Twenty five years after the original Woodsboro murders Ghostface is back, ready to terrorise a new generation of teens, and once again, beloved final girl Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) must return to uncover the true identity of the masked villain. Reuniting with her old gal pal Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), Sidney gets to work on yet another serial killer psycho.
Scream (or, as its being dubbed, ‘5CREAM’) is the fifth installment of the cinematic franchise, and the first film not directed by the late, and great, Wes Craven. Instead, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, known for their work on Ready or Not, step up to the challenge and execute it with an imperturbable slasher style. The original Scream revitalised the slasher genre with its upfront acknowledgement of the contemporary horror genre, fearsome final girl and gruesome murders. It was the highest-grossing slasher film of all time, up until the release of Halloween in 2018. With Craven’s legacy at their disposal, it is clear that Scream 5 is an undeniable love letter to him, and without a doubt a film that he would be proud of. The appreciation and dedication to the legacy and to the fans of the franchise is utterly admirable. Much like the original, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet have gone above and beyond to showcase their commentary of the genre, and the fan base that comes with it.
Wes Craven’s influence is clearly displayed throughout the film, building beyond Scream 4’s commentary on reboots and its infamous message –“don’t fuck with the original” – this new entry advances the conversation onto requels: modern entries into franchises that work as a combination of a remake and a sequel, often introducing a new younger cast but featuring just enough original characters to appease old fans. The majority of the plot follows sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) and their group of friends. Sprinkle in a few dashes of the original characters Sid, Gale and retired sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and the result is more than enough to satisfy old fans, and encourage new ones to visit the original films.
Self-awareness weaves itself constantly into every conversation, every scene and every character – a key staple of any Scream film. A great horror provides all the pieces from the get go, alluding to the events of the film before they even happen, leaving the audience reeling as it all comes together before your eyes. Scream 5 does exactly this and more as its characters torment you with their rules and suspicions, leaving you second guessing yourself right up to the final reveal. It evolves the conversation beyond Craven’s original films, balancing references to modern horror movies with old slasher tropes.
Beyond its cut throat commentary, the film wastes no time earning its R rating, slicing and dicing victims viscously. Each cinematic entry into the Scream franchise provides more than just a few iconic kills (Rose McGowan VS. Garage door being a personal favourite). Olpin and Gillet’s Ghostface is just as messy and clumsy as the last, resulting in blood soaked slasher fun from the first victim to the final.
Scream is certain to exceed the expectations of some, as the overall result could have easily been sloppier. Instead, the final product is a smooth, sarcastic slasher that pays its dues to those that paved the way. It avoids being too predictable, a must for any ‘whodunit’ as it provides just enough evidence to suspect almost every character. Rather than attempting to recreate and replace the original, this Gen Z slasher opts for a more respectful approach, focusing far more attention on its film fanboy commentary, ignoring the final girl and poking fun at the audience. It is reassuring to see one of horror’s greatest franchises staying authentic to its origin. The film makes one final thing clear – Ghostface lives on for the next generation.
Scream (2022) opened in theatres on January 14.
by Kelsie Dickinson