‘Scream’ is the Year’s First Bloody Good Time at the Theater (Review)

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Who says you can’t release a good horror film outside the fall season? As awards season picks up steam and audiences start to slowly come off their high from last month’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, we set our sights on the New Year and the exciting film slate ahead. Typically, January is viewed as a month where studios dump films they don’t expect to generate much buzz (or money) because the quality isn’t there. However, that’s not the case with 2022’s Scream. Instead, Scream is a well-crafted, blood-soaked horror film that’s the year’s first great offering for fans of the franchise, horror fanatics and moviegoers in general. 

Set 25 years after the first Scream, this whodunit horror film takes audiences back to the town of Woodsboro where a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and starts killing people one by one. This is the fifth film in the franchise and is a direct sequel to 2011’s Scream 4. However, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who made the delightful 2019 comedy horror film Ready or Not) reshape this sequel as more of a direct sequel to the original Scream, just like David Gordon Green and Danny McBride did with the 2018 Halloween and its original, Halloween from 1978. So, no, you don’t have to see the Scream sequels (even though they are mentioned once in this film). 2018’s Halloween was a smashing success that gave birth to the idea concept of “remakequels,” direct sequels to original horror films set decades later. And oddly enough, this is even mentioned in the new Scream. While this formula will not always be successful, Scream gets it right by being creative while also paying homage to the franchise and its creator, Wes Craven. 

This is the first Scream film directed by someone other than Wes Craven, who passed away in 2015, and if he were alive today, he would be proud of this Scream. Directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett have made a sequel that’s shocking, thrilling, and most importantly, one that keeps you guessing. Thanks to revisiting threads from the first film, implementing today’s technology, and even being meta like the recently released The Matrix Resurrections (though not nearly as meta as the new Matrix sequel), Scream pulls off its kills and twists in good, bloody fashion. This new Scream might turn off some viewers by delving into the realm of meta; however, it works here and its jabs at fandom in particular couldn’t be more accurate, given where the state of that particular segment of pop culture is right now. 

The original three from the Scream franchise, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, return once again as Sidney, Gale and Dewey. Make no mistake, it’s great seeing this trio back again. And while they’re all good here, it’s the new cast of characters, played by actors around the age of the Campbell, Cox, and Arquette when the first Scream came out, that shine brightest. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega are the highlights as sisters at the center of this new story. Other young stars who hold their own among this cast include Mikey Madison (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood), Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why), and Jack Quaid (The Boys).  

Outside of The Night House, 2021 felt like a weak year for the horror genre. So, to see a horror film this good right out of the gate for 2022 is great for the genre and, hopefully, is a harbinger of what’s to come for the rest of the film year. Kudos to Paramount Pictures for releasing this in January and making it available on their streaming service, Paramount+, late next month, especially considering the latest surge in COVID-19 cases across the US. If you feel comfortable going to the theater, this is a must-see opening weekend. Come for the thrills, nostalgia, and jabs that aren’t just the ones coming from knives going into people’s bodies. Leave with a grin on your face after witnessing arguably the best sequel centered around the fictional town of Woodsboro. 

Grade: B+ 

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Fan of Atlanta Braves baseball, movies/tv, and all things Batman. Healthcare Program Coordinator by day, honey walnut shrimp aficionado by night.