Cast: Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Well, here we are again. A horror movie in January. This has all the makings of a colossal failure much like many others that have come before it. It doesn’t matter the franchise or the director, this is the kiss of death for most movies. So, how does Scream stack up against those expectations? I am pleased to report that we finally have an expectation of the rule and a strong, competent movie on our hands. If The 355 was the first nationwide dud of 2022, then I’m pleased to see that Scream is our first hit. A wonderful combination of the works of the past while fresh and modern enough to work with new audiences, Scream is a breath of fresh air for mainstream horror movies and showcases why this franchise is still getting installments made 25+ years after the original movie was released.
The film follows Sam Carpenter (Barrera), who comes back to her hometown of Woodsboro after her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) is brutally attacked by someone dressed in a black robe with a white ghost mask replicated an attacker that terrorized the community in 1995. Sam must now work with Tara’s friends as well as those who lived through the previous murders to find out who is behind these attacks and prevent any more people from getting hurt. From a horror perspective, the one issue many mainstream horror movies have is they aren’t particularly clever with their gore and violence. It’s usually just loud noises, stab stab stab, and pause until the next scene. The horror scenes in Scream are nothing short of excellent, with tension being built in nearly every scene and a level of suspense that keeps the audience guessing the whole time. There’s one scene in particular in the second act that routinely found me anticipating the killer coming out of the shadows and brutally gutting some poor victim. By holding off and not immediately going for the easy kill, the movie makes the end result much more worth everyone’s time by never allowing them to feel comfortable. Speaking of the kills, this movie pulls no punches when it comes to the gore. Scream leans into its R rating and makes sure that you remember what you’ve seen during the 114 minute runtime. There are several scenes where you can see the victims just drenched in their own blood and seeing how they got to that point is completely satisfying. Finally, one of the main elements of the plot is the level of meta humor and description of typical horror tropes. I don’t usually enjoy this type of plot device, but I found that in this instance it works more often than not in the context of the plot. Even in Tara’s first scene when the killer calls up to ask her what her favorite scary movie is like in the original Scream, Tara’s responses were that of “elevated horror” like Hereditary and It Follows which I wasn’t expecting from a mainstream slasher-style horror movie. It can get annoying every once in a while, but I would say 80% of these scenes are funny and the dialogue serves a greater purpose than just developing the characters. Seeing characters from all generations of the Scream universe come together for one more attack on their lives will be a satisfying sight for all of those who have followed these movies through the 90s all the way to today. When Courtney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell all return in their original roles, we see the development that these characters have gone through over the years and how the actions of each film have had personal consequences for all of them. Campbell and Cox in particular stand out due to their presence even if it is minor compared to the main characters, but every scene they are in is completely carried by their charisma, concern, and strong dialogue. It’s tough to ask for much more from Scream since how many franchises come out with a huge hit with the fifth film that they release? Scream did exactly what it needed to do to both invite new audiences into the theater as well as please those who have been here for nearly three decades. I don’t know what the future holds for Scream from a theatrical point of view, but if this is the last movie that they release then at least they went out on a high note.
Overall, if Scream served as a tribute to director Wes Craven’s memory, then they did a great job of honoring his memory. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett really did surpass my initial expectations and they ended up giving Paramount the first big hit of the year. Now that we’ve seen Scream, studios don’t have an excuse to dump their garbage horror in January, because Scream was great to watch and it was profitable for the studio. For some of the younger, less established actors, this is a huge opportunity for them to be in a major blockbuster hit and I’m happy to say that they’ve made the most of their moment. Looking at how things are stacking up, Scream may not only be a phenomenal January horror movie, but there’s a good chance that this could be the best movie of Q1 in 2022.
Final Thoughts: See It