What’s your favorite scary movie?
When the original “Scream” was released in 1996, asking this simple question would send chills down the spines of movie-goers.
A stomach-churning slasher so sharp in its wit and horror, “Scream” helped revamp the slasher genre of horror all the while finding a special place in the heart of future generations to come. Little did these people know, the slasher flick would still remain popular for another 25 years, and would return to the big screen with the 2022 sequel, “Scream.”
Co-directed by Tyler Gillet and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, the men behind 2019’s “Ready or Not,” Scream revives the historic Woodsboro murders at the hand of the masked killer Ghostface — this time set in and around 2020. Drawing heavily on its past renditions, “Scream” structures itself around a new group of friends in Woodsboro, most of whom are related to past characters in one way or another. Blood runs deep in town, but so do the genes.
Perhaps the best thing going for “Scream” is its cleverness, which can best be associated with the upfront awareness that it is a sequel of the original film. Characters speak about the films that came before as if they were there, but discuss horror itself on an entirely different level.
The “Scream” franchise is built upon the fact that the characters in the film world know, respect and study other horror films — such horror being the driving factor for the eventual killers in the film. However, what is different for Gillet and Bettinelli-Olpin’s “Scream” is its inclusion and attempt at what they deem “elevated horror.” Simply, “elevated horror” can be summarized as a more sophisticated horror film, complete with much more than just the story arc of the killer who jumps out of the closet.
“Scream” behaves as a classic slasher flick, complete with relative blood and guts, whodunnits, as well as the occasional jump scare. But what truly drives “Scream” is how the film portrays such horror.
It is a game, per se, led by the director and screenwriters, who toy with the audience when it comes to the typical tropes of classic horror, drawing the viewer in with the action and their fresh take on the genre. Characters do not just interact — they perform, they ask questions, they ask the audience to think differently, to prepare themselves for what could be unimaginable. It is this skill that embodies the film, drives it, but most importantly, keeps the audience intrigued and on their toes.
Being a sequel film, “Scream” successfully strays away from solely continuing a story, but instead reinvents it, drawing from the past to help paste it into the present. It is an abnormal take to say the least when it comes to the rules of cinema. However, it is an important take for everything the audience thought they knew about the franchise as it fades into a totally new beginning.
On that note, the entertainment alone of the film exists in mass — the adrenaline rush of the whodunnit, complemented by the self-aware style that inhabits our characters. In the beginning, the film fights to properly get itself up and running. A strong second act proceeds and an even more powerful third act helps put a devilishly wicked ribbon on the gift that is “Scream.”
That said, the thrill or scare itself of the film remains relatively minimal — not to say it is nonexistent. Instead, it becomes rooted in the fear of horror, the fear of something bound to happen. Scares exist in jump forms, yes, but the horror behind “Scream” is more cynical than plain fright.
The actual idea of a person hunting down a group of people, watching them and plotting against them, along with the audience’s anticipation of some grand finale that the film itself will lead to, you are brought along willingly to witness something most people couldn’t stomach.
Featuring an ensemble cast including Jack Quaid, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, as well as the likes of the original “Scream” stars such as Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, “Scream” is a smart and never-ending thrilling take on the classic horror genre.