Scream (2022)

Quick synopsis: Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, Calif., a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past. Brought to you by the directors of Ready Or Not.

So far, this is my favourite film of the year. Belfast was technically better and is definitely more important, but this is the one I’m more tempted to see again soon. Fun fact, this is actually the first Scream movie I’ve seen at the cinema. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to watching it again with the knowledge of who the killers are. This is a film that’s REALLY going to benefit from repeat viewing. This franchise is a horror, but at its heart, it’s also a detective franchise. The audience looks at clues and tries to figure out who the killer is. It’s Poirot with pointier sticks. There are a few moments where the reveal doesn’t line up with what we’ve seen in terms of the strength and body mass of the killer. But it mostly works, it even sets up enough red herrings to catch you out. It mentions Billy Lomis from the first film quite a lot, treating him like the main killer, I felt certain that was to set up that Stu Macher would either return, or otherwise be involved in the reveal, with the motive being annoyance that he was forgotten and everybody focuses on Billy instead. Spoilers, that doesn’t turn out to be the case, but if I write a script based on it, that’s what I’m going to be aiming for, so spoilers for that.

By this point, the filmmakers know what the audience expects, and it plays with that. The opening scene has the usual violence and stalking that this franchise is known for, but the person survives. It’s clear that the directors, Matt Bettineli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, know the genre, and the franchise. There’s a shower scene where every few seconds it plays out like a jump scare is going to happen. The camera angles etc in scenes where someone opens a cupboard door mean that you expect something behind it, even if it is just a harmless character and the scare is fake. Instead……..there’s nothing. It repeats this trick more than once, and I love it.

One thing this film does which most horror films fail to do, is make the characters likeable. So often writers decide that everyone wants to cheer the deaths, and the best way to do that is to make the characters so annoying that when they get killed brutally, we’re happy, it’s cathartic to see them killed. But that means we have no emotional connection, and we’re spending most of the film stuck with characters we can’t stand. In this, even though the characters are snarky, sarcastic, and make stupid decisions at times, they’re all likeable. So when they die we’re actually sad. You’re not going to cheer the deaths in this unless you’re a sociopath, which a lot of horror film fans are.

Well, maybe not sociopaths, but a lot of film fandoms are quite toxic and hateful, incredibly resistant to any chance, or any role being played by a woman or someone non-white. This film takes aim at that and does so in a way that’s as sharp as the knives Ghostface uses. This will undoubtedly annoy certain people, but I don’t want those kinds of people to like the same films as me anyway, so fuck ’em. The killers reveal is both stupid and genius, and again, I’m sure will annoy a lot of people but I loved it. But I loved this whole film, it does so much so well. The performances are great, it’s very funny, and has a great selection of music on the soundtrack. On that note, this has the BEST use of Red Right Hand in the franchise, not the whole song, but the metallic sound effect the song uses.

So if you like the franchise, go see this. The kills are brutally simplistic (at one point he just stamps on someone’s ankle), the script is smart, and it looks beautiful. A lot of franchises have done “re-quels”, few have done it as masterfully and as true to the spirit of the original as this.

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