When it comes to horror, no subgenre may be as prominent as that of slasher films. The concept of masked killers has dominated the horror genre for decades with the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween giving the concept root and films such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street taking the subgenre into new directions. Another film that became an important addition to the genre was movie from the mind of horror icon Wes Craven: Scream. Debuting in 1996, Scream brought a new concept to both slasher flicks with its meta direction and use of tropes that defined the popular genre. Scream was a hit and quickly became a major franchise with three sequels to its name. The series last appeared in 2011, which was over ten years since a Scream movie was in theaters, with Scream 4 and the series returned to a mix reception. Now, after another ten years, Ghostface is at it again with the fifth installment to horror franchise: Scream.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, Scream tells the story of a new group of teens being stalked by Ghostface (Roger L. Jackson) and the killings eventually leads to the return of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). Along with being a continuation to the previous films, Scream also takes a page from Halloween by being a legacy sequel which brings aspects like story elements or cast members back to prominence. Bringing a series like Scream back is no easy feat especially when dealing such niche concepts but there are ways to brings this franchise back to prominence; and while I am not the biggest Scream fan, I was curious to see how this new film would turn out. The result was a sequel that, despite some inconsistency, manages to bring some life to this killer franchise.
Scream prides itself for both its knowledge of horror movies as well as its commentary on current events; and this continued in the new film’s story. Like its predecessors, the plot had a sense of mystery to it that kept me guessing throughout the entire film; and some of the turns the story took were unexpected to say nothing else. When it came to meta elements, the story utilizes the concept of legacy sequels or requels as the film defines it. While this direction was an interesting aspect, it could be excessive and clashed with other elements such as the characters’ personal stories. All of this culminated in a finale that, while fitting, was anticlimactic in its reveals and this took a lot away from an otherwise thrilling tale.
As this is a return for Scream, it would make sense that cast would be full of characters with significant role to the series' legacy. The newest group of Woodsboro’s youth, who I would typically write off as an ensemble of victims, had more to their characters than I would have expected. Samantha (Melissa Barrera), the latest heroine in the series, had an investing arc to go through while characters like Richie (Jack Quaid) had a lot of personality to him. The only issue this group had was some characters could get lost in shuffle and their accusatory nature could get tiring. However, like any legacy film the cast needed its share of legacy characters, which was evident in the return of Sidney, Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courtney Cox). Scream’s big three were solid additions to be sure, but their limited appearances prevented their roles from feeling relevant and it felt as though their development needed more clarity. Last and certainly not least was Ghostface whose presence was as impactful as it was 1996 which was thanks to energetic performance from Roger L. Jackson.
Much like the story and characters, the horror of Scream was a return to form for the series. The movie created a tense atmosphere that kept things thrilling and this tone fitting for the franchise-and any horror film for that matter. Yet, seeing that this is a slasher film, one would expect Scream to be gory and brutal, and the sequel did not disappoint. While it was not the bloodiest of slasher films, the movie lived to the saying quality over quantity as its gore brought the right amount of grit to each death scene. Even aspects such as jump scares were effective in their execution though they could a little excessive-especially in one scene. Aiding the horror was the score by Brian Tyler which, while it may not have been the most memorable of soundtracks, brought an eerie sound that was more than fitting for this horror series.
As legacy films (or just sequels in general) go, Scream was as fitting as any continuation could be. The sequel had its share of issues like some inconsistency in both the plot and characters and this could be irritating at points. However, the horror film more than made up for its problems with its thrilling direction, good performances and keen sense of horror. This sequel could be seen as a new beginning for the franchise, or it could very well be the last film in the series-and I think either one could work. Yet regardless of what this film ends up being, Scream was a thrilling slasher flick that continues to cement the legacy of the Scream and its importance to the horror genre.