SCREAM (2022) REVIEW: HEAVY META
Warning: spoilers ahead
After years of silence, a new Scream emerges loudly above other entries in this revered franchise. Ironically, a creative team named Radio Silence is behind the noise. Filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella (V/H/S) bring a fresh, sharp tone that continues Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s love letter to horror. Scream is drenched in meta, sometimes to its own cheeky detriment. Regardless, the trio succeeds in making Ghostface the scariest he’s been since 1997’s Scream 2.
Long gone is the clumsy killer from Scream 3 and 4. Ghostface’s menacing aura was a casualty in the balancing act of comedy and horror in those features. Gory kills reveal a pensive murderer echoing 1996’s original threat. That’s not to say there aren’t growing pains bringing this ghoul into 2022.
Similar to the vlogging in Scream 4, distracting technology hogs up screen time. Let’s not even get into the ridiculous red light under Ghostface’s hood. Despite this, Woodsboro seems to be one of the last places on Earth with a landline. However, this movie’s biggest revelation is the person who answers that very phone.
Jenna Ortega is a sensational force. Melissa Barrera’s Samantha is clearly poised to be the new heroine, but it is Ortega’s performance that anchors each scene. Her piercing scream is the cherry on top, signaling the rise of a new scream queen. Considering Ortega’s casting in Tim Burton’s Wednesday Addams series and A24’s X, audiences definitely haven’t seen the last of her. Scream finally lands a Queer character with Jasmin Savoy Brown’s Mindy. Legacy fans should appreciate Skeet Ulrich’s return as the infamous Billy Loomis. A sentimental Dewey (David Arquette) and Sidney (Neve Campbell) once again deliver warm nostalgia. Granted, a police hero as a martyr in a POC-led film feels like a crime itself. Speaking of crime, Courtney Cox’s terrifying Scream 3 bangs even get a shout-out this time around. Don’t worry, we won’t show them.
Early scenes with Sam and Billy hint at a larger, unfulfilled theme of mental health. An attempted resolve simplifies Sam as a “final girl” with an unhinged edge. On the opposite end, Mikey Madison deliciously devours physicality and snark in the third act’s reveal. Madison’s strongest efforts still can’t help the fact that Ghostface’s unmasking is not as satisfying or fun as the journey leading up to it. Thankfully, that journey lasts most of the movie; and it’s one that would make Wes proud.