Eleven years following Scream 4, Scream is finally in theaters and Ghostface is back in Woodsboro and ready to be bloodier than ever. Matthew Lillard, a name fans of the 1996 Scream will instantly recognize as Stu Macher, put it the absolute best on Twitter when he said this new installment is “a love letter to each and every” Scream fan. From the moment the movie started, it was obvious that so much passion and care went into this movie by everyone involved.
This movie isn’t just a love letter to the fans of Scream, though. This movie is ultimately a love letter to the late Wes Craven, whose passion initially sparked this franchise and kept it alive for 25 years now. Craven is so present throughout this film thanks to an incredible creative team who did everything they could to honor the horror giant and carry on this franchise in the best way possible. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and producers William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, and Paul Neinstein all very clearly wanted this movie to bleed passion.
No member of this cast misses. Jenna Ortega delivers the best opening scene since the original delivered by Drew Barrymore in 1996, with plenty of shot-for-shot references to the original opening sequence. Melissa Barrera and Jack Quaid, arguably the heads of this new ensemble, command attention while on-screen and maintain a firm grip on the audience that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The new generation of characters introduced in this movie are spectacular overall, as we get to see the generation who has grown up in the era of technology dealing with the newest series of Ghostface slaughterings, and they each bring something entirely different and new to the franchise.
Two of my favorite performances from the movie were provided by Dylan Minnette as Wes Hicks (shoutout for having a character named Wes to honor Craven) and Sonia Ammar as Liv McKenzie, who both felt incredibly natural in their roles and in the franchise. That said, every character in the main friend group and the cast members that portrayed them were phenomenal. Mikey Madison, Jasmine Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding all brought characters to life that belonged in the franchise and added to the legacy of Woodsboro. It was definitely interesting to see a group of gen-z characters living in Woodsboro and experiencing Ghostface’s antics while having grown up with the in-movie franchise Stab. They’ve all literally grown up watching movies about the Woodsboro killings, which means they should know the rules.
Of course, it’s nice to see the legacy cast of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette together again. Considering 1996’s Scream turned 25-years-old just last month, and now five movies deep into the franchise, it is increasingly interesting to see how these legacy characters are molded by their past. The legacy cast, having done this a few times now, definitely knew when to bring the emotional depth to the movie. While I love Sidney Prescott as much as the next millennial and gen-z woman horror fan, it was nice to see the legacy cast take a step back to let this new generation take the helm, but not so much to the point where they were absorbed into the background. Campbell and Cox once again make a wonderful team, no matter how unlikely the team-up.
Arquette was also able to dive into a darker, more serious look on Dewey Riley than we have historically received from the character. Dewey, who we first met as a 25-year-old deputy fumbling his way through with little life experience, blossoms into a character that begs fans of the franchise to take him a bit more seriously. This is absolutely a performance from Arquette you don’t want to pass on, especially if you’re interested in Dewey’s full-scale character development.
If you’re looking for a slasher movie with new and creative ways to stab someone, this isn’t the movie for you. Scream doesn’t need to give a gratuitous guts spilling out scene to achieve its goal of scaring its audience – it instead returns to the roots of good old fashioned stabbing and slashing. It doesn’t need more than that. Ghostface is, and always has been, scary enough on his own to not need more than a basic Halloween mask, a robe, and a Buck 120 hunting knife to be scary. In combination with an astounding score, perfectly timed and implemented sound effects and background noises, and gorgeous cinematography, the movie will get your heart racing at all of the points you want it to.
As always with the Scream franchise, though, it’s not all about the horror here. There are plenty of lines that lighten the mood (temporarily) with humor, including a line from Quaid that made me laugh as hard as Lillard’s “liver alone!” from the 1996 Scream. This movie is modern, but not overly modern. It manages to bring the town of Woodsboro to 2022 in such a smooth way and provides enough commentary on the outside world to be perfectly meta, as one can expect of a Scream film. The movie is also perfectly traditional (there’s even a Psycho-esque shower scene), but it doesn’t feel dated at all. It’s truly the perfect modern continuation of the story so many people fell in love with in 1996.
Scream was truly made for everyone who has ever been a part of the franchise – the original cast, the crew, the fans … and most of all to the late and forever great Wes Craven. Refresh yourself on the rules to survive a horror movie, and if you’ve ever been a fan of the franchise, check out Scream in theaters now.