Scream 5 (2022)

You know, Radio Silence, who directed and produced this movie (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are the directors and Chad Villella produced), made the rather wonderful Ready Or Not, so I was pretty excited about seeing where they would take this film. And then I remembered that they also made the frustrating Southbound, a movie that for all its good moments feels like it just doesn’t fully connect for me. And then I recalled just how much I’ve disliked every Scream movie because they make a very fundamental error: As they dissect the slasher rules, they never seem to do anything but fall into the very same errors and on the rails rules that they decry. It’s one thing to point out the silliness of this genre, but if you’re not going to do something new and — even worse — if you’re going to point out something is dumb and then just do it all again despite proclaiming that you’re above this silliness, you appear even dumber.

Well, fool me five times now and I feel incredibly dumb for watching this.

Written by James Vanderbilt (who also scripted The Meg and Ready Or Not) and Guy Busick (Stan Against Evil), it feels like this movie exists simply as fan service for those that enjoyed the past films without breaking new ground. And I can hear fingers pounding back on keyboards to tell me that slashers don’t and that I expect too much from them, but when your entire franchise is predicated on changing up the game and you just repay the game save for a mention of elevated horror, you deserve to be found wanting.

Twenty-five years after the original Woodsboro murders committed by Billy Loomis and Stu Macher, another Ghostface appears and starts killing a group of teenagers connected to the original killings, with Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) as the first attack.

She survives, which brings her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) back home. Sam has a secret, as after she is attacked by Ghostface, she reveals to her sister that she has been having hallucinations of Billy Loomis, who is her biological father. When she blurted this fact to her mother, her father overheard and this caused their divorce.

To find out who the new Ghostface is — it could be Sam’s boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid, son of Dennis and Meg Ryan), Wes (the son of Sheriff Judy Hicks, played by Dylan Minnette and named for series director Wes Craven because nothing in these movies can be non-obvious, including a house having an Elm Street address), Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison, Sadie Atkins in Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood), twins Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad’s girlfriend Liv McKenzie (Sonia Ben Ammar).

The main narrative of the film is how Hollywood remakes or reboots beloved franchises and how Stab 8 has ruined the series, so it must be restarted in real life, which brings Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) back once again. Other than the reveal that Prescott is married to Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey), one wonders why they feel the need to come back for another run through this movie. Unlike other slashers, Sidney and Gale are the ones that get as beat up, stabbed and abused as Jason does, yet they keep coming — almost inhumanly — back for more.

How much of the movie is fan service or a throwback or a callback or a homage or just outright making an incredibly similar film? I can’t figure it out myself, other than to say that I spent weeks debating even writing this because I really know that these movies are not for me, but perhaps I’ll feel like I’ve exorcized the time I wasted on it by pounding on these keys.

The really weird thing is that the movie makes a big deal out of the mother of Sam and Tara and then just ignores it. Then again, Bettinelli-Olpin said, “She was definitely in the script. But it just never made the cut. It felt like we were kind of opening the movie up too much and making it not as much about the sisters…It’s hard to say, but it sounds like there’s an interesting story there.” Or, you know, it’s a plot hole.

I don’t know. I shouldn’t read Twitter when movies come out, because folks celebrated this like the Second Coming. And it’s just OK. I mean, it spoils the major twists all by itself, almost second guessing its twist by making it be the truth instead of a fake out. And I don’t know if it’s the digital ARRI Alexa Mini cameras, but this felt more like a direct to streaming film than a major theatrical feature, at least in look and feel.

And look, I don’t want to spoil anything, but Ghostface’s plan is ridiculous, nearly depending on a character not having an extra inhaler or being able to get one from an all-night pharmacy. It’s so much demands exact planning over months, if not years, that hinging the final blow on something that could go either way feels completely nonsensical.

But yeah. This movie is the very definition of not for me. There’s a ridiculous amount of Easter eggs for fans of the series, though, to the point that it distracted me instead of being fun, but if you find these movies your cup of tea, well, you were probably tweeting them out in the theater one assumes.

They’re already planning a sequel, so you can plan for me to write just about the same things, like how everyone claimed that the new leads breathed new life into the series while I wondered how cardboard cut-outs could breathe, and I should really just get back to writing about Golan, Globus, Mattei and D’Amato.

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