Scream (2022-style) is a slasher movie that deals with other slasher movies and fans of slasher movies. Being familiar with the series that dates back to 1996 would undoubtedly aid understanding, but it’s not mandatory. I, for instance, hadn’t seen the four Scream films before this one and yet followed the story line.

Ghostface is back.  The masked, knife-wielding killer returns to wreak havoc in Woodsboro. Make that two knife-wielding killers because where there’s one, there’s always two. Making it far more enjoyable is the return of “luminaries” from the franchise – Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers, David Arquette as Dewey and Skeet Ulrich as Billy.

The film is propelled by the vicious stabbing of young high schooler Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), who receives persistent calls when home alone one night. The caller instigates a “game” based around horror movie questions. While Tara survives and her friends rally around her, it is the arrival of her estranged sister, Sam (Melissa Barrera), whom she hasn’t seen in five years, that moves the narrative arc forward. Sam spills her guts on why she left and why her life fell apart.

Now seemingly stable, she has a steady boyfriend of six months, Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid), and is back to ensure no further harm comes to Tara. Unfortunately, keeping that promise is no easy feat because there is a killer or killers on the lose that links back to Sam’s past. She elicits help to track down the culprit or culprits from a veteran law man who has himself been stabbed by a masked killer nine times. That is where Dewey reluctantly re-enters the frame. He puts calls out to Sidney Prescott and his ex, Gale Weathers, telling them that it’s “happening again”.

Importantly, Dewey lays out three rules for catching the killers.

1. Never trust the love interest;
2. The killer/s’ motive is always connected to the past; and
3. The first victim has a friendship group that the killer is a part of.

Writers James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and Guy Busick (Ready or Not) have done justice to the characters created by Kevin Williamson with a gory and comedic screenplay.  Scream maintains the right reverential tone for those who appreciate the genre … and the original set of movies, the last of which was released in 2011.

I thought Melissa Barrera did a good job as Sam. She had as much credibility as you could muster from a necessarily contrived storyline. Of course, you need to suspend disbelief on more than the odd occasion when  seemingly fatally stabbed or shot “victims” survive. Under directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet (Wes Craven, who was at the helm of the first four movies, passed away in 2015), Both Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet worked with writer Guy Busick on Ready or Not (2019).

Scream hits the right notes while never taking itself too seriously. Mixing the legacy characters with the new generation works.

Alex First

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