Over twenty years later and Scream’s shtick still works…mostly.
Set twenty-five years after the events of the original movie, this sequel — also for some reason titled Scream instead of Scream 5 — sees a new generation of Woodsboro teens in a familiarly dangerous predicament as they’re slowly killed off one by one, with the killer’s identity, as always, a mystery until the final act. Brought back to Woodsboro after her estranged sister barely survives a Ghostface attack, Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) is sucked into the town’s bloody history as she avoids death by knife while simultaneously contending with her own demons that threaten to swallow her whole. Also following franchise legacy characters such as Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), along with newbies such as Samantha, Richard Kirsch (Jack Quaid), and more, this sequel takes the series in its most meta direction yet as the thought of a “requel” sets the stage for a new, brutally violent version of Ghostface to return to the place where everything started with a vengeance.
I have to say that out of all the slasher franchises out there, Scream has probably faired the best over the years in terms of the quality of its sequels and its staying power with fans. Chock full of meta-jokes and scares, the story of these films often live and die by their killer reveals, commentaries on horror films as a whole, and the idea of what the film industry is like nowadays what with all the constant reboots, remakes, restarts, and as coined here “requels.” Good and bad news for fans of the franchise though, not everything works as it should, but not everything is as bad as it could have been.
Kicking things off with a solid opening scene, this film immediately dives into a familiar story structure as the newest Ghostface killer methodically begins to terrorize the sleepy town of Woodsboro. Giving far less attention to legacy characters than I was expecting, the new crop of teens and young adults are fine enough in their expendable roles, with the slightly more brutal nature of this new Ghostface giving fans an interesting take on a killer who usually stabs and runs their way through near every scenario with a kind of clunky flourish that sometimes draws chuckles in an unintended kind of way.
Satisfying in the sense that Scream usually doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the slasher elements of the series or the admittedly repetitive story it tells, the idea of a “requel” is an inspired one, just one that never feels like a fully fleshed out idea even though it’s a good one. And by the time the final act of the movie gets going, this set-up doesn’t turn out as clever as it initially promises, with the killer reveal just barely making enough sense to call it a middling success. I will say, however, that the final few minutes of the film set up an interesting new path for a franchise that’s only now slightly starting to show its age.
So while I do think Scream continues the trend of delivering another solid outing for the franchise, things aren’t as fresh or interesting as they once were, somewhat lessening the impact this one had on me by the time the credits rolled. That being said, I liked this film overall and appreciated the thought put into what it was trying to do, but at this point, it’s clear that this series will forever be chasing the high of the original film’s creative success. Still, I’ll take another sequel whenever that inevitably happens.