Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
As a Scream fan, I’m at a crossroads with this film. On one hand it delivers on the kills, the phone calls and premise. On the other hand the whodunit is predictable, the motives are awful, and the new characters are stale. In this fifth chapter, Sam, the new lead, returns to Woodsboro after a recent Ghostface attack and another mystery unravels with ties to the past.
The overall film launches off strong with an eerie cold open with Jenna Ortega’s Tara. The narrative has a slow pace, with occasional spurts of excitement whenever Ghostface appeared on-screen. The references to “highbrow/elevated” horror were nice, along with its reflection of the growing trend of nostalgia sequels like 2018’s Halloween. The seriousness counterbalanced the humor, but the humor wasn’t that funny either. The story of sisters Sam and Tara was lukewarm to me, they try to give the characters emotional weight but came off as too melodramatic soap opera for my taste. The new friend group seemed to lack for me. Each character had good promise, but they didn’t seem to have that much chemistry. Dewey was the best of the legacy characters, as Sidney and Gale are fine and have fun interactions, but don’t play a major part until the concluding half. The biggest issues stem from the killer and their motive. Not only was it predictable and unoriginal, but the reasons for killing were eye rolling and didn’t fit with the themes of familiar ties or legacy.
The acting was so so, David Arquette and Courtney Cox both had excellent shreds of powerful emotion, which got me, also some of Roger L. Jackson’s best work as the voice of Ghostface. For the new cast, I guess Jenna Ortega was my favorite. Jack Quaid had his fun moments too.
The production design should be applauded for a near perfect replication of Stu’s house from the original Scream. Though I feel like we did not explore the house enough, iconic rooms like the notorious garage and the bedroom were by the wayside. There were some nice camera shots and angles. The kills were brutal and excessive but were just stabbings with no unique use of other weapons.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett know how to direct tension and fake outs that were adequate, but they don’t hold a candle to Wes Craven. Craven knew how to pace properly and have the meta humor feeling organic, whereas here it’s slow and forced at times.
22’s Scream meets but never once exceeds expectations. It drops apart for me in the last act with the reveal and “motive” that was severely misplaced. In another sequel it would’ve been alright, but it never clicked with what’s explored here. The body count was shockingly low, this made the surviving less impressive. I would like to think everyone involved wanted to honor Wes’s legacy and body of work, but I wouldn’t call this a glorious Scream film. The more I reflect about it, the less warm I felt toward this installment. Many missed opportunities for a strong mystery, underwhelming additions to the Scream world and a film that lacks the quality of a proper Scream.
I feel only slightly better with a second viewing of Scream 2022. A bunch of what I’ve said initially still stands. Most of the new characters become sidelined for the two sisters, and as a result, you barely get to connect with any of them or feel bad when they are in danger or die. The killers remain predictable with a motive that would be okay for a different film but was a total mismatch with the who’s related to who game. The Ghostface phone calls were still brilliant, along with the opening. I’m still not sold on this being a good Scream film. It had many things that didn’t gel well with me, it still is a disappointing outing for the Scream franchise.