“25 years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, Calif., a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.”

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olphin, Tyler Gillett
Writers: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick, Kevin Williamson
Staring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Jenna Ortega
Release Date: January 14, 2022

We are back in Woodsboro, CA where a serial killer donning the iconic Ghostface mask is terrorizing the neighborhood. A group of teenagers and young adults find themselves in the midst of the gruesome violence and must join together to try and find out what its motivating this new murderer. Secrets are revealed, family bonds are tested, and old familiar faces are called upon to try and solve the bloody mystery.

Scream (2022) begins in classic fashion. Paying homage to the originally that was released nearly 25 years ago, Tara (Jenna Ortega) opens the movie as a damsel in distress. Ghostface is terrorizing her by threatening to kill her best friend if she doesn’t play along with the game. You know the game. How well do you know your horror movies?

Tara barely survives this run-in with Ghostface and now her band of merry misfits are all in the mess. Her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) comes back home with her boyfriend (Jack Quaid). High school friends Amber (Mikey Madison), Wes (Dylan Minnette), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Liv (Sonia Ammar) and Chad (Mason Gooding) all bring their brains together to try and solve the Ghostface mystery, but there are casualties along the way.

As the young folk begin to drop dead, the old faces begin to resurface. Deway (David Arquette) gets the call from the kids to help out, and soon after survivors Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott) are back on the streets on Woodsboro. With the mesh of new and old joined against him, yet Ghostface remains staunch in the quest to create terror. How many must die before the face of evil is unmasked?

So yea, Scream is a Scream movie. No if-and-buts about it.

The start of this iteration of Scream is one of the best sequences in the entire movie. Jenna Ortega shows off her horror movie chops with her face-off against Ghostface, and the screenplay writers also flex their muscles with self-referential and snappy dialogue. The vibes out forth in the opening 10 minutes of the movie are positive tone-setters. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett made the call to throw the audience off the deep-end. It is sink or swim in this horror comedy story.

Ortega is a scream queen on the rise. She has been in Netflix’s Thriller You, appeared in the Netflix The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020), earned the spotlight in Scream and is in the highly anticipated Ti West horror movie, X (2022). She is making a world for herself, and I for one will be buying plots of land on it for as long as I can.

Jenna Ortega As Sam Carpenter

No one is here to see the young faces though. The audience wants the familiar faces.

Let’s start off with the worst…and that easily goes to Courtney Cox and Gale Weathers. I never liked her character from the original movies, and her presence has not improved with years gone by. Gale’s relationship with Dewey is revisited, and therefore Cox is blown out of the water by David Arquette. The once-esteemed sheriff of Woodsboro is the best nostalgia character brought back. He plays the reluctant hero well.

Neve Campbell looks the exact same. She has not aged one bit. She has moved on past Ghostface, but the powerful draw to the protect her hometown and those afflicted by the terror she survived first brings her back face-to-face with death. Her acting as Sidney is strictly par. Exactly what’s needed. Nothing more, nothing less.

Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox as Sidney Prescott and Gale Weathers

Scream does not hesitate with its pace. From the opening near-murder of Tara, this movie blows through the plot. Characters are introduced really fast, and exposition is tossed around with clever movie references and past-movie callbacks. It is all self-referential, and it all works. If you are a horror movie fan, it is impossible to not smirk at the smart horror conversations.

The pace was good for the most part, but it bit the nostalgia surge in the bum near the end of the movie. As the audience is learning how Scream is going to unfold, Prescott and Weathers arrive at the house where the ultimate climax is taking place. This is supposed to be a crowning moment, a meeting of the giants; the survivors vs. the ethos of Ghostface. Unfortunately, the moment passes so fast, you almost don’t realize it. They get up to the porch, and boom, they are just in the door and among the chaos. If you are pinning the old characters as savors, then let the halo shine on them a bit longer.

The other major gripe I have with Scream is…its ending. I know, not the best way to close out my reaction, but so be it. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading her.

This fifth installment in the Scream franchise honors the originals beginning, and the ending. The final twist is near identical to the 1997 story. As a result, its desired impact is more of a knuckle sandwich punch rather than a TKO. For viewers who didn’t know about Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and Stuart (Matthew Lillard), they get a very similar dose with this story. If you are picking up with what I am throwing down, then you know exactly what I am typing out.

One more down-vote for Scream: what was with the flashbacks suffered by Prescott? Was anyone expecting or looking for your Billy? The random flashbacks seem like band-aids on the story to remind the audience of the trauma that that Sidney and Gale went through.

Scream scores points on its bloody homage to the original and a script that managed to retread over familiar routes but give you different bumps along the way. In the end you will get to the same destination with a massive sense of deja vu, but regardless you’ll be glad to kick your shoes off, put your feet up and point at the movie screen with a horror movie reference is made. Scream satisfies your entertainment needs, but will leave you a little chilly after thinking hardly on it.

STANKO RATING: B (3.0/5 Stars)

P.S. If this matters to you, the reader, I watched Scream on an airplane. I was on the way back to New York from New Orleans after a work trip, and I wanted a movie that would take my brain and just stimulate it and pass the time.

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