lot of these sequels are unoriginal and uninspired and seem to wallow in nostalgia rather that doing anything new with horror or with the series. There is a little bit of a debate between the different types of horror and which style is more effective for a modern audience between the classic slasher films and the modern elevated horror like Get Out, The Babadook and The Witch. Whilst I doesn’t go fully in depth with this it was nice to see how the film references the changing nature of horror.

The main meta element of note though is the films focus on toxic fandom and the damage that they can do to the horror genre, or film in general. Specifically, there is a pretty heavy criticism on the people who attacked Rian Johnson over Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and how these kinds of toxic fans want to create a film environment that doesn’t take risks and instead just want to be validated in their own opinions. This films shows toxic fans at their worst and acts as a warning message to demonstrate that studios should not listen to these types of fans.

The performances from everyone are pretty solid throughout, with Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega having great chemistry with each other and sell a lot of the more dramatic moments in the film, creating compelling characters. David Arquette has a strong arc here, although I don’t want to spoil it, and he is really engaging throughout the film. Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox do good work in their roles, whilst Jack Quaid and Mikey Madison are fun to watch. Some of the cast members, like Dylan Minnette, Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown are charismatic throughout the film, but aren’t quite as well written as the others, but they are still fun to watch. What works well though is that the returning cast members are not focused on at the expense of the new ones. The new ones, especially Barrera and Ortega, are the main focus and the returning characters are given just enough time to make a suitable impact. This avoids the trap that the David Gordon Green Halloween films fell into in putting too much of the focus on Jamie Lee Curtis, at the expense of the new cast members, which in turn is what helped make it so Halloween Kills didn’t have the impact it should have had.

The technical elements of the film are well handled as well. The directors do a great job at building tension and scares throughout the film. At no point did I feel that any of the scares were cheap and the camera movements throughout the film ensured that there is also a sense of coherency throughout the more overt horror scenes. The production design does a good job at evoking the feel of the original Scream, especially at the end of the film, and the music works well at building tension.

Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with this version of Scream. What could have been a lazy cash cow is instead a fun look at the nature of legacy sequels and toxic fandom, and works well as an effective horror film, probably being the best of the legacy horror sequels.

My Rating: 4/5

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