Sunday, February 20, 2022

Scream (2022)

More than ten years after SCREAM 4 stank up American multiplexes, another sequel to Wes Craven’s influential 1996 slasher classic hit screens. Inexplicably given the same title as the original film, SCREAM brings back several original cast members, though not Craven, who died in 2015. 

Less a movie than a collection of “ho ho remember that” and “okay yeah I get it” fan service callbacks to earlier SCREAMs, SCREAM 5 even opens with a less scary retread of the first movie’s famous teaser with Drew Barrymore. This teen, Tara (Jenna Ortega), who is totally into “enhanced horror” like THE BABADOOK, survives the Ghostface attack, spurring her older sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera) and Sam’s boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) to return to Woodsboro, where Tara is hospitalized. 

While Sam conducts her own investigation into Tara’s precocious high school friends, former Woodsboro sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette, still accompanied by Hans Zimmer’s BROKEN ARROW cue), a survivor of previous Ghostface attacks, checks in with ex-wife Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), now a network television host, and Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who seems to have adjusted well to her past trauma, which includes shooting to death a close relative in SCREAM 4. 

While the veteran SCREAMers have grown comfortably in their roles, bringing authentic mileage to their characters, the newcomers are awkward and unconvincing, stricken by some awful dialogue by screenwriters James Vanderbilt (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and Guy Busick (READY OR NOT), the worst of the SCREAM series. With Craven gone, SCREAM 5 is in the restless hands of co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, whose superior READY OR NOT is, oddly, more faithful to the mix of scares and smiles in the original film’s DNA than this dismal sequel. 

In the middle of the dull fan service and lazy plotting (the people of Woodsboro are remarkably incurious about police sirens blaring during the day in quiet residential neighborhoods) is Arquette’s remarkable performance, projecting human pain, loss, and regret in a movie that frankly doesn’t earn it. Long live Deputy Dewey.