Ghostface is back for yet another 'Scream'
New entry in the horror franchise calls itself a 'requel'
The new "Scream," which can't even muster a number or subtitle, dubs itself a "requel" — a reboot, remake, and sequel all rolled into one.
The new "Scream" starts exactly like the first one did 25 years ago, with a young woman, alone in a house, answering the phone and dealing with a playful killer who wants to give her a test. In the first film it was Drew Barrymore and in a genuinely bold move, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson killed the star off in the opening scene.
But "Scream" 2022 lets its young victim live to set the plot in motion. We get the legacy characters back — Neve Campbell as Sydney, Courtney Cox as Gale and David Arquette as Dewey — as well as a new slate of fresh faces and potential victims.
Dewey informs Sydney that it's all happening again but that "something feels different." Unfortunately, it doesn't. It all feels unremarkably the same.
This requel is just a remake with running commentary and none of it very clever. It is a shame because the filmmakers, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, are the ones who gave us the wickedly fun "Ready or Not." The rules of "Scream," however, seem to bind them to a formula and keeps them from cutting loose and having fun. Characters keep telling us the rules and then fail to follow them so they all deserve to die for their stupidity. Follow the rules and you know the killer(s) right away.
Plus, this "Scream' is as confused as a serial killer with multiple personalities. It is not sure if it wants to offer fan service or if it’s making fun of its fan base or if it thinks it is so meta that it can do both. Characters make fun of horror tropes but then to make sure and not offend anyone they create exceptions for Jordan Peele and films like "The Babadook," which it has the film's resident horror nerd call "elevated" horror. That's what people who don't want to admit they like horror call it, not horror nerds who just embrace it as GOOD horror.
I feel like the first "Scream" was Wes Craven making fun of how lame the horror genre had become but instead of people seeing its criticism they embraced it as a loving homage to the crappy horror they had grown up with and loved. I always felt it was a cynical flipping off of horror fans by making fun of the genre and all its tropes in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sort of way and without exuding any real affection for the genre in the way something like "Cabin in the Woods" did.
I confess, I never liked "Scream" or any of its sequels or reboots or whatever. I felt like it created a trend of horror film that didn’t know how to really scare audiences because every scare came with a joke so it could pretend it wasn’t really trying to scare you. It is all exhaustingly bad to me. Perhaps one person felt the same because someone exercises the Harrison Ford escape clause and gets killed just so they never have to return.
This film thinks its being bold but it’s not so then it hides behind the fact that it can pretend that it's just the killers who think they are being bold but aren’t. Get it? It is all a joke. If it really wanted to be clever it would actually break its rules and defy horror tropes to come up with something original to either terrify or entertain us. As it stands, it did neither for me.
I do suggest people check out Wes Craven's "New Nightmare," where I think he actually perfected the meta horror comedy.