Scream ★★

The Scream franchise returns after a decade-long break in a particularly dry January for moviegoing (a few films fled for Covid concerns). I had some hopes for the quality of this fifth entry since it comes from the directors of Ready or Not. I have no familiarity with the Scream franchise, though I nevertheless dressed up as Ghostface for Halloween twice, one year because I was feeling a little old for trick or treating and wanted an older kid costume, and the second because I got invited out last minute and had nothing else to wear. Anyway, this movie wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t particularly impressed either. As a self-aware “re-quel” that brings back legacy characters, I thought this effort was weaker than the closest comparison I can think of, 2018’s Halloween. 

Last month I heavily criticized The Matrix Resurrections for its wink-wink meta tendencies. But as I understand, Scream has always been very self-aware and was sort of the series to popularize that technique, so while I found the “this is a movie” in-jokes annoying I can hardly hold it against Scream 5 that they are sticking to their roots. Still it felt like a little much as the characters continued to point out a trope or  name drop popular movies in the genre. Is the proposed solution to derivative filmmaking at this point to just point out your own weak writing and call it meta? 

I respected the gory kills in this movie, though they never really got all that creative. It felt really easy to guess the times Ghostface would appear and the times it was going for a false alarm, but at least the movie didn’t rely on constant audio blasts for its jump scares. One thing I enjoyed was seeing Ghostface get slapped around as victims fought back- it added some realism and a good contrast to Michael Myers’ ridiculous indestructibility.  

The ensemble of characters were hit or miss for me and I was able to guess the killer with strong confidence far too early. A lot of the high schoolers aren’t fleshed out enough to really care for them or suspect them. Jenna Ortega and Jack Quaid are enjoyable in their roles, but the lead is really Melissa Barrera and I didn’t think her performance was very good unfortunately. Meanwhile, we have the return of several legacy characters- Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley. I sort of wish the movie committed to making the story all about them but as it stands they sort of felt shoehorned in with the new characters taking the limelight. This was something the first Halloween re-quel balanced a lot better. Of the three returners, David Arquette leaves the biggest impression but they all fail to add much. 

Scream 5 is not an embarrassment but ultimately nothing special. I had a sort of good time watching it but it doesn’t have me eager to go back and watch the first four movies. 

Also hated to see the family in our row absolutely trash the Dolby theater with their concessions. What is wrong with people?

Alex Merchant liked these reviews