Scream – a feature film review by Andrew Buckner
The simply titled Scream (2022), deftly directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet in a manner which respectfully recalls the trademark style of Wes Craven, brilliantly accomplishes the complex task of being a “re-quel”. This is a term the bloody fun fifth Scream picture informs us is a remake of the first film in a series that includes all new cast members. It is also one that traces around the edges of the occurrences of said show without exactly duplicating what came beforehand. This is while being a direct sequel that maintains the on-going story involving the original leads from prior installments in the cinematic succession. In a sharply penned speech near the end of the first act, this is laid-out in engaging fashion. Within this stretch, Colin Trevorrow’s marvelous Jurassic World (2015) and the Jason Reitman-guided Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), my favorite feature of last year, are mentioned as examples.
Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet set-up this concept with a fresh-feeling 10-minute commencing incident that is eerily reminiscent of the classic episode involving Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) which launched the groundbreaking Scream (1996) from behind the lens maestro Craven (whom the recent exercise is lovingly dedicated). It isn’t as effective as the Becker sequence or as twisty as the almost as good bit which begins Scream 4 (2011), which Craven also blessed with his masterful administrative hand. But it is a solid portion, nonetheless. Besides being outright enjoyable, it slyly comments on “elevated horror”. This is while providing a glimpse into the genre preferences of some of the latest characters.
The plot of Scream can be easily summarized. Sidney Prescott (in another terrific presentation from Neve Campbell, who commands every scene she is in) returns to Woodsboro after twenty-five years to combat another iteration of Ghostface. Though the narrative is about what is expected from a “re-quel”, the incredibly clever and meta script from James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick does a more than satisfying job of further developing its already established personalities. It sustains dramatic tensions from earlier ventures while introducing entirely unfamiliar ones to these central figures.
However, I had difficulty getting into the less acquainted personas until about the half-hour mark. Yet, they emerge as fully fleshed out and easy to root for by the time the wildly amusing third act comes into play. Likewise, the enactments from all involved with these budding roles, especially Jenna Ortega as Tara Carpenter, are strong and credible. During this previously stated latter section, the affair ups-the-ante on the continually delightful whodunit factor that courses through the effort. This is while outdoing itself as a demonstration of sustained suspense and increasingly brutal violence.
Notwithstanding, many of the on-screen kills in the undertaking, though high in number, come across as repetitive. To be fair, they are much in line with what is anticipated from an antagonist who has a fictional run of eight flicks named Stab. Even with this in mind, this attribute remains underwhelming and unimaginative. Still, these usually quick segments, if comparatively diminished to other chapters in the cycle, are finely staged and shot.
Yet, the reliably structured 114-minute production is perfectly complimented by magnificent, easy to watch turns from Courtney Cox as news anchor Gale Weathers and David Arquette, who is quietly powerful in his portrayal of former officer Dewey Riley. Though some of the songs selected in the endeavor don’t quite gel with the atmosphere of the attempt, the music from Brian Tyler is generally excellent. The cinematography by Brett Jutkiewicz is simultaneously vibrant and moody. Moreover, the editing from Michel Aller is nicely done. The costume design from Emily Gunshor is proficient. This is also true of the sound, effects, lighting, camera, exposition-focused second act, and make-up work.
Peppered by a few genuinely hilarious moments and a thorough commentary on the current state of fandom, Scream (2022) is roughly on-par with Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 4. It smartly ignores the comedic emphasis of the dismal and disappointing Scream 3 (2000), which was also helmed by Craven. Instead, the Paramount Pictures distributed fabrication has a cool energy and no-nonsense tone. It is as superbly executed as it was in all the other additions to Scream. Benefitting from realistic yet intelligent self-referential dialogue and movie references galore, the outing is customary on occasion, but still a blast for both cinephiles and casual theater patrons alike.
Rating: **** out of *****