Film review: ‘SCREAM’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

The Gen X nostalgia mining continues with yet another sequel/ reboot of a 90’s favourite, in this case Scream.  While just called Scream, this film actually marks the fourth sequel to the 1996 original (so it might be thought of as Scream 5) with Scream 4 having been released in 2011.

The first Scream film was a successful attempt at a fun if still violent post-modern homage/ parody of slasher movies such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street.  There, the typical group of teens living in idyllic Woodsboro was systematically killed by the knife wielding ‘Ghostface Killer’ as horror movie-obsessed characters commented on how all of this would play out in a slasher movie. Scream 2 saw a new group of teens become victims of a Ghostface Killer seemingly inspired by a movie called ‘Stab’ which was based on the original Woodsboro killings we saw in the first film.  Scream had become a sort of post-modern meta movie with film geek characters not only waxing lyrical about the tropes of horror movies but about how a sequel to the film about the original killings might unfold.   By Scream 4 the gimmick had worn a little thin and the franchise has lain dormant until now.

This film sees a new generation of teens falling victim to another Ghostface Killer.  When Tara (Jenna Ortega) is, like Drew Barrymore in the first film, menaced on the phone then repeatedly stabbed by the masked fiend, it triggers a new series of killings.  Although Tara survives, her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) arrives to investigate the crimes and with the aid of series stalwarts Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) take down Ghostface.  The plot is deliberately a near carbon copy of the original and events occur mostly just to trigger genre and franchise references and set up killings.

For a sequel/ reboot or as they say in this film a ‘requel’ it works better than expected.  The 10-year gap since the last movie has probably eased some of the Scream fatigue and the dialogue from James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick is just clever enough to keep us interested.  Also, it’s not just a smug film nerd meta-gag fest as there are also some moments of genuine tension and visceral violence.

Melissa Barrera, the ‘new girl’ as Gail Weathers calls her character Sam, makes a decent heroine lending her enough believable fear so as not to ruin the film’s horror elements but she’s still able to sell its self-referential humour.  It’s always wonderful to see the series veterans, Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox and they’re still sufficiently invested in their characters to give them the comic and dramatic force they need.

This is a mostly entertaining slice of horror-tinged comedy but its constant message of pop-cultural recycling while amusing in itself, reminds us of the dearth of ideas in Hollywood at the moment.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Horror/ slasher/ crime/ comedy.

Classification: MA15+

Director(s): Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett.

Release date: 13th Jan 2022.

Running time: 114 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

Related Posts: