Scream film review (2022)

I found some story developments predictable and some situations laughably bizarre. But, this is arguably the best entry in the series since the first one, delivering the same slasher/whodunnit elements fans love, while also having some surprising twists, honoring what comes before it, and still being an incredibly tense watch throughout.

I recognize I’m a bit late with this review, even though I saw it not long after it was released, but I figured I’d stop putting it off and get to it. Before I get into it, let it be known prior to watching the latest entry in this franchise, I had very little knowledge about what it’s all about and the stories each film tells. I’ve always been aware of how iconic this series is, though. I mean, even if you’ve never seen any of the Scream movies, you know who Ghostface is because of the iconic mask and the various people who dress up as the character for Halloween, cosplay as him at conventions, and so on. I got a bit of a refresher, if you will, of the series before going into seeing the new one. I was never huge on horror growing up, but the genre has creeped up on me and I’ve grown a liking to it the last couple of years, so needless to say, I was excited to check this one out. I’m glad it was able to deliver in more ways than one, even though it was a bit predictable at times and the tonal shift towards the end of the movie is slightly bizarre and unforeseen. Then again, it could be my unfamiliarity with the franchise itself that makes me feel this way.

2022’s Scream takes place 25 years after a killing spree took place in a California town known as Woodsboro. Once again, the Ghostface mask is being donned by a new killer, who targets a group of teenagers and begins to uncover secrets of the past, which will put some at odds and make everyone second guess who they can trust as they try to figure out who’s the person behind the mask and what their motivations are.

Like most Scream movies, I assume, it doesn’t take long to get going and before you know it, it very rarely slows down. This series is notorious for taking the term “slasher” literally, since it can be incredibly gory at times and some of the kills are almost too brutal. In a way, I believe this is what the creator, Wes Craven, intended it to be anyway, and this new entry in the series does him proud in that aspect. In a way, Scream is inspired by many films that came before it, such as Halloween and Friday the 13th, with imposing figures like Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees being some of the most recognizable characters in the history of horror cinema. Although the Ghostface killer may not be as physically imposing as those characters, he/she is still menacing and can deliver the proper chills based on the methods and measures they take in killing people. In many ways, as mentioned, although the first film is sort of a tribute to what came before it, it’s still very creative and sets itself apart enough to be unique as well. It’s also a social commentary about horror tropes in general, which is what the sequels really take advantage of. In some ways, it almost feels satirical and there are certain elements you can’t really take seriously in the end.

As a relatively new fan to this series, I can say I didn’t really understand some of the plot points this new film goes in, especially towards the end when all the secrets start to uncover and the twists begin to materialize. As I began to realize, however, this is a staple of this series, and once I noticed these things mostly transpire in all of the Scream films, I came to the conclusion that it really isn’t a problem. On the contrary, I see it more as a tribute to the horror classics of the past, while also establishing an entirely new fandom longtime fans still can’t get enough of. Because of this realization, I enjoyed this Scream movie even more once I truly sat on my thoughts after watching it and accepting it for what it is.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the cast. I’m a bit biased about Melissa Barrera as Sam Carpenter, the main character of this film, since she was in In the Heights, which was one of my favorite films of 2021. There was some criticism about her portrayal of the character in Scream and although some of is warranted, I didn’t really have much of a problem with it. I mean, I can’t really think of a standout performance in this entire series, if I’m being honest, and people who go in expecting an Oscar-worthy performance in a Scream film are already going in with the wrong expectations. Her role was good enough for me and I feel there was a substantial amount of emotional weight she was able to carry throughout the film and make it feel believable. Another great performance was Jenna Ortega’s Tara, Sam’s sister. She’s been getting plenty of roles lately, but my introduction to her work was in the second season of You, which she’s great in. She’s a young actress and I feel she’s only going to get better from here on out.

Lastly, at least from the newcomers, I thoroughly enjoyed Jack Quaid’s portrayal of Richie, Sam’s boyfriend. I think he’s absolutely phenomenal in The Boys and I’m glad to see him getting more and more recognition. In many ways, he reminded me of Hughie with the way he reacts to certain things with his awkwardness, curiosity, and genuine concern for what’s going on. As for the rest of the young cast, most of them do a fine job with the material they’re given, but the three I mentioned are the highlights, at least for me. This is excluding the returning cast members, of course. If there’s anyone who knows what these films are all about, it’s Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette returning as Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley. It was a different experience for me since I didn’t grow up watching these films and seeing these characters develop. It’s hard to explain, but even without having any pre-conceived notions or prior knowledge, I still felt how impactful they truly are to this series as iconic characters. I would recommend probably watching the other movies prior to seeing this one, of course, but even with the slim chance that you do watch it without having seen the others, I think you’ll feel the same way about these three once they finally come on screen.

Like most Scream movies, you spend most of the film trying to figure out who the killer is, and it’s no different with this new iteration. My wife and I managed to figure it out pretty early on in the film, and we happened to be correct, but there were still enough twists, turns, and misdirects to keep us on our toes. We were never really sure until we were, and that’s really the beauty of this franchise. It does it very well, and I was pleased with the how the reveal went down. I mentioned earlier how there’s somewhat of a tonal shift with the film towards the end since the majority of the movie is extremely suspenseful and intense, as well as gory with its kills. It really doesn’t hold back. But, I assume like most of the movies, in many ways, it turns into more of a dark comedy/satire, and it’s something I wasn’t really expecting. At first, it really threw me off, but as I discussed above, once you educate yourself on what this franchise is all about, it does make sense and it didn’t really bother me anymore. Of course, it still may bother others, and that’s all subjective, at the end of the day.

What I’m interested in seeing is how this series moves forward. Every film has your typical whodunnit scenario with the cast trying to uncover who is Ghostface and why the killings are happening. For the most part however, every movie also has something to help it stand apart from the others, even if it’s something slight. This can only be done so many times before it begins to grow stale. Up to this point, it seems to have worked for the better, and there are definitely new narratives this new Scream establishes that future films can expand on in order to keep this series going. I, for one, am excited to see what’s next.

I thoroughly enjoyed Scream for what it is. It isn’t perfect by any means, some story decisions are borderline ridiculous, and the predictability of it all makes it a little less fun. Then again, the film is created with the intent of not taking itself too seriously, and I believe that’s how most fans should see it. Go in with the expectations the series has already set for itself, and I’m sure you’ll be satisfied with the result. In fact, you might even be impressed with how clever it can be at times with the characters, and how it honors what comes before it while still trying to reinvent itself in new ways.

Score: B+

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