Scream (2022) follows 25 years after the original Scream murders, as a new group of young people try to breakdown the tropes of the "horror requel" to determine who amongst them is the killer before everyone from the town's past is murdered.
[This movie was viewed via the movie theater at the time of this review.]
Scream (2022) Review
Kudos to the team behind this movie...They jumped on the "requel" satire quickly. The Scream franchise is of course known for its dissection of horror tropes and trends, originally playing the meta fiddle of classic slashers. While that became the bread and butter of the franchise, it also eventually began to eat its own tail through self-deprecating humor in the purposefully derivative and predictable nature of the films. It eventually twists each subsequent film into an ever-growing abomination of jading charm and wit.
With a decade+ gap between movies, there was enough time to let the horror genre breathe and evolve, allowing for another Scream film to come in and play its satirical games. The result was mixed, leaning heavily towards positive, as the franchise is always a safe place for some decent knife-wielding mayhem and inside jokes for fans of the franchise and the genre in general. There is the familiar structure of the film, with its essentially required meta/fourth wall-breaking exposition, but I found myself smirking or chuckling through most of it. And the movie balances it well with arguably the most brutal carnage a Scream movie has had to date.
I will say one of the surprising qualities of this film is its sometimes brutal violence. Despite being an R-rated slasher franchise, Scream is known less for its kills and more for its jokes and twist endings. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see how far this film took some of its kills, and the coinciding effects. Yes, they stuck to the trusty knife, but they took many of the kills a step further, with longer, visceral shots and more on-camera slashes and stabs. Where in the past, Scream left much to the off-screen abdominal cavity, this film put the knife right in the face, literally, at times.
While I have an appreciation for the Scream franchise, I wouldn't call myself an adoring fan. I am certainly entertained by each release, and even impressed by the ability to keep things fresh despite the derivative nature of the franchise's core. But I think the studio and writers were victims of their patience from the perspective of a casual fan. There was an unnecessary and sometimes excessive amount of depth given to the past, in particular moments in which classic characters were getting a bit too much sappy screen time. It's been essentially a decade since Scream 4 and almost the same time gap since the Arquette (Dewey) and Cox (Weathers) divorce in real life, so the moments in which they try to reestablish decayed chemistry felt not only forced, but a bit of a slog. It was so overbearing in one particular scene, I realized I may have missed the joke and that the movie was drawing these scenes out to add to the layer of requel satire. But even in the case I wasn't giving the creators enough credit, it was at the very least a joke that took way too long to develop with no punchline.
The Scream sequels have always been a somewhat safe world in which for writers to operate. If you end up making fun of yourself in the process of poking at the slashers you're satirizing, so be it, it's all part of the fun. In a modern trend of slow-burning nuance, it's nice to indulge in a little "safe" now and again. The proper mixture of horror and humor is just what the doctor ordered when you just need a little break from the somber and drab. Scream was the perfect way to kick off 2022 in horror.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10