Review: 'Scream' Reboots the Classic Franchise

by Padraic Maroney

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday January 12, 2022

'Scream'
'Scream'  (Source:Paramount)

You can't keep a good horror icon down!

To paraphrase one of Ghostface's newest targets, every decade someone gets the idea to put on the mask and kill all their friends. It's a simple formula that has helped to spawn an iconic franchise, and now "Scream" is back for a new decade with new blood — both in-front of and behind the camera.

This time around, Ghostface is targeting Woodsboro residents who have a connection to the previous massacres (re: "Scream," original recipe, and "Scream 4"). When her sister becomes Ghostface's first victim, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) is called back home to Woodsboro. Trying to find out who is behind the murders targeting her sister's friends, Sam quickly realizes she's out of her depth and turns to someone who knows a thing about Woodsboro tragedies — a now-retired Deputy Dewey Riley. As tends to happen when Dewey enters the picture, things only get bloodier and messier from there.

And does the blood flow. Whereas "Scream 3" veered into a campier sensibility and "Scream 4" aimed to be — and achieved — an overall fun time, the new film re-focuses the series into trying to scare you. Ghostface is stronger and more vicious with the attacks, and there is no foil for Gale Weathers to play off as a comedic release.

This is the first film that isn't helmed by Wes Craven, who died in 2015. Taking over are Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett ("Ready or Not"), who are obvious fans of both Craven and the series as a whole. It's never more obvious than by the amount of fan service that they, along with screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, have baked into the film. Some are Easter eggs big and small that the fans will enjoy, but it does tend to get overdone at times.

At its heart, that is the overall issue with this new entry in the "Scream" franchise: It overdoes things a lot. Many of the plot points are telegraphed way before they actually happen, taking some of the fun out of the usual whodunit. Also hindering the mystery is that, despite a large suspect pool, we don't really get to spend too much time with the friend group to get to know them. More than one character gets killed before having any distinguishable character development.

Much like how the original "Scream" helped to transform Drew Barrymore's career 25 years ago, Jenna Ortega is going to break out from her role as Tara. She already has the lead in a new Netflix re-imagining of "The Addams Family," and her star is only going to rise further after people see her in the series' best opening sequence since Barrymore's.

There were always going to be some growing pains transitioning from Craven's masterful handling of the franchise to someone new. With the help of writer Kevin Williamson, the returning cast, as well as franchise producers Marianne Maddalena and Cathy Konrad, this has everything audiences have come to expect from a "Scream" film. It has jump scares, genre skewering jokes, and meta references. It just feels a little bit different.

At one point this generation's resident film geek, Mindy, explains that the killer is making a "re-quel." She explains that audiences don't want a flat-out remake or a sequel that has nothing to do with any of the other movies. Thus, filmmakers create a new story, throw in some legacy characters, and a connection to the original film. This idea, unfortunately, shackles the filmmakers a little bit. But there's enough here to scream about to warrant a sequel and see where they go next.


"Scream" opens in theaters on January 14, 2022.