It’s been 11 years since the last installment in the Scream Franchise, and for whatever reason, the powers-that-be decided it needed another chapter.
Although I questioned the wisdom behind this decision, I’ve always liked the Scream movies (though part 3 is not remembered fondly, they got back onto better footing with part 4 and ended on a satisfying note) so I was excited to go see this movie with my high hopes intact.
What a crushing disappointment this is.
The storyline is the same – years after the original killer and all the others that followed, Ghostface is back to terrorise more teens.
A simple storyline, not too hard to get right you might think; but you’d be wrong.
In trying so desperately to come up with a reason for this movie to exist, they cobble together a way to tie the past to the present and in doing so, tie themselves into ridiculous knots trying to make it work. The ‘star’ of this movie, Sam (Melissa Barrera) whose character name I had to look up because that’s how little impression she made on me, is connected to a character from the first movie in a painfully convoluted rewrite of the past – done in order to shoehorn the connection in. She is haunted by visions of that character (whom she never met) who though particularly evil in the original, is now almost a benevolent presence for her – so much cringe.
Her sister is attacked in the opening sequence which is brutal, but not much more so than Drew Barrymore’s demise in the first movie, and this leads to everyone coming together in Woodsboro.
We are very, very briefly introduced to each character before they get slaughtered (care factor zero as most have the charisma and personality of a tea towel) and we see some old familiar faces as three original cast members (and one from part 4) return, stealing even more of the spotlight from our insipid ‘stars’.
Dylan Minnette makes a good impression as Wes, he has star power and can act, which is more than I can say for most of the new cast; with Barrera particularly lacking in these qualities. Jack Quaid also has some good screen presence as Sam’s boyfriend Richie.
Casting choices here give away at least one of the killers early, so then it’s just a matter of watching that pan out; though, as a friend recently noticed – no-one ever actually catches the killer in these movies, they always just reveal themselves in the end. No-one in this friends group seems to care much for each other either, throwing a party literally a day after two friends are brutally murdered/attacked – this apathy isn’t ‘cool’, its gross and disturbing; and it hamstrings the script – if they don’t even care for these people then why should I?
The nods to Psycho, The Babadook, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood etc just made me want to watch those far superior films instead of this dross – name-checking does not always work in a movies favour!
There is a good set piece in the middle of the film that was only mildly marred by a lack of expected police presence; it was exciting and messed with your expectations in the way previous Scream installments would have. I also enjoyed the ‘behind you!’ scene; and the horror of your fingers being too slick with blood to work on your desperately needed touchscreen phone, something that hadn’t occurred to me before.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyer Gillett, the late Wes Cravens absence is sorely felt here; this is not witty, wry, funny or scary enough to call itself a Scream film, and it lacked heart. For me, I don’t consider it part of the franchise. Add to this the fact that they felt they had the right to kill off someone they shouldn’t have, someone who deserved a far more reverential send off, and it just rubs more salt into the wound.
There’s a big difference between being clever and knowing with sly nods to the audiences expectations; and making each line/scene a joke on the audience. This movie is not clever, half the ‘tropes’ they refer to aren’t actually tropes at all but are choices very specific to this movie itself; and it is existing in a world where being meta and acknowledging tropes is now passe, having been done to death in other, better, movies.
Its lazy and cowardly to just riff on itself – and its way too self-referential for its own good. Like watching someone kiss their own ass for 2 hours, it certainly doesn’t inspire benevolence towards this unnecessary chapter.
From the nonsensical title (its Scream 5 ffs) to the try-hard meta meta meta, this is maddeningly self-satisfied, the constant digs at previous installments are annoying, and the references to classic or ‘elevated horrors’ (as one character says like that’s everyday speech – lmao) are unearned and in all honesty, embarrassing.
I wish I liked it, I really do, but this was an epic fail on every level for me.