‘Scream (2022)’ marks a return to brilliant meta form for the franchise


Paramount Pictures

Tara (Jenna Ortega) reacts in horror as she receives a phone call from serial killer Ghostface in “Scream (2022).” The film is now playing in theaters.

Noah Sparkman, Editor-in-Chief

It’s requel time.
“Scream (2022)” is the first new installment in the franchise in 11 years, and features returning cast members Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette as well as new faces to the franchise like Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid and more. The film is directed by the duo of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and is now playing in theaters.
Following a few softly-received sequels and a decade-long hiatus, many thought that the “Scream” franchise was done and dusted. Fitting in with the wave of recent franchise revivals, though, Ghostface is back.
It seems fair to say that, prior to release, expectations for this film were low. The promotional material was pretty average, and it is pretty infrequent that the fifth entry in a franchise actually materializes into anything worthwhile.
However, this new “Scream” far surpasses those expectations, delivering the best sequel in the franchise since 1997’s “Scream 2.”
As the title suggests, the film is attempting to craft a sequel to the original series while also serving as a reboot of sorts, a la “Halloween (2018),” “Jurassic World” and the new “Star Wars” trilogy.
While new to the franchise, writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick tackle this in franchise-appropriate fashion: make it as meta as possible. There is a brand-new set of rules for this “requel,” cleverly picking apart the current Hollywood landscape in a way that only “Scream” can.
All of the rules to these requels are explained to us through the horror movie-loving characters, and many do happen, but they all occur in a way that does feel distinct to the “Scream” franchise, reinvigorating the series for the current decade.
There’s commentary on toxic fandom (including a hysterical Rian Johnson jab), references to 2010s-era elevated horror and further parody on the slasher genre itself that feels like it could only exist in the year 2022.
The film is also surprisingly emotional when it chooses to be, with the legacy characters
holding a lot of weight in that regard. However, it is admirable how quickly the film manages to make us care for the new characters as well.
Vanderbilt and Busick have crafted a cast of characters that are pretty effortlessly likable, and the prospect of seeing them return in future installments is intriguing.
That makes it equal parts thrilling and excruciating when they are hunted by Ghostface, and it must be said that this is the scariest entry into the series since 1997. In the latter few installments, the horror almost seemed to be played like comedy, and the franchise began to feel like R-rated “Scooby-Doo.”
Under the direction of Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, though, the film once again finds the ability to be much scarier than many of the films it riffs on, guiding the audience through several tight horror sequences.
The use of the environment is huge here, and when Ghostface starts to attack people in broad daylight, there is a feeling of menace that I have not felt from the killer since the first film.
The scares and meta humor guide us to a finale that is both nostalgia-filled and still very fresh, culminating in that little burst of chaos that only “Scream” can provide.
By the time the credits rolled, there was no escaping the feeling that this was a wholly successful exercise in requel territory.
The familiarity of running back through all of the franchise hallmarks was an unexpected comfort, and it was impossible not to grin at all of the references to previous films. Meanwhile, the new additions to the franchise have managed to make themselves endearing in the same way that the original group won audiences over, and it is hard to not want more from this cast of characters.
It is because of this balance that “Scream (2022)” is one of the high points of the series, and reinvigorates it completely moving forward.