Had it come out a few years earlier, the latest installment of the 1990’s most venerable horror franchise would likely have been called 5cream, but in keeping with the trends (a key part of the series’ appeal) it is instead simply titled Scream. The “rebootquel” (a portmanteau of reboot and sequel that is discussed at length during the movie) takes place 10 years after the events of Scream 4 and finds Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) all returning to Woodsboro, as someone is once again donning the ghostface mask and offing the town’s residents.
The movie starts with a direct homage to the first Scream‘s famous opening, with teenager Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) being menaced by an unknown caller who wants her to answer trivia questions about the Stab movies (the slasher series that exists in the world of this series, based on the characters experiences). After a strong start she winds up faltering and we are treated to a tense sequence that will have smarthome owners questioning the security of their automated door locks. One key difference this time though is that the victim survives, which leads to her estranged older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) coming home to take care of her. After she is attacked in the hospital and a suspicious man is found murdered, it becomes clear that someone is after the girls and their friends so they turn to ex-Sheriff Dewey for help.
It is very unlikely that any of these movies is ever going to approach the greatness of the first, though this is the closest that any of them has come since the second. Stepping in for the legendary Wes Craven, director duties are taken over by the team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, known as Radio Silence, with writing passed to their collaborator on 2019’s excellent Ready or Not Guy Busick along with James Vanderbilt, whose earlier films were somewhat less excellent (Independence Day: Resurgence anyone?). The new team does a mostly admirable job of keeping the suspense high and the tone similar to the 1996 original’s while bringing the remaining characters back in an adequately fan-servicey way and introducing a new group of friends to take over the reins, all without getting too bogged down. The ultimate reveal of the killer(s) ultimately isn’t too surprising and their “motive” speech is pretty cringeworthy, even by the standards of some of the earlier movies, but Scream still packs enough sardonic thrills to leave one looking forward to the announced sixth installment. ★★★
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor