In a way, Scream (2022) is accompanied by 25 years of anticipation for me, and I know many more of you as well. Wes Craven’s 1997 (UK release) Scream literally changed my entire perception of what a horror film could be, and so there was an equal measure of trepidation and excitement for Director’s Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s venture in the world of Woodsboro and Ghostface.
With a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and based on the characters created by Kevin Williamson, Scream is set twenty-five years after those brutal murders that first swept the otherwise quiet town of Woodsboro. Of course, it’s not long before a new killer dons the mask to unravel secrets we’re yet to learn. Led by Melissa Barrera’s Sam Carpenter, proceedings kick off quite quickly after her sister, Tara (Jenna Ortega) has a stab-fest Ghostface encounter.
Returning to the town after years away, Sam brings along her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) as she’s hiding a secret and believes she knows why Tara was targeted. In an unexpected turn of events, we actually learn what it is, and it’s a big one! This early insight is a smart turn on what’s to come and, again, avoiding spoilers as much as possible, means everybody is definitely a suspect, as we hit the first of many shrewd surprises to come.
I won’t get too much into plot but if you’re a fan of franchise, then this Scream has everything here you could want. From those self-aware meta discussions about horror, how it works and how we all see it in society, to a legacy cast mingling amongst the new blood. Best of all, both sets get decent screentime and our new key members feel developed and believable. And, of course, the power of Ghostface remains in the middle of it all. An iconic horror character like this one is always going to have an essence of super-powered but remains conceivably beatable. That element of equilibrium is managed brilliantly.
Scream benefits from the strong ensemble, and it wouldn’t be a Scream film without Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott being class as always, and David Arquette’s Dewey Riley and Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers have their important moments to. We also see the return of Marley Shelton’s Judy Hicks, now the Sheriff in Woodsboro, and her son Wes, played by Dylan Minnette. We’ve also got Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown as twins Mindy and Chad, Mikey Madison as Amber, Sonia Ammar as Liv, Kyle Gallner as Vince, and someone else you will recognise, plus crisp, sharp and dark cinematography from Brett Jutkiewicz.
As a rule, I veer away from spoilers before seeing a film, but I was also aware that director duo Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett were keen to keep the mystery a mystery. So, trust me, everything you’ve seen in the marketing has been purposefully specific, and there are reasons discussed when we hit the ever-meta-edge of what makes Scream so special, and deeper than other franchises. Even the title has a reason, so you can see the hard work that’s taken place to make this a tribute to Wes Craven and a confident step forward with the narrative. A slasher flick within an elevated horror? You got it.
But none of these things matter if you don’t nail the finale, but man they get this one right. Can it cut it amongst one of the best? I’d say it’s up there with the original. This isn’t a quick and easy way out either, it kicks off so suddenly you’ll only realise afterwards what happened to some seemingly significant character. It’s intense, imaginative and utterly captivating.
With a dash of homage scattered throughout, there are twists coming on all sides, plus it holds a genuinely emotional edge, alongside a powerful conclusion that’s violent, funny and strangely rewarding. This is a Scream film that’ll delight, shock, excite and even give you goosebumps, it’s one of the finest in the franchise but, of course, you’ll never beat the original and nor does this intend to. It’s a horror love letter packed full of admiration and invention.