Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenny Ortega, Jack Quaid, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Dylan Minette, Marley Shelton, Mikey Madison, Jasmine Savoy Jones, Mason Gooding, Sonia Mmare, Kyle Gallner, Heather Matarazzo, and Skeet Ulrich.
Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Where I Watched It: Paramount Plus
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Spoilers Ahead. Sorry, but we must. You may always scroll to the bottom to see what my overall score is.
The plot: Ghostface is back in Woodsboro, in a very self aware requel that centers around two sisters, Sam (Barrera) and Tara (Ortega), the latter of whom barely survives being the intended first victim in the opening sequence. When Sam finds out that her younger sister is in danger, she and her boyfriend Richie (Quaid) return home, just as Ghostface is getting warmed up. only this time, Sam has a dark secret that she’s sure the killer is attempting to exploit, one that ties her all the way back to the original. And it’s her deep connections that leads her to seek out the help of Dewey (Arquette), who eventually ends up letting Gale (Cox) and Sidney (Campbell) know that trouble is once again afoot. But this time, the rules are very different. Mostly because Wes Craven passed away and these directors don’t have his guidance.
What Works: I’m already a huge fan of this franchise, so it would be hard to make a shitty Scream movie that I just hated, and that didn’t happen here. It’s not perfect, but neither was Scream 3. I have my squabbles, and that’s why we need to talk about the plot, and why there will be spoilers.
First off, thank God this franchise didn’t kill off Tara. She’s badass, and her opening sequence wasn’t one where you keep thinking she’s breaking the rules and needs to die. She’s a fighter, even if her choices in the hospital sequence go against how smart she had been up to that point. I liked Tara more than Sam. Actually, I liked Richie more than Sam, but more on that later.
Sam as a protagonist is complicated, because of her “past”, both in the sense that her character fled Woodsboro because she was a misspent youth, and also because the film decides to randomly give Billy loom is an illegitimate daughter. Interestingly, in the original Scream, Billy and Sidney had been dating for a while, so I don’t know where Sam’s mother came from. I suppose Billy had a side piece, but they barely explain that. Realistically, Sidney should know Sam’s mom, based on that timeline, but nothing is really ever mentioned. There’s no serious retcon of that character, mainly because that mom is already dead. But still… retcon her like she was always there. The film did painstakingly go to the point of bringing Heather Matarazzo back as Randy’s sister for all of five seconds, and Skeet Ulrich so Sam can have flashbacks of the dad she never met. They needed to tie Sam in a bit better than they did.
That’s another thing this film feels the need to do is deja vu. Sam is Billy’s daughter, two of the main kids are the niece and nephew of Randy, and Amber lives in Stu’s house. If nostalgia worked like The Force, Nostalgia would be strong with this one. I’m surprised Rara wasn’t making popcorn in the opening sequence just for good measure.
So the legacy characters. Technically, Judy Hicks (Shelton) is our first legacy character to be introduced and killed off, and very little fanfare is given to the fact that she previously survived one of these films. Then, the film finally decides, when Dewey is at his most badass , that his time is up. Finally, the film does put both Gale and Sidney in danger by having them both injured, and the killers really wanting to burn everything to the ground. But, of course, they are the killers in a Scream sequel, so don’t expect much.
One little qualm I had with the attempt at pushing the legacy elements hard was that they forgot that they went out of their way to save Kirby at the end of Scream 4. In case you forgot that Kirby survived, it’s because you don’t see her, it’s mentioned in dialogue. Her death tested so poorly that they added a scene quickly that let the audience know that the best character from that film lived. Here, the best character is… well it changes.
Tara grabs you with her opening sequence, then you have Randy’s super self aware relatives, but Chad makes a fool of himself, leaving perhaps only his sister? I’m still not really sure if she’s alive or dead. And then there’s Richie.
i went into this film knowing who the killers were, and I’m sorry, but this film sucked at making that believable, and even when something might make sense, someone still has to be a fucking quick change artist. Let’s break it down.
Tara’s initial attack was obviously Amber, because Ritchie literally doesn’t live in Woodsboro. He and Sam had to travel back, so presumably he wasn’t even on the table for that scene, and it’s 100% Amber. Which is fine.
Then Sam is attacked. By Amber again? Because Amber isn’t around, and Ritchie is, but Sam finds him immediately after, so he would have to be the fastest changer in the world. Plus, don’t forget, Ritchie doesn’t live here. Anything he has on him, is in the car he is driving around with Sam. She would have access to his luggage. That means, him possessing any voice modifiers, or costumes, is really hard.
Anyone could have killed that random kid. The two Hicks attacks are weird because they could have been either, but i call shenanigans at this film, because Ritchie isn’t with Sam. These are not his friends. He’s not with her. And he wasn’t with Tara, so why wouldn’t he be with Sam? What would be a legit excuse for him to ever leave her?
The hospital sequence, that police officer could have been Ritchie, but obviously the rest was Amber. And where are the rest of the hospital employees? There’s no way this girl, even on a private floor, would be unattended by medical professionals.
That means also that Amber is strong as fuck, considering she has to fight off Dewey, a grown man who used to be well trained enough to be a police officer, and has experience in defeating Ghostface. He should have beaten her easily, I don’t know why that was even a fight.
Obviously, Amber kills the first twin, because Ritchie is in the car. The same car that pulls up so quickly that the headlights hit Ghostface while Amber is still over the body. But she manages to completely change and get out of the costume in time to immediately greet Sam, Tara, and Ritchie when they walk through the front door, in a house full of people? Where? how?
And since Amber kills Liv… what exactly does Ritchie do? He attacks some people, sure, but Amber did almost all of the heavy lifting herself. Mind you, this is a teenage girl,who the plot also never reveals how she survived being shot by Dewey, nor does she ever exhibit any wounds from being in that fight with Dewey, even though at one point she got the crap kicked out of her.
The film worked so hard at making you believe that Ritchie wasn’t a killer, that his eventual reveal ends up betraying the story. Their reason for doing the kills, is so fucking stupid anyway, and the fact that they met on Reddit, and Amber knew Sam’s secret because Sam’s mother was a drunk who ran her mouth, even though Sam had previously mentioned that her stepfather never knew all the way until Sam found out when she was 13, and then Sam’s mom swore her to secrecy so Tara could never find out. Yet somehow, this random girl knows? I call bullshit.
I’m fine with Amber being a killer, but not Ritchie. They worked too hard at making him not the killer, even if Dewey thinking he was the killer from the beginning ended up being spot on. I’m OK with the concept that he planned this six months in advance, but I’m not OK with his total lack of participation in the kills. The only real possible kill he might be responsible for was that random, but even then, where is he hiding his costume and gear when he’s spending every waking moment with Sam, because she’s supposed to be the only person he knows in the entire town that he’s not from. He has no reason to go anywhere else. What is he doing? Fucking sigh seeing in Woodsboro?
Ritchie is a shit excuse for a killer. Sorry, he just was. Anyone else would have made more sense.
But yet, it’s a Scream film, and it follows the formula perfectly. you know, none of the characters since Billy loom is, and later his mother, have ever had any real reason. only the two Loomis characters ever had a legit reason, everyone else wanted something stupid like fame. So, having shitty killers with shitty motives who aren’t in the Loomis family is actually surprisingly on brand.
It really does hit all the marks, and even when it is frustratingly stupid, or makes no sense, it’s still entertaining, and it still matches how dumb the franchise can be. Yet I still love this franchise. Call it a guilty pleasure, but there is no “What Doesn’t Work” section in this review, because even will all my frustrations, I still saw a Scream movie, that was pretty much par for the course, and that ultimately made me happy. It’s not the best in the franchise, nor is it the worst.
The Blind Perspective: I mean, I’m not sure if one of the characters is alive or dead, so… I blame the audio description for that. I might have missed it, or maybe the film forgot to solidify that, but i will later have to research if she lived or died.
Final Thoughts: The original will always be the best for me. And Scream 2 is such a perfect sequel. Scream 4 did a better job at breathing life into the franchise than this, but I can say I enjoyed this more than Scream 3. If they make another, can we PLEASE have Kirby back, and not just to kill her off?
Final Grade: B+ (this is very generous, and skewed because I love this franchise)