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Scream
 
Year : 2022
Country : United-States


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DokBrowne  [ 8.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

After 2 decades and a couple mediocre sequel chapters (part 3: fun but out of ideas) (part 4: all-around bankrupt), the "Scream" series finally punctures again with more than a flesh wound with refreshed concepts, riskier moves, smarter pop culture references, a rookie ensemble that buzzes with personality like the gangs did in the first two movies, playful whodunnit trolling, and a surer sense of itself. Yes, it's copying the outline of the original in a hundred little ways, the legacy-quel striking again (which the movie nerd character in this movie tries to coin a new name for: "requel", but I mean c'mon we already have a way more clever portmanteau for it. I imagine nonetheless that "requel" will catch on over time). Heavy callbacks to people, story structures, specific incidents and exact settings from the past are all over this thing, but good writing weaves most of this stuff organically into a new set of circumstances, and the closed-loop self-referentiality baked into this series from the very beginning (copycat killers, film history itself inspiring the events of the film, Randy watching a masked killer creep up on Jamie Lee on TV while we watch a masked killer creep up on him on a live feed) makes it easier to justify the constant reminders of classic "Scream" iconography without inducing groans. Makes it kind of ideal, even. I wonder if any other franchises have the foundation to pull it off this well. "The Matrix" definitely did not.

But it couldn't have been easy, so props again to the writers and directors and whoever else helped construct it for showing more of an effort this time than the last couple. They throw in unexpected changes (a victim not being killed off but instead hospitalized, "Red Right Hand" played during a murder scene for once, genuine tension in scenes between two people where you don't know which person is the killer but one might attack at any moment) and come up with pretty believable motives for most of the cast so you can't figure out the ending ahead of time, even though I think there are clues about the whereabouts of certain people at key times that will be rewarding to look back on in re-watches. And that's another win here, that it makes you want to see this again with all the rapid-fire dialogue about movies (including one big monologue in the middle), some funny exchanges with charming characters, the taut set pieces, and the three-card monte of misdirection about who the bad guy is. The first two "Scream"s had immense replay value for the same reasons.

They do right by the old guard too - Arquette, Campbell and Cox still resemble Dewey, Sidney and Gale in how they talk and behave, and the pathos of how far they've come runs deeper than ever. Extra bittersweetness flowing through scenes of Arquette and Cox lamenting their failed marriage, naturally. Nice to see that Cox still has a way with quips, Arquette can still be adorable, and Campbell exudes the maturity and strength of a survivor but one who isn't broken by trauma. Also a toast to Roger L. Jackson's voice-over work, it's arguably better than ever with more variety this time.

The new generation grows on you throughout the film, to the point where you either wish some of them wouldn't have to die and/or enjoy their off-kilter energy. Highlights for me would be Jasmin Savoy Brown as the replacement Randy know-it-all and Jack Quaid because he knows how to sell any old line.

Acknowledgement of shortcomings: there's a long dramatic scene explaining family back-story about a third of the way in that is written and acted like a cheesy soap opera. Some of the violence has escalated in brutality but still seems like they're cutting away from most of it too quickly as though the MPAA was breathing down their necks (not the movie's fault really, but a nuisance anyway. I want to revel in gore). Sidney says something about "let's finish this once and for all" but there could always be new psychos trying to take up the mantle again; what makes this episode so conclusive anyway? And without spoiling anything, the surprises at the end are adequate but beyond providing masterful motive that ties the franchise together, aren't particularly memorable. None of the "Scream" sequels have ever upped the game in terms of who the killers are, like by dramatically altering the first movie's formula, but I keep hoping one of them will. I mean the series ethos is kind of about breaking down well-worn genre tropes in order to build on them. Or maybe I just wish it was. You'd think they'd go crazy and do something wildly different with all the finales, but no, not even this time. Maybe "Scream 6".

In summary, "Scream 5" (as it must always be regarded) accounts for itself in more gratifying ways than any of its predecessors has since the '90s, extending its hall-of-mirrors meta text even further, coping wittily with advances in modern media and technology, introducing worthwhile new players, paying dignified tribute to the old ones without it feeling lamely gratuitous (a la "Ghostbusters Afterlife"), and just being a highly entertaining "Scream" movie again. The craftsmanship is to be commended. I look forward to revisiting this quite a bit.

 
Weighted Rating : 6.9
No. Ratings : 1
No. Reviews : 1


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