The fifth instalment in the Scream franchise, and a self-described “requel” that relaunches the series while following directly on from 2011’s Scream 4, once again focuses on the town of Woodsboro, where a new Ghostface killer emerges, 25 years after the first killing spree. Teenager Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and her younger sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) are at the centre of this latest spate of attacks, seemingly being targeted by the slasher, and Sam is forced to reckon with her troubled past and her place in the town’s bloody legacy in order to protect her family.
Much like the other entries in the series, Scream is heavily metatextual, exploring the ways in which horror films – and the people who watch them – have changed since 1996 with a playful sense of humour. At times the writing can lay its messages on a bit thick, but for the most part, it’s self-aware about the way it leans on the fourth wall, and the fun the script has with horror tropes generally doesn’t interfere with the narrative flow.
There’s a good balance between old and new, with legacy characters being sprinkled in to tie this story to the previous instalments while giving the newcomers enough space to shine on their own. This is a real love letter to the Scream series as a whole, but it’s also accessible and can be enjoyed by people who haven’t seen the preceding movies.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a slasher film without the slashing, and it more than delivers in this regard. There are a lot of suspenseful, creative fight scenes and grisly kills, with cinematography that plays with the audience as the Ghostface killer plays with its victims, managing to create a consistent sense of tension without relying on cheap jump-scares. This sense of dread is bolstered by the classic Scream “whodunnit” formula, which makes even the most innocuous scenes feel unsettling and dangerous.
Overall, Scream is a solid addition to the beloved franchise, delivering snappy and intensely tongue-in-cheek comedy, inventive and bloody horror and genuinely compelling character studies in equal parts, making for a multi-faceted and thoroughly entertaining cinematic experience. The heavy metatextuality might turn some moviegoers off, but for audiences with a greater tolerance for the occasional poke at the fourth wall, it’s sure to be an absolute scream.
Scream is released nationwide on 14th January 2022.
Watch the trailer for Scream here: