Something important to know about me: the Scream series is one of my all-time favorites. The first film is unmatched, in my opinion. The second and third films are a bit dated, but still good. The fourth one still had to same feeling as the films before it. So, that’s where my expectations were. And the 2022 Scream did not disappoint.
An absolute love letter to the original film, Scream manages to create something new, while not negating the sequels (like some other horror franchises…) which I think was such a smart move. The sequels are what connected us to these characters even more. To just nullify them would be a mistake. As the character of Mindy Meeks-Martin (yes, she is related to that Randy Meeks) points out, the film is a “requel”. It’s not quite a remake, not quite a sequel. It’s a genius move from the writers of this film, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. This keeps the film in line with the self-referential history of the previous installations of the franchise. And, the whole speech given by Mindy (played by Jasmin Savoy Brown) is spot on about everything. About the state of the horror genre today, about the toxic fandoms, about everything. She nails it. The writers nail it.
Having all the teenagers in the film have some connection to the original Scream is a genius move. With Scream 4 it was only Emma Roberts’ character that had any relation to a character from the franchise. This time, every character is connected, whether it be because somebody was their uncle or that they now live in a house that was a murder scene. It truly makes the film that much more fun, and none of it ever feels forced. Honestly, my favorite moment in the film is when it’s realized that Amber Freeman’s house is Stu Macher’s house, which I thought was an incredible touch. Throughout the film, they emphasize that Woodsboro is a small town, so it absolutely makes sense that we’d have teenagers related in some capacity to the original characters.
I’ve really started to rely on Neve Campbell’s involvement in these films as a tell to whether it’s a good script or bad script. If she’s not involved in any capacity, then I want nothing to do with it. However, I fully trust that Neve Campbell loves the character of Sidney Prescott as much as the fans do. She wouldn’t want to do Sidney an injustice. And, honestly, her improvisation of the line “I’m Sidney Prescott, of course I have a gun” just tells me that she’s still very much in tune with the character.
And, honestly, same goes for David Arquette and Courteney Cox. I think they both have an understanding about how deeply loved these characters are. They wouldn’t want to do them wrong. And, even though this installation of the franchise hurt me in regard to those two (because they had to show us that there were actual stakes to this damn film), they still showed a deep understanding of the characters they were playing.
The character development for our three original characters is most evident in this film, I think. Sidney has had enough and straight up states that she’s going to murder the person doing this because it ends now. Dewey, having already retired from the police force and being in a slump since separating from Gail goes out with a bang, as his last act is to finish off Ghostface. And Gail’s next book will be about a brave police officer from a small California town, who put his life on the line to save those that meant something to him. It won’t be about the new murders that have happened. Those murderers can die in anonymity. So, ladies and gentlemen, Gail Weathers has officially grown.
Also, thought any little character details were a nice touch. Particularly, Dewey having Tatum’s ashes on his mantle. He has never mentioned her after the fact, so it was nice to see.
Okay. The elephant in the room: Billy Loomis got a girl pregnant in high school and had a child that we knew nothing about for 25 years. To break it down: an unseen character, Christina Carpenter, while in high school, cheated on her high school sweetheart with Billy Loomis, either shortly before or during the original Woodsboro Murders. She got pregnant and kept the affair a secret, telling her soon to be husband that it was his child. Samantha Carpenter (our new final girl) finds out later that the man she thinks is her father isn’t, and that she is the biological daughter and granddaughter of serial killers. Sam quickly left Woodsboro, understandably, but left her younger sister Tara there to fiend for herself. And that is why their relationship is strained when we enter the story. Now, it’s completely believable that Billy Loomis knocked up some girl in high school. I mean, the dude was a horndog. But, to never have it mentioned in any capacity is unbelievable. The character of Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) even states that they live in a small town and everybody knows everything about everyone. So how have we never heard about Billy Loomis’ illegitimate love child? Also, the only thing that felt like it didn’t fit was Sam’s hallucinations of Billy Loomis. I mean, it was nice to see Skeet Ulrich again, but it just didn’t flow.
But, hey, that’s literally my only complaint with the film. The only one.
I was just as excited as I was for every other film to find out who the killer or killers were for this film. The Scream franchise has really thrown some plot twists in our faces over the years, and I never seem to be able to guess exactly who turns out to be Ghostface. And I find that to be the fun of the film. It was clear that Scream was a love letter to not only the franchise, but to the horror genre as a whole. And, most importantly, a love letter to Wes Craven. May he rest in peace.