Scream - New Release Review
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet
Starring: Jenny Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Dylan Minette, Jack Quaid, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtneney Cox
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick, Kevin Williamson
Produced by: Paul Neinstein, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt
Cinematography by: Brett Jutkiewicz
Original Score by: Brian Tyler
Twenty-five years after the original series of murders in Woodsboro, a new Ghostface emerges, and Sidney Prescott must return to uncover the truth.
What’s your favourite scary movie? It’s the question that starts (mostly) every 'Scream' movie and a question that sparked a renewed interest into the horror genre in the mid 90’s. The original 'Scream' hit the screens in 1996 and immediately became a smash hit with its brilliantly meta-soaked script and self-aware performances by a fantastic young, up and coming cast. The director, Wes Craven, created a new horror figure in Ghostface, who instantly became as iconic as Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. A year later, 'Scream 2' was released and was a brilliant commentary on horror movie sequels. A few years later, 'Scream 3' took a jab at Hollywood itself, setting the film on the set of the latest ‘Stab’ sequel, the in-universe movies based on the events of the original Ghostface killings. At this point, it felt like the series was getting a bit ouroboros.
After an 11-year break, 'Scream 4' returned us to the murderous town of Westboro and gave Ghostface some new fresh face victims to play with. Unfortunately, audiences in 2011 weren’t interested in seeing another horror movie making a comeback, especially after having to put up with other terrible horror reboots around that time (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th etc.) So, with legacy horrors having a revival after the success of 2018’s 'Halloween', can 'Scream' (Scream 5) hit it big this time around with audiences or with the 5th instalment, will Ghostface finally be laid to rest?
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who previously directed the fantastic ‘Ready or Not’, are at the helm for this new sequel. This is the first time a 'Scream' film has been directed by somebody other than Wes Craven (who sadly passed away in 2015). In my opinion, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett do a brilliant job at honouring Craven’s legacy. The visual call-backs to the original are beautifully captured here and every easter egg to the series or other horror movies are cleverly subtle. It’s great to see the returning legacy cast of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, but their inclusion in the plot kind of feels half-baked and they’re only returning because they’re contractually obliged. Arquette is clearly having a lot of fun working with the young cast but Campbell and Cox are sadly wasted. The new cast members are certainly one of the highlights of the film. It’s always going to be hard to top the chemistry of the original cast of teens, but the new batch of school friends definitely have some fantastic banter together. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega play Sam and Tara Carpenter, respectively, and they both give very believable performances as estranged sisters. Barrera is forced to give some soap opera-esque dialogue at one point, but it almost seems like a throwback to the first ‘Billy and Sidney’ scene from the original. Some of the new cast members are relatives of some of the original 'Scream' characters, and it’ll really throw you off if you put any sort of thought into it.
The film does feature some of the most impressive kills, along with some of the most brutal. There’s not much I can talk about in terms of kills, (spoilers etc) but one kill scene does see the return of the song ‘Red Right Hand’ and as a giant Nick Cave fan, I was very pleased. The meta dialogue is sharper in some scenes than others. Commentary on recent ‘elevated horror’ films is brought up and it definitely feels like something Kevin Williamson would have put in his original scripts. The physical performance of Ghostface has always been a highlight of the series for me. His often clownish, clumsiness while chasing a victim has been a staple of the series, but here, Ghostface often moves with more menace than before, which I actually really enjoyed.
My biggest problem with the film was its third act. No spoilers of course, but I found the motivations of the killer quite clunky. Moments that were meant to feel like ‘Oh Shit!’ often just left me feeling deflated. It’s a movie that had a fantastic first 2 acts then couldn’t deliver a stellar clever ending. All the other 'Scream' movies have had me guessing to the very end, but here at the half way point, it’s clearly RETRACTED.
I went into the movie with high hopes and for the most part, I was pretty satisfied. There’s a version of this film that could have existed under different directors/writers and really turned all the throwbacks into its main plot points (I’m looking at you 'Halloween Kills'.) Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett really do make a sequel worth watching and I feel after a few rewatches, the 3rd act may grow on me. Since this is his 5th film, it’s only a matter of time before Ghostface needs to go to space...or Manhattan...it sounds silly, but I want it.
- Adam Neeson