Eleven years after the last installment was released, the self-referential slasher franchise returned with its latest outing, simply titled Scream in January and earlier on this week, saw its DVD release.
Over two decades after Ghostface’s massacre, the chalk-faced killer once again returns to Woodsboro to enact horror-movie inspired slayings. Sam (Melissa Barrera) is drawn back to the town following an attack on her estranged younger sister Tara (Jenna Ortega). As the body count rises, she, her boyfriend (played by Jack Quaid) and her millennial clique of friends (Mikey Madison, Jasmin Savoy-Brown and Mason Gooding) band together to try to figure out the identity of the new killer, recruiting veteran characters like lovable officer Dewey Riley (David Arquette), intrepid reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and iconic final girl Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). At the same time, Sam grapples with her own dark heritage, that is inextricably entwined with the original killing spree.
The omission of any numbering fro the fifth and latest film is indicative of the overall tone, which denotes a return to the basic cornerstones of the franchise, blending together pitch- black comedy, mystery and gratuitous violence. It does reuse plot elements and character archetypes from the original film, even including an Andy Kaufman-esque viewing of the Wes Craven classic by the new main characters, makes it feel derivative. The contrived family relations of the new protagonists to the old ones, establishing a strained continuity, feel like something out of a soap opera rather than a horror movie. However, unlike its contemporary Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), which was released a month after on Netflix, this film doesn’t brush its original protagonists to the sidelines to watch the struggle of newer, less compelling characters. Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox feature heavily throughout the final act, where they aid the legacy characters against the final threat. The rapid fire of witty banter exchanged between them demonstrates why these characters are so beloved. As well as its commentary on the ever-changing field of horror cinema in its discussions on ‘elevated horror’ and lowbrow slashers, it also skewers film purists and toxic fandoms.
With its tight plot, brutal kills and enough cleverly hidden Easter eggs to warrant multiple viewings, his new film shows that Scream remains as polished and sharpened as Ghostface’s hallmark blade.