‘Scream’ Delivers the Same Self-Aware Scares as the Original


A screenshot from the trailer for “Scream” (Courtesy of Spyglass Media Grouop)

By Megan Fisher, Arts Writer


What sets the “Scream” franchise apart from other slasher flicks is that every character knows they are in a horror movie. It’s refreshing and fun to hear the characters point out cliches that you may have noticed in other horror movies, such as why people run up the stairs when they’re in danger, and why they’re so quick to believe that the killer is dead at the end and have conversations that may mimic ones that you’ve had with your friends on movie night, such as trying to figure what horror movies’ hang up with sex is all about.

Beyond this, every character is a film buff, able to recall movie trivia at a moment’s notice and discuss the tropes of the horror genre as though they’ve read Carol Clover’s “Men, Women, and Chainsaws.” Throughout the series, characters analyze the way the sequels raise the stakes and try to figure out the effect that advancing technology has on the horror genre. Today, the conversations of the characters in “Scream” happen word-for-word on Twitter, Reddit and Discord every time a new horror movie is released.

Perfectly in Sync With Earlier Movies

This marks the first “Scream” movie that was not directed by Wes Craven, who passed away in 2015. The torch was passed down to Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who directed 2019’s wickedly entertaining “Ready or Not,” and that was no mistake.

The new installment in the franchise is in perfect synch with the previous entries. Its wickedly clever, knowing without being smug and bloodier than the others. The references to the earlier movies, in particular the first, are done with purpose and not just for nostalgia bait.

The “Scream” franchise has always pulled double duty as a slasher and a satire of the genre, and this movie is no different. This particular movie is what “Scream” terms a “requel,” a legacy sequel-reboot that ties the old and new together, like what has recently happened with series such as “Halloween,” “Ghostbusters,”  “The Matrix,” Blade Runner” and “Star Wars,” among others.

Bringing the Old and New Together

As appropriate for a legacy sequel, “Scream” brings the old together with the new. The movie begins with a voice eager to discuss horror movies with teen Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) over the phone. She names “The Babadook” as her favorite scary movie and snarkily declares her love for “elevated horror” (“They’re metaphors.”) Things turn menacing as Tara is challenged to a game of horror movie trivia. When she gets a question wrong, she is attacked by someone wearing a Ghostface costume from the in-universe movie franchise “Stab,” based on the Woodsboro Murders committed by Billy Loomis and Stu Macher.

Luckily, Tara survives, beckoning home her twenty-something sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) from Modesto. She brings along a new boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid), who has never seen a “Stab” movie. By the way, there have been eight “Stab” movies, and the latest one was particularly loathed by the fan base. It was, of course, directed by Rian Johnson. Ghostface once again running around Woodsboro, attracts the attention of “Scream” veterans Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette), who lend help to Tara, Sam and their group of friends.

With a sharp knife, “Scream” deconstructs the tropes that have begun to pop up in requels, and examines the reasons behind their existence. The movie addresses the temper tantrums that have dominated film discourse for the past couple of years caused by fans’ unwillingness to let go of the past: Purity of essence must be maintained and even tweaking a minor detail or, God forbid, introducing a new and important character who is female or a person of color, is a personal attack. That’s where “Scream” finds the horror.


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