The latest and fifth installment of the iconic, comedic and meta slasher franchise “Scream” hit theaters on Jan. 14, and I’m definitely answering the phone for this movie.
“Scream (2022),” or more commonly known as “Scream 5,” which I’ll be referring to it as, is the first of the franchise without creator and director Wes Craven since his passing. The new film features not just a new ensemble of characters which are just begging to be killed off, but also a new creative team — writers, directors and production company.
The “Scream” franchise was purchased by Spyglass Media Group from the Weinstein Company in November 2019, after the controversy and closure of the company. Spyglass then confirmed a new film would be coming, and fans like me have been waiting in anticipation ever since.
The “Scream” movies have been some of my favorites for as long as I can remember. There’s just so much to love in these movies — whether it be the developing iconicness of Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) throughout the decades, the spine-tingling ring of a phone, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s very brief and over-marketed role in the sequel, or Emma Roberts absolutely bodying the final girl gone wrong in her role as Jill Roberts, the unlikely killer in the fourth (and insanely overhated) film. I just can’t get enough of these movies.
Naturally, I had to go see the latest flick — but with some hesitation, of course.
“Scream 5” serves as an almost reboot for the franchise, or a “requel,” which it’s frequently referred to as in the film since it brings back our favorite legacy characters: decade-spanning final girl, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a now retired sheriff (and single bum) Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and investigative diva-journalist Gale Weathers, who’s now split from Riley.
The film picks up 25 years after the original Woodsboro killings with a new ensemble of characters, mostly high-schoolers, who seem like tired attempts of redefining the horror tropes that “Scream” made so popular. Some characters, like sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) give refreshing performances and offer an entertaining dynamic as the film’s attempt at new leading roles. The film also spares no homages — with Dylan Minette’s character Wes Hicks (a tribute to the late and original director Craven).
Naturally, with a new Ghostface on the hunt, Sidney must return to Woodsboro (presummedly for the first time since 2011’s “Scream 4”) to be reunited with Dewey and Gale, who also returns to town from a big career in New York. Their dynamic hasn’t changed much — with each film the characters seem a little more grateful to see each other at the beginning of a new killing spree. However, with Dewey and Gale now broken up, there’s some much-needed tension in the character’s dynamic, and it really pays off in the end.
The “Scream” movies’ commentary on pop culture and horror movies has been a staple of the franchise, and the latest installment does this tradition justice. Whether it be its jabs at “elevated horror,” tired and overdone reboots of famous horror movies or the tendency to not kill off legacy characters, the film is ultra-meta, per usual.
“Scream 5” is also somewhat fresh too. Some of the new characters might not be anything special; you have your basic jock Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) and overly self-aware film buff Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who are actually relatives of the famous Randy Meeks from the first two films. The sidekicks and supporting cast are somewhat lackluster, but their kills are not.
This film’s Ghostface is deadly, and the kills are brutal this time around. There are suspenseful and surprising sequences (a standout for me stars Marley Shelton as returning character Sheriff Judy Hicks). Characters who might seem like an obvious suspect for Ghostface just end up being added to the body count. However, the film does lack its famous chase scenes — something that the franchise has always done justice.
The killer’(s) reveal in the infamous third and final act is nothing surprising or shocking, but it’s exciting and such a trip. The final act is the best part of the film, in my opinion, and the suspense factor is extreme. The motive feels familiar but is fresh and revamped in a 21st century fashion. The commentary on toxicity in movie fandoms, Reddit, legacy characters and “passing the torch” are some of the best parts of this film and really seem to give Ghostface’s motive meaning.
The only thing I was really hoping for but didn’t get this film but didn’t get (besides Emma Roberts and Hayden Pannettiere from “Scream 4” being back for this film) was more of the “legacy characters,” also known as Sidney, Gale and Dewey. This film might be a backdoor reboot or “requel” setting up for stories with new characters, but the original characters didn’t have much screen time for how much they were marketed — in typical “Scream” fashion (similar to Drew Barrymore’s famous first kill).
With the end credits rolling, “Scream 5” is a decent addition and re-introduction to the long-running horror franchise. With its social commentary, fan-favorite characters and constant metaness, this film does its job pretty well. It’s definitely not my favorite or anywhere near the top of my list of my favorite “Scream” movies; but considering it’s backed by a whole new creative team, that’s expected.
2022’s stab at a “Scream” movie delivers.
This will be Jackson Parks’ second year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year. He served as Junior Editor his first year on staff.