Why is Hollywood so afraid to number their sequels nowadays? Or using subtitles? Back in the day studios weren’t afraid to release movies with titles like “Police Academy 6: City Under Siege” or “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan“. A number and a subtitle: it helps everyone understand which movies we have to see first to fully understand this movie. Over the last 20 years we’ve seen a whole slew of sequels being released of which it’s not clear that it even is a sequel. Halloween (2018): sounds like another remake, but is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween. The Suicide Squad; a direct sequel to a movie called “Suicide Squad“.
And they wonder why the box-office results disappoint.
Scream (2022) also goes down that route. The working title was simply Scream 5 and I think 5cream was also considered at one point even. But the end product is simply titled Scream. The same title as the first movie in the franchise. I’m not blaming people who go into this movie, thinking it’s a remake or reboot of the original. Though the floating ageing heads of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette on the general poster should inform them otherwise.
Scream is what the characters in the movie call a “requel”; not quite a sequel, not quite a reboot. These legacy sequels, as they are also called, have been a thing these last couple of years. Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ghostbusters: Afterlife being the most notable examples. The premise is simple: you insert a group of fresh faces into an existing universe. You bring back a couple of the original characters to pass the torch, and in some cases kill them off for dramatic effect. If this is done successfully, the franchise has a whole new lease on life.
As always Scream is exactly that what it is commenting on at the same time. The first movie was both a slasher and a deconstruction of slashers. The second was both a sequel and a comment on sequels. This movie is well aware of it being a requel and the rules coming with it. At the same time David Arquette’s Dewey functions as a reminder of the rules from previous movies. He brings the new young cast up to speed. Not surprisingly they have a movie nerd among them who explains the rules of the requel. This should have been Dewey’s cue to leave town, since long time cast members now have the option to go down the Han Solo route.
Speaking of the new cast, they are the political correct bunch of diverse characters you now see in almost every TV show or movie. Where 1996’s cast of Scream was a group of white heterosexual suburban teens, 2022’s Scream features a multi-ethnic cast and doesn’t forget to put in a couple of gay main characters as well. They don’t go as far as shoehorning a couple of transgender or non-binary characters in like almost every Netflix or HBO show does, but it’s pretty obvious that they are keeping up with the times.
But the new cast fails to make much of an impression on me. And two days after watching I can’t remember a single name of a character save for Wes, who was obviously named after the original movie’s creator Wes Craven. He is also played by Dylan Minette who is the most recognizable character after starring in hit shows like 13 Reasons Why. This is also the first movie not directed by Craven or written by Kevin Williamson. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett do a good job at mimicking his style and do everything to make this movie don’t stand out too much in terms of style and direction.
The story is more or less the same as the previous movies, especially the first one. A teenager is attacked by a man in Ghostface costume after playing an unsolicited game of horror movie trivia. She surprisingly survives the ordeal but ends up in the hospital. This prompts her estranged older sister and her boyfriend to return to the town of Woodsboro. She meets up with the friends of her sister and with the help of Dewey try to figure out who is behind the mask.
They also bring back Sidney (Neve Campbell) and Gale (Courteney Cox), respectively 47 and 57 each. They are so well adapted to these situations by now, that they at least bring a gun to a knife fight. They’re also able to shrug off stab and gunshot wounds to the stomach by now. They just walk it off basically, and I’m not even exaggerating.
I’m not going to spoil the identity of the killer for you, but the reveal is a cheat. The person playing Ghostface is a stuntman of course , but in the previous movies the reveal of the identity of the killers always made sense and corresponded with Ghostface’s stature. That is not the case here and some of the stuff Ghostface does is physically not possible for the person revealed to be the killer. So you’re bound to guess the killer wrong.
Scream is a decent addition to the franchise and taps into the whole requel phase we are in with ease. But it in de end it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and fails pass the torch to a new cast of characters. If there is another sequel in a couple of years and it follows the surviving new cast members, I have no choice but to go back to this movie and refreshen my memory. Because in the end, this movie is just not memorable enough.