Scream 2022 Review: Reinventing the Squeal In This Sequel (or) Reboot
When Scream premiered in 1996, it brought with it both good and bad things. The good was a solid franchise comprising the movies that followed it. (And on a personal note, my favorite final girl of all time.) The bad was basically any meta-horror outside the franchise that followed. But time and horror has changed a lot since then. We’ve gone through several different trends in horror, like the post-9/11 torture porn years and that period where they remade a bunch of Asian horror movies. The newest iteration, as I’ll discuss in my Scream 2022 review, finds itself, like us all, in unprecedented times. Also, we look at whether or not this Scream movie is a sequel or a reboot or both.
Two Major Forces at Work In This Movie – Horror Trends and Film Snobbery
Before we get into the review of Scream 2022, we should talk briefly about two big influences on film right now. First, there’s the current trend, what’s popular in horror at this second. The 2010s ushered in the smart horror, or as they refer to it in Scream 2022, the elevated horror. Think the output of directors like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers. This film refers to works by both, and so did I in my review of The Lodge.
Black Phillip, the GOAT of elevated horror, image via A24
There, I classified them as atmospheric horror, which is yet another term you could use. But in any case, these movies, and others, like It Follows, are typical of the subgenre. They may be just as gory and disturbing as their slasher film predecessors, but these movies have class, baby. They get respect. Elevated horror films even get awards, and not just genre-specific ones. I’m talking trophies from high-falutin’ critics’ associations.
These critics generally don’t consider a Scream sequel or reboot for the same prizes. Scream movies are popcorn flicks, the kind that film snobs don’t consider cinema. And that leads us to the other big influence on movies today, the internet hive mind. Whether the mass is hollerin’ at Martin Scorsese because he doesn’t consider cape movies art or they’re upset because a woman (!) is in a movie (!!!), it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the great egalitarian experiment of the worldwide web has only heightened the drama in our interactions. We can’t just disagree anymore—instead, we must try to cancel each other, while crying about the deleterious effects of so-called “cancel culture.”
Stages of a Toxic Fandom:
1. I love this
2. I own this
3. I control this
4. I can't control this
5. I hate this
6. I must destroy this
— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) June 1, 2017
And when this hysterical self-seriousness is applied to pop culture, then it often becomes a hostage situation. Make the movies we want the way we want them. If you don’t, then…this is such a nice movie you got here. It’d be a shame if it bombed (and your cast and crew were harassed online).
But that, of course, is the least offensive thing toxic fandoms do. If you’re a marginalized person who becomes the target of a toxic fandom, then you can expect anything from simple harassment to full-on doxxing and death threats. (And yes, this behavior is not limited to movie fans. It’s also relatively mild when you compare it to, say, the behavior of a sasaeng, the term for a K-pop fan who will go to any lengths, including criminal, to gain an idol’s attention. All of it still sucks, though.)
The Plot References Previous Scream Events and, Of Course, Horror Movies In General
(Note: I’m going to try to discuss the plot without dropping major spoilers. It’s hard, though, to avoid spoilers entirely unless I write only “A person or persons in a Ghostface mask kills people.” So, I won’t mention too much outside of what the trailers show.)
A person or persons in a Ghostface mask kills people. I mean, obviously. That’s the basic blueprint for any Scream movie, sequel, or reboot. But to be more relevant to this Scream movie, we should meet some of the people who may or may not die.
image via Paramount Pictures
As you might have seen from the trailer, it starts with Tara (Jenna Ortega). She’s a Westboro teen just trying to live her life when the trouble starts. She’s not a particularly huge fan of horror movies, or at least, your classic slashers. That means that she prefers The Babadook to Stab, Scream’s in-movie franchise.
I mention Stab for the same reason that I mentioned toxic fandom. In the world of the movies, as in real life, the Stab franchise has continued. However, the number of films in its franchise have surpassed the number of real-life movies. And they’re getting kind of long in the tooth. That’s another way of saying that fans didn’t really care for the last installment.
We find this out from Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who’s our Randy (Jamie Kennedy) analogue. She explains that the eighth movie disappointed Stab stans for a number of reasons, including the fact that it strayed too far from the original storyline. In addition, fans didn’t like that the filmmakers simply titled it Stab, instead of Stab 8.
If this all seems a little meta–this should be the review of the last sequel Scream 5, not the review of Scream 2022 — then of course it is. Just as with the previous movies in this series, Mindy and others discuss how this film fits into the storyline of the previous movies’ killings. Mindy says that the consensus is that to make a course correction, we need a reboot/sequel combo, like Halloween Kills. It continues the original storyline, but also sets up new characters for future plots.
And you can see how this would apply to the Scream franchise, even if it, too, wants to soft reboot the franchise. Despite my deep and abiding love for the only queen I recognize, Sidney THEE Prescott, I recognize that she (and Neve Campbell) might not want to do this forever. Sidney has kids now, after all. She can’t just keep dropping them and her husband every time some ding-dong wants to make the news.
That’s where a character like Samantha (Melissa Barrerra) comes in. Tara’s estranged sister, Samantha returns to town with her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) in tow after Tara’s attack. Returning, however, will force Samantha to confront some secrets she’d tried to leave behind. Are they Ghostface mask-sized secrets? I’ll never tell.
Scream 2022 Review – It’s Both a Sequel and Reboot
image via Paramount Pictures
As with any entry in the series, there is a lot to like here. For example, Scream movies have always been cleverer than many horror movies. They’ve certainly been smarter than any meta-horror wannabes that they inspired. So first off, it’s just as fun and compelling as any of the movies before it.
And with its focus on the meta, it has a lot of fun playing with the “rules” of slasher stories. As a character points out, for example, Richie as Samantha’s boyfriend is an obvious suspect because he’s the love interest. But then again, everyone is an obvious suspect. These movies have capably created a world where anyone, including the core three of Sidney, Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Dewey (David Arquette), could plausibly be the killer.
Speaking of those three, their time in this movie is smaller than it’s ever been in the franchise. They’ve gotten older, though, and tired of the constant demands of battling would-be famous killers. You get the sense that this is the final round for them, and that they want to leave any future fights to the next generation.
image via Paramount Pictures
They won’t leave them unprepared, though, so it’s cool to watch Sidney and Gale try to impress upon Samantha what she needs to do. As for her character, well, she’s no Sidney Prescott, but who is? She’s a perfectly decent final girl, though, and I don’t meant that as backhanded as it sounds.
But if I were to say some less than positive things, then they would include the lack of character development in this movie. I mentioned that Sidney has a husband and kids, but we never see them and they’re barely acknowledged, especially after Sid returns to her hometown. Similarly, we don’t really get to know the new kids of Woodsboro, like Amber (Mikey Madison) and Mindy’s brother Chad (Mason Gooding), beyond broad strokes.
In addition, there are some plot holes that just don’t make sense. Like, the specter of Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) hangs over the proceedings, but no one ever mentions that his mom was one of the killers in Scream 2. And then there’s the fuzzy math behind everything. Or the fact that at least one of the kills is just impossible. And I’ll admit it, despite the discussion I had earlier, I don’t love the motive or think they pulled it off.
But having said all that, the worst Scream movie is better than a lot of other horror movies. Is this the best since the sequel, as some have said? No. But is it the worst? Also no. It’s firmly in the middle, but again, still a better time than most. If this is the last scream-round, then that would be okay. But man, would I have liked to see them try something different, fandom be what may.
Scream 2022, whether you call it a sequel or a reboot, is in theaters now.
Let us know your review of Scream 2022 in these comments or on our social media. And if you’d like to toxic fandom me, then I will meet you in a patch of Alabama forest that my great-grandmother described as “full of haint.”
featured image via Paramount Pictures
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at [email protected]