I’m fully aware going in that I’m the worst person to try and watch this movie. Even the first two films, Scream and Scream 2, the ones most people point out as the reasons why they love this series, do beyond nothing for me. The fan service 2022 not a sequel Scream 5? Scream 4? Scream 3?
Yeah. Not a fan.
So why am I writing about this?
Well, I don’t write about movies to talk about how much I hate them. That’d be too easy and, frankly, boring to write about. So here are some nice things about these movies: I think the idea of the first film is admirable, to send up slashers. Sure, it’s a few years too late. My issue comes in that these movies complain about movies more than me. Yes, we get how predictable slashers are. But if you know that, if you make fun of it, then you’re even worse because you know the pitfalls and willfully lead right into them.
Man, I said I was being nice.
So here you go: I liked when Parker Posey playing Courtney Cox in the third film is pretty great. I always thought Dewey was the best character because he was an everyman you could follow through the movie. Neve Campbell makes a great final girl. And I liked that the series beecame meta with the Stab movies remaking the events we had already seen in the Scream series.
The idea that the survivors of the Woodsboro legacy murders movied to New York City and are now in film school is an interesting start to this movie, as is the idea that Samara Weaving — alright, spoilers on — is the first kill, a role that Drew Barrymore started — yes, I know her boyfriend was the first kill and not her, maybe the first on-screen kill is a better choice — and has been continued by Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett in the second film, Kelly Rutherford and Liev Schreiber in the third…you get what I’m saying. As she’s an expert that teachers classes in slasher movies, you’d think there’d be more to her scene, but this movie keeps setting up the idea that it’s going to be very meta and comment on those who make and consumer violent horror and it never goes more than a cursory step in that direction. Instead of actual references and nods, it just has characters say, “That guy was really into Argento,” and we’re to say, “Wow, this movie totally gets it!” when all it gets is throwing a name out that you recognize and going nowhere with it other than that mention.
Sam (Melissa Barrera) and her half-sister Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) are two of the survivors who have moved away, along with twin sisters Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), plus Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato), Anika (Devyn Nekoda) and Ethan (Jack Champion). The hijinks have already begun, as Jason Carvey (Tony Revolori) is the one who lured Samara Weaving’s professor character to her doom and is working with his roommate Greg to finish what Richie and Amber tried to do in the last movie — they’re fans — before both are murdered by another Ghostface. There’s also a theory in social media that Sam was the real killer.
Quinn’s father Detective Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) is on the case of these murders and has found Sam’s ID near Jason’s corpse, along with the Ghostface mask used in the last film. There’s also another Ghostface — with a gun, which for some reason excited people in the trailer — who shoots up a bodega named Abe’s Snake — Abe Snake was Wes Craven’s porn making pseudonym — while under the mask from the 2011 Woodsboro killings in Scream 4.
Speaking of that movie, Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) survived that movie and is now an FBI agent. That’s right about when Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) shows up and has some exposition to let us know that Sidney Prescott won’t be showing up and it’s totally not because the producers didn’t pay Neve Campbell what she’s worth.
Campbell released this quite classy statement: “As a woman I have had to work extremely hard in my career to establish my value, especially when it comes to Scream. I felt the offer that was presented to me did not equate to the value I have brought to the franchise. It’s been a very difficult decision to move on. To all my Scream fans, I love you. You’ve always been so incredibly supportive to me. I’m forever grateful to you and to what this franchise has given me over the past 25 years.”
At the same time, Ghostface — wearing the Scream 5 mask — kills Sam’s therapist and steals her file and shortly after, kills Quinn and Anika while wearing the mask from Scream 2. Wayne is taken off the case but decides to go after Ghostface himself, just as Gale finds a theater that is a shrine to the Ghostfaces of the many Stab movies. She later takes a call where Ghostface kills her boyfriend and nearly murders her before Sam and Tara save the day.
Everyone converges at the theater — after a subway scene where Ghostface walks alongside The Shape and Pinhead costumes *– and that’s where I feel like you should see the end of this movie for yourself, as that level of spoilers would give you no reason to watch. I will say that I liked how Billy Loomis shows up.
Directed by Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett) and written by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and Guy Busick, this feels like a sequel that was made because the last movie was a success instead of because it was something people really wanted, like the last film.
The idea of the rules being discussed feel almost tossed in for no reason now, the references to other movies rememberberries at best, the idea that this many people could have all been Ghostface kind of ludicrous and this is from someone who accepts Jason being alive for so long at the bottom of the lake.
I think that if you’re a fan of these films, you’ve already seen it, posted about it, said that it’s not the best in the series and still went and saw it again. I can think of a ton better slashers and even many better meta slashers — don’t get me started on that AV Club list of twenty best — but as I’ve proved in my watches of these movies, they aren’t for me. But I’m trying to find the good in even the things I don’t always want to watch.
*Other costumes include The Babadook, Peachfuzz from Creep, Emerald from Nope, the Tethered from Us, Jason Voorhees, Samara, Kayako, Grace from Ready or Not, Chucky, Pennywise, The Grady Twins and Freddy Krueger.
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