Written by Alexander Reams
There’s always another. Another way to get around a character’s death, another way to bring a franchise back. The “Scream” franchise has always been one to mock these traditions within the slasher genre. However, with films like “Scream” (2022), which follows the recent trend of bringing the “legacy characters” back, which I tend to accredit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as being the start of in recent films, there can be eyebrows raised, including this writer’s. Bringing Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, and David Arquette back to the franchise after an 11-year gap between “Scream 4” and “Scream” (2022) was a fantastic decision on the writers part. Getting to see the iconic trio of Cox, Campbell, and Arquette on screen together again was fantastic, even if it is short. Yes, the legacy characters do not overpower the newcomers, which is a breath of fresh air in modern cinema. The newcomers are filled out with faces we have seen before, but this is a star-making for (almost) all of them. Melissa Barrera (“In the Heights”), Jenna Ortega (“Jane the Virgin”, “The Fallout”), Jack Quaid (“The Boys”) as our “new” trio. Barrera may not have been marketed as the true “lead” but she commands the screen with this tenacity that all great horror leads have in them (i.e. Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween”)
Before my screening began at my local Alamo Drafthouse there was a pre-show video about the use of jump scares in horror cinema and the history of its inception. Seeing this not only gave me a greater appreciation for jump scares, but also a greater disdain for the laziness that much of modern horror cinema has when not only crafting them but choosing to use this. Following this up with “Scream” teasing us multiple times with jump scares provided the biggest laughs and the biggest scares of the film. This is huge, and I mean HUGE credit to Oplin and Gillet for not only being smart comedic but also smart horror directors. They are aware of the intelligence of the audience. All of the scares hit, and there was real suspense throughout the film.
Not all is perfect back in Woodsboro however, there are some cliches that are inevitably fallen into. Such as the traditional loud noise with a jump scare, instead of letting the scare stand for itself, which can be done (“Insidious” and “It: Chapter One” come to mind). While this was frustrating at times, it was more disappointing but since this is a VERY common occurrence, I wasn’t too surprised that they went this route. The other big cliche that they fall into is character development, out of the new characters we are introduced to only three get fleshed out into what feels like real characters. Again, a very common occurrence in modern horror cinema but still something I always am hoping will change even if just in the slightest. While not all characters were not as fleshed out as I felt they should be I still got a good idea of who each person was and how it is important that they are part of this story.
Despite these issues with “Scream” there is still so much to love, especially if you are a fan of the franchise, seeing David Arquette as Dewey once again put a smile on my face from ear to ear for every scene he is in. His aloofness is much more toned down and his underlying cynicism comes out after 26 years of this franchise it was nice to see his character arc continue to be fleshed out. Seeing the iconic trio on screen together again was a joy, and the veritable passing of the torch to the new generation was very well done and still full of the scares, commentary on society and fandom, which is communicated well, and confirming that Rian Johnson exists in the “Scream” universe (which means hopefully he can make a cameo at some point (and also bring along Noah Segan?!)) all made this a fun time and a return to great horror cinema.
“Scream” is in wide theatrical release.