TThree weeks and four days had passed since the 1996 meta slasher which revived popcorn horror cinema was released. ScreamReturns to a world that is very different from the one it was when it began. For seven years, Wes Craven, the original director, has been dead. This is the dominant horror scene. ‘elevated horror’This, the 11th film in the franchise, is a comedy that satirizes the audience in just five minutes. Harvey Weinstein, whose Miramax company produced the first four films… well, you know the story there.
That Scream 5 – or just Scream as it’s curiously/confusingly being titled – even works in 2022, is quite remarkable. This world is more complex and cynical than the one in which the original film was made. Memes and tropes are a major part of our daily conversation. We’re so aware of all things meta that a man from Silicon Valley called Mark Zuckerberg (borg?) We hope that one day, our lives will be within it. Two years after a worldwide pandemic that threatened our ability to have fun and has often led to the complete evisceration, the frivolity of the ‘Scream’Franchise may look like Colin the Caterpillar at a wake buffet.
So it goes. Scream 5 – as we’re calling it here for the sake of clarity – not only works, but is possibly the best film in the entire series, is something of a miracle. Whereas the original movie – via the franchise’s king dork Randy Meeks (who gets a fine tribute within) prodded at the rules of slasherdom, here incoming directorial duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or not, Devil’s DueThey) decided to expand their horizons and take on Hollywood’s creative problems. The prevailing trend in franchise do-overs is principally ‘re-quels’ as they’re called here. There’s meta, and then there’s a punch on the nose.
Yet, Scream 5 is as clever as the franchise has ever been, and funny too, it’s also emotional – old faces return, old faces depart. And because you can’t expect ’90s icons Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette to do all the running, an influx of new talent (The Boys’ Jack Quaid – surprisingly effective – and new lead Melissa Barrera, who turns in one of the great ScreamQueen performances) successfully lifts the weight.
Scream 5It is also genuinely amazing. If you work out who inhabits the film’s Ghostface garb early, it may well be worth posting your CV to Scotland Yard. Actually, Scream 5It is so much fun that it makes the modern age seem like a clown in an gulag. It is possible to be transported back to simpler times by hearing the violent squelching of flesh on flesh, the pop punk music that soundtracks the first aerial shot from Woodsboro High School, and the audio motif that announces Sheriff Dewey’s arrival (Arquette)
Perhaps the final third – or ‘Act 3’ as Ghostface proclaims, as meta and as creepy as ever – is a touch over complicated. Maybe the film’s writers, Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt, are a little too proud to include so much commentary from media in a movie about screaming teenagers. But chances are you’ll be too engrossed to care, strapped to a rollercoaster ride that never sags, racing towards a destination called euphoria. Scream 5 doesn’t just work. Isn’t just brilliant. It’s perhaps the start of the most glorious period of the franchise to date.
- Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
- Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette
- Date of publication:January 14th (in cinemas