More than a quarter-century after director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson redefined slashers and reignited the horror genre with the groundbreaking masterpiece Scream, the new Scream 2022 brings the main three surviving legacy characters back to Woodsboro when another series of Ghostface killings begin, in a sequel about requels and toxic fandom.
The twists start coming immediately after the franchise’s traditional opening scene attack, in which Jenna Ortega delivers a performance that rivals that of Drew Barrymore in the original Scream, and it is made apparent that this is a meaner, more unhinged Ghostface, and that these filmmakers will be generous with the blood and gore.
The new Scream reunites Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette, who come together to help a group of fresh victims, including estranged sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter, played by Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, respectively.
Tara’s circle of friends comprise the fresh blood to the cast, also including the wonderful Jasmin Savoy Brown as Randy’s niece Mindy Meeks-Martin and her twin brother Chad, played by Mason Gooding, along with Dylan Minnette as the son of Scream 4‘s now-Sheriff Judy Hicks (once again played by Marley Shelton), Sonia Ammar as Chad’s girlfriend, and Mikey Madison as Amber, who seems extra overprotective of Tara. Jack Quaid rounds out the cast as Richie, Sam’s boyfriend who accompanies back to her hometown after learning her sister was attacked.
Of the three returning legacy characters, it is Arquette’s broken and weary depiction of a retired former deputy Dewey Riley, slowly drowning in alcohol since his marriage to Gale ended, and haunted by tragic memories of the past, that truly grounds the film and gives it its heart. In his limited time on screen, Arquette delivers possibly his career best performance, as heartbreaking as it is heroic.
When Arquette and Cox, who met and got married and then eventually got divorced in real life through the course of the first four Scream movies, share the screen, Dewey and Gale’s reunion is among the most emotional scenes in the entire franchise, with both performers clearly bringing so much of their real history and how it is irrevocably tied to these films to the forefront of what is very possibly the last time they will work together.
I know some fans were unhappy that Dewey and Sidney never shared a scene together, and according to the filmmaker commentary their pivotal phone conversation was shot two weeks apart, but I have to agree with the directors that the results of Dewey’s decision to help Sam and Tara’s friends is in fact the only thing in the world that could ever possibly make Sidney Prescott return to Woodsboro, so it had to be that way.
Dewey is definitely the heart of this film, but Sidney is and has always been its brains and backbone, smarter than your average final girl, and Campbell gives a perfectly understated performance as a woman who has survived immeasurable trauma and yet has found happiness and has a family now that she will stop at nothing to protect, even if that means stepping back in time to take on a new generation’s Ghostface killer(s?) and remind everyone that whether it’s a sequel, requel, or remake, nothing ever beats the original.
Just like Jamie Kennedy’s hysterically on point meta monologues as Randy in the original trilogy, it’s Brown who gets to speak for and sometimes to the audience, and Mindy is easily the most likeable of all the new characters.
Brown and Ortega are the major standouts among the new cast, and you can count me as a proud new fan of both.
Among the film’s greatest ironies is that it is very much about the dawn of “requels” amid various fandoms’ (Halloween 2018, Terminator: Dark Fate) mixed reactions, but despite it sharing the same name as the original movie, Scream 2022 is absolutely not a requel itself, but in fact a sequel that keeps all four previous films firmly in canon. Another is that those fun jabs at “elevated horror” movies like The Babadook and Hereditary are coming from within what is itself, a bit of an elevated horror film.
The meta-ness of it all reaches an all time high at a house party remembering a murdered classmate named Wes, and when everyone toasts “To Wes,” there are voice cameos from many of the actors from prior Scream films, including Kennedy and Matthew Lillard, Hayden Panettiere, and others. This is among the numerous fun facts the directors and producers reveal during their feature length commentary track that is included on the 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD discs.
Everyone on the crowded commentary, including directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, as well as writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and producer Chad Villella, seem positively giddy about having made a Scream movie, confirming that it was one of the fastest written and produced films they’ve ever worked on, saying of the story that it “came out fully formed.” They were understandably scared of anything leaking, so they never emailed the script or spoiler details. And they freely admit that one legacy cameo in particular was their “big swing.” They say that Kevin Williamson told them that Sam’s visions were the one thing in the script that did not feel like a Scream movie, a that is why they should do it.
They also reveal that Williamson initially declined to be involved, but later, after a 90-minute phone call, asked if they would dedicate the film to Wes Craven. They agreed, and he came on as an executive producer.
The filmmakers acknowledge that in a post-Halloween 2018 (arguably the requel trend starter) world, they specifically did not want to make an actual requel, but deliberately wanted to keep everything from the previous films canon, and then incorporate more sequel characters, like Judy Hicks and Martha Meeks (once again played by Heather Matarazzo). I also loved hearing that Bettinelli-Olpin actually stood in as “Michael Myers” for the iconic paused screen as Randy is watching John Carpenter’s Halloween in the movie-within-the-movie Stab.
The extra attention to detail, with loads of Easter eggs for franchise fans, shows the filmmakers’ own love for the first four films and for Craven’s body of work as well. Dewey’s gun being used by Gale in the finale is an especially nice touch.
The opening scene with Tara on the phone with Ghostface was also the first scene written and the first scene shot, as well as the last scene shot due a Covid-mandated break in filming at one point. I especially appreciate that Roger L. Jackson, the iconic voice of Ghostface for every film, was actually on the phone with Ortega in real time during that sequence, just like he was with Drew Barrymore when she shot the opening scene of Wes Craven’s original Scream.
And it is good to know that the actor(s) who played the character(s) revealed to be Ghostface actually did film at least two scenes in the full mask and costume.
Additional bonus features included are the eight-minute behind the scenes featurette “New Blood” on the new generation of Woodsboro victims and potential killers, the nine-minute featurette “Bloodlines” focusing on the legacy cast members, and the touching seven-minute tribute “In the Shadow of the Master” honoring the great Wes Craven with a look back on his undeniable legacy as a legendary horror director.
There are also three deleted scenes, including what would have been an earlier entry point for Dewey that has him in a confrontation with Vince (Kyle Gallner) at the bar, a nice scene between Dewey and Judy Hicks that is especially poignant given their history in Scream 4 and what happens later in this movie (but it takes place directly as a result of the previous deleted scene with Vince, so if one is cut, they both had to go), and a brief conversation between Mindy and Sam that explains the killer’s possible motivation for a particularly gruesome and somewhat shocking kill that seems to be out of his victim pattern.
The commentary track is the easy highlight of the bonus content, which is otherwise fairly minimal.
Sharply funny and brutally deadly, what should have been titled simply Scream 5 is definitely among the best of the sequels since the flawless 1996 original. When the third act reveals begin, the blood really starts to flow, as the past once again catches up with Sidney, and the killer motivations are ripped right out of today’s social media-filtered headlines. Every generation deserves its own Ghostface, and this is just what today’s fans asked for.
The new Scream is out now on Digital (watch here via Amazon Prime Video), and arrives on 4K Ultra HD, as well as Blu-ray and DVD on April 5 from Paramount Home Entertainment. In addition, fans can own both the new 2022 movie and the original 1996 hit in a Scream Two-Movie Collection on 4K Ultra HD or Blu-ray.
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