The latest franchise to adopt the requel approach, a proven method for keeping dying narratives alive, is Scream. Set 25 years after the original series of murders in Woodsboro, a new Ghostface killer emerges, threatening both the new residents and those who survived every other Ghostface attack.
Scream has a unique place in the slasher genre, with the meta elements of each film setting it apart from the more serious approach that every other high-profile slasher takes. What’s great about this fifth entry is that the franchise (and writers) prove they’re inventive enough to provide a fresh experience that still feels pleasantly familiar to long-time fans. It very much embraces the themes, visual style and storytelling beats that make Scream such a fun watch, while also evolving them slightly for a new generation. The meta commentary has always been a core part of each film, and that’s amplified here as it goes heavy on the meta references. With 4 previous films to pull from, and the idea of creating a requel, there’s hilarious meta commentary lurking through the entire film.
Amongst all of the meta elements lies an engaging narrative with a thrilling mystery that will keep you second guessing yourself as you try to pinpoint who the Ghostface killer is this time around. It’s a very well-paced slasher, ensuring you don’t need to wait long before the people of Woodsboro need to deal with yet another grizzly murder. To be fair, it very much follows the structure of the other Scream films, even incorporating a number of sequences that are direct callbacks to the original. In some respects, people consider recreating the structure of previous films a lazy endeavour, however I believe Scream does it in a way that comes across as an homage as oppose to a rehash. The references and callbacks are all designed to service those long-time fans, while still catering to any new fans by communicating the fact that there’s lots history behind the characters. In fact, the writers did a great job at recapping the relevant main events of Scream’s history through quick lines of dialogue and meta moments – helping as a bit of a refresher for anyone who hasn’t done a rewatch in a while.
One element that’s always been a mainstay of the franchise is the creativity of the kills. Sure, the weapon of choice in nearly every murder is limited to a standard kitchen knife, but the way Ghostface toys with his victims before death is always a fun detail that creates uncertainty as to where he is and when he’ll attack. As always, the climax is where all secrets come to light and chaos unfolds. That’s exactly the case here, with a third act that delivers tense action and acts as a great payoff for the rest of the film. As a whole, it all presents itself a nice bookend to everything that has come before it in the franchise.
Blending the OG characters with the new blood, this cast sees the return of fan favourites Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courtney Cox (Gale Weathers) and David Arquette (Dewey), alongside newcomers Jenna Ortega (Tara), Melissa Barrera (Sam) and Jack Quaid (Richie). Of course, it’s fun to see the OGs step back into their roles and go toe-to-toe with Ghostface yet again, but it’s the newbies that impress in their confrontations with the killer. Jenna Ortega is especially great in this film – certainly delivering the best performance and having some of the more memorable moments. I’ve loved her in everything she’s appeared in so far, and she continues to deliver with a performance that has you rooting for her from the very beginning. Melissa Barrera is our lead and does a pretty good job at being the one guiding us through this narrative, however I didn’t care as much for her character’s wellbeing as I did for others. There’s a neat backstory to her character, but that’s moreso a credit to the writing than her performance.
Even Jack Quaid has a strong presence in the film with a role that I initially thought would be frustrating, but grows on me with time. One character who added a tonne to the meta elements of the film is Mindy, played by Jasmin Savoy Brown. She bought some very welcome charisma to a number of scenes and plays up the fun, campy elements of the franchise really well.
In the end, after years of misfires with Scream TV shows, the franchise has returned to its former glory with this requel. It incorporates everything that makes a Scream film work, from the cheesy humour and meta slasher commentary to the brutal murders and sarcastic villain. Balancing the old and the new, this film does its best to ensure newcomers can jump right in and enjoy the ride, while giving fans enough continuity in its character and story to get them excited. Capped off with great horror performances all around, this is a must-watch for fans of the franchise and slasher fans alike.