January 2022 Roundup

Scream

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Paramount Pictures // Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett // Starring David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Dylan Minnette, Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mikey Madison, Sonia Ben Ammar, Marley Shelton

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“What’s your favouri…”

“Sorry mate, wrong number”

The Scream franchise has returned after a decade though, sadly, Wes Craven, the man responsible for the classic original and its sequel, is no longer with us to helm. Instead, Ready or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett assumed responsibility for the anticipated return to Woodsboro. The franchise has always been known for its meta qualities and genre self-referencing - it’s what made the 1996 original so iconic (amongst other things) - and 2022’s Scream continues that trend to solid effect. James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick have taken over the writing reins from Kevin Williamson and have helped to craft a fun, knowing, and, at times, very effective slasher ‘requel’ - the screenplay is packed with some real meta zingers and more than a handful of genuine laughs too. The audience comes to a Scream movie for the kills, however, and to see the return of Ghostface. Whilst it always sounds daft hearing ‘Ghostface’ uttered on screen, the presence of the iconic killer is more than felt here - this is Ghostface unleashed. Scream is littered with brutal, vicious and visceral kills that caused the audience I was in to gasp more than once - including one that ended with a fantastically chilling shot of Ghostface looming over their victim. There are also moments of genuine tension with sequences crafted cleverly to eschew cliché whilst at other times absolutely embracing them as well. The new cast were all affable enough and provided a solid foundation for the events of the movie (Jenna Ortega’s Tara and the excellent Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy were instantly likable) and the returning legacy characters all felt like they belonged. The movie continued their stories well and neatly acknowledged the lives they were leading in-universe, though I can imagine some will be upset at the screen time they received. Scream isn’t a perfect horror movie by any means, at times there are jumps in logic that defy the existing franchise rules, some of the dialogue is clunky and expository and the occasional character receives short-shrift in terms of development, but it has plenty going for it (including some killer pacing…no pun intended). Reinvigorating a franchise is never an easy task, however, Scream has shown that it can be done and can be done well. Great kills accompany great gags that accompany a decent set of characters - I had an absolute blast with Scream…in the most non-sadistic way, of course…