Review: It’s a Scream!


by Jenna Prather, Staff Writer

After 11 years, we see Ghostface and Sidney Prescott return to the big screen for their fifth, and possibly final, showdown of the franchise. But does this installment hold a candle to the much-beloved original?

Minor spoilers ahead. If you want to go into this movie blind, I suggest skipping this article.

The Scream franchise is one of the only movie series of its kind to have a movie released every decade since the original; the first in 1996, “Scream 2” in 1997, “Scream 3” in 2000, “Scream 4” in 2011, and now this new one.

Released on Jan. 14, 2022, “Scream (2022),” or Scream 5, is the first movie in the series without director Wes Craven at the helm, as he passed away in 2015. Taking over for him are Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin. They do a fantastic job capturing the charm of the original as well as changing it enough for modern audiences. But there’s plenty of fanservice, references and easter eggs to be found.

The movie begins with an updated version of the original opening. Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) gets a call from a mysterious voice on the landline that asks her, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” It’s followed by a heart-pounding scene involving the locking and unlocking of doors through smartphones. It’s hard to describe, but it’s an update that works well for the tone. Sadly, though, like the original, this technology will undoubtedly be outdated in the future.

The main story follows Sam Carpenter (played by Melissa Barrera), the illegitimate daughter of Billy Loomis and Tara’s older sister. She and her boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), along with the returning characters of Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), try to figure out who’s behind the mask this time.

Keeping with the meta themes of every Scream movie, this installment plays on the nature of what they call “requels” or direct sequels to the originals with no direct continuation of the original plot but features new and legacy characters, akin to the Star Wars sequel trilogy and 2021’s “Halloween Kills.”

And keeping those examples in mind, you will notice certain directing choices, plot points and character decisions that follow the “rules” of requels.

Along with the main three, three more actors reprise their roles from previous movies. Marley Shelton’s Judy Hicks from the fourth movie and Heather Matarazzo’s Martha Meeks from the third return and (spoiler!) Skeet Ulrich’s Billy Loomis comes back in the form of the hallucinations that Sam experiences throughout the movie.

We are also introduced to a slew of new characters that come into the plot as Tara’s friend group. These include Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), the son of Judy Hicks and named as an honor to director Craven, Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), the niece and nephew of character Randy Meeks, Liv McKenzie (Sonia Ammar) and Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison).

A point in favor of this movie is that their new characters don’t feel like body bags only introduced to be killed off, as is sometimes a trope in horror, nor do they feel like needless red herrings. The cast is excellent, and they each have personalities and motives that keep you wondering, “Is it them?” Because, as Randy once said, “everybody’s a suspect.”

Unlike its slasher brothers, the Scream franchise relies heavily on its “whodunit” mystery, but to have this be compelling, you must also have a “why-dunit,” and this is where I think “Scream (2022)” falls flat.

While the whodunit mystery kept me interested throughout, throwing red herrings and too-obvious bits to keep the audience guessing, it’s only after the reveal that the moving starts to lose me. The directing and acting for the end sequence are good, but the why-dunit had me leaving the theater wondering if that was the best choice. It tries to have social commentary, that sort of meta bit of the story, but paired with the rest of the movie feels like a lackluster ending.

Like any horror movie, there are a few jump scares, “cheesy” bits and hard-to-believe feats done by Ghostface (after knowing who’s behind the mask), but you must decide yourself what ruins your suspension of disbelief. It is, after all, a horror movie.

The movie itself has a relatively low number of deaths, similar to the original, which only had six. They are probably the most graphic they have ever been, thanks to the updated special effects since the last movie, but not overly gory as some other horrors.

To wrap up, it’s a good movie and a worthy fifth installment, but I have a nitpick for the ending: 9/10.