Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Written by Nick McCann
“Scream 4” was in hindsight a solid return to the series, coming at a unique time in horror cinema it was able to retain a lot of the charm and thrills of the prior movies. Despite seeming like a good ending point, we still got a fifth movie 11 years after the fact. I remember being skeptical, wondering what more this series could do and why they’d do ANOTHER return event after the last one. Luckily I was proven wrong and the series continues its streak of consistent meta-slasher entertainment.
Deja vu sets in as a new group of teens is targeted by Ghostface in Woodsboro. Directing duo Radio Silence, along with the writers, pay their tribute to the iconic original but use it to springboard some fresh ideas off the series’ popular status. Everything from toxic fandoms to “elevated horror” cinema gets called out, as well as the reboot sequel direction that’s taken hold of most franchises (“requel” as the movie tries to put it). I see it as a slight retread of “Scream 4,” but it does follow through on these undertones, and I can’t deny its clean presentation. New rules are set up and some of the direction adds to the already branching paths in the franchise. In short, a classic “Scream” mystery that keeps your eyes open and your brain thinking.
The new cast does a great job of having that likable, borderline self-aware pluckiness that goes around these movies’ ensembles. Some of the classic referential dialog doesn’t quite have the punch of the prior movies but it works fine all the same. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega embody an interesting sister duo here. I say that because Ortega is such a natural talent and goes full send on the terror she witnesses. Barrera, on the other hand, has an intriguing character angle but is barely overshadowed by her co-star. It almost makes you wonder if they should’ve switched roles. Beside them though, the classic trio returns once again! Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette have these roles down to a tee and are utterly delightful when they show up.
After a long spell of horror output that tries to branch away with a pretentious moniker, it feels good to go back to watching a knife-wielding maniac simply slice up people. The kills, attacks, and chase scenes each have high energy and intensity. There are tons of blood and makeup effects as the bodies pile up. All of which is covered with nice cinematography, using some classic tricks with a touch of modern style. Also, have to give it up to Brian Tyler who takes over for Marco Beltrami on the score. His style is a proper companion to the other movies’ music and feels prominent during most scenes.
I still prefer “Scream 4” and how they already did the whole “return of the original players and feel” angle. In a way, “Scream 5” could feel like a remake of that in a sense. However, this does a fine job of following the formula while still finding ways to keep it interesting. The kills are graphic and the characters are decent. At the end of the day, it’s always a feat to have a movie series go on this long and still have it be this fun. The late, great Wes Craven would be proud.