Out of the Past

With the myriad of reboots and sequels we’ve been subjected to over the last few months, it only makes sense that 2022’s “Scream” keeps the original film’s tradition of spelling out the rules while creating terms for what it is: a ‘requel’ with returning cast members serving as ‘legacies’ to endorse the endeavor. However, by adhering to the rules without making the characters more interesting, it just traps this “Scream” into standard slasher fare.

 Wes Craven’s 1996 “Scream” had the benefit of two things: 1) a smart script from Kevin Williamson that satirized horror movies by pointing out the consistencies among them (i.e. “I’ll be right back” spelling doom for the speaker; virgins being spared while the promiscuous were punished) and managed to make the mystery of the murderer a sly surprise; 2) a skilled horror director who knew how to stage the shocks and slaughter with a pace that didn’t put you to sleep.

 This “Scream’s” script may be slim on surprises but benefits from 2019’s “Ready or Not” directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett overseeing the eviscerations. For the masked and robed costumed killer (known as ‘Ghostface’) to return to Woodsboro 25 years after the original killings, the movie’s savage and sound. Why the return for a copycat killer? The film explains.

 When Tara (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by Ghostface in a similar situation to Drew Barrymore’s character in the 1996 original, she miraculously survives which summons her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) to her Woodsboro hospital bedside. Seeking expert advice on how to stop Ghostface, Sam turns to a ‘legacy’- trailer-bound/former deputy Dewey (David Arquette). While the years haven’t been kind to Dewey (he’s banged up from the four previous “Scream” films, has divorced Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and hits the bottle), he does impart expertise to Sam: the clue to Ghostface’s return is connected to the past.

 While Sam pieces together the puzzle, Dewey recalls the past by reaching out to ‘legacies’ Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and ex-wife Gale. As self-aware as Dewey is knowing he’ll need help with Ghostface’s return, we’re as self-aware knowing original cast members showing up puts a legitimacy to the ‘passing of the baton’ in condoning a new series of “Scream’ sequels.

 As it stands, 2022’s “Scream” does its best to deliver a film as savvy as the original. It succeeds in its self-deprecation, addressing what horror movies have become and the rewards of a reboot. Where it lags is the lack of interaction between the new cast and the ‘legacies’: had Sydney spent more time with Sam imparting advice or had Gale’s tenacious character tangled with the slow-moving millennials she’s teamed up with,  the energy and interest into the characters might have been elevated and Ghostface’s identity reveal more of a reward.

 In comparison to Craven’s creation, this “Scream” only doles out functional horror movie fun. As such, it’s only a squeak.

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