So far, I have not been disappointed with any of the “Scream” films. They are a great amalgam of horror, film tropes, meta analysis and comedy. The fact that these have managed to sustain themselves for twenty-five plus years is impressive. Watching each new version is also an opportunity to peek into the development process of the franchise because they put their thinking right in the script and invite everyone to appreciate and laugh at it. The movies have managed to stay this side of parody but to also enjoy some of the clear cutting that parody allows.
The previous iteration of the films was a “requel” , a term I’d not heard before but is a perfect sniglet for the type of film we are seeing. These are not reboots where the series is starting over, and the two most recent films are not direct sequels to the original four films. What we are getting is an integration of new characters with the old (legacy) characters, and a new scenario that ties back to the previous story lines but usually in a circuitous manner. In this case, we need a link to the original series of murders and the deaths in the previous film. When the resolution comes, the tie in is just adequate enough to satisfy the desire for this universe of killings to all be interrelated.
One way that the film subverts itself is in the opening. There is the traditional phone exchange and then a gruesome murder, but the the identity of the killer appears to be revealed. Will we be looking at this story with a completely different perspective for the remaining time? I won’t spoil things for you but I will say that the traditions of the tropes are respected, even as they are being mocked. I found that sequence very clever and enjoyable. The new cast, which may be referred to as the “core four”, then gets the front and center attention we are expecting. Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy, again gets to pontificate on the traditional tropes of a horror film, but then expand on the convoluted explanations that her character provided before. Everyone questions their role on the story, and people who are in on the joke (that’s you and me) get to laugh at the obviousness of some of the points and the cleverness with which we then get thrown off of the trail, and finally the realization that the film has stuck to it’s stated “rules” after all.
Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega are back as the main characters of the Carpenter sisters. Big Sister Sam is trying to cope with and manage her heritage still and the trauma she has undergone. Younger sister Tara is trying to sublimate the trauma, and that forms the early conflict in the story. Once the more active pursuit of Ghostface starts however, those sibling issues get shunted aside for the horror tropes we are looking for. Courtney Cox returns as Gale Weathers, and there is a little contentiousness because of events that supposedly happened between the two films, but that goes away pretty quickly as well.
I’m not ashamed to say that in most of the previous films, my first time through, I was fooled by the tricks and taken in by assumptions which lead to my surprise at the reveal. This was the first of the films where I saw what was going to happen, at least in part, before the final reel. In trying to play fair, the screenwriters gave one character a piece of dialogue which is a tell. If you are looking for it, you will probably see it as well. Everything won’t be explained, but you can connect the dots rapidly as the conclusion plays out. I don’t consider this a flaw in the film, just a moment of clarity that comes from having seen this form of story subterfuge play out before.
David Arquette is missed but only because his character was well beloved. Mason Gooding as the fourth corner of the “core four”, clearly looks like he will be taking over many of the tropes that Deputy Dewey had in the previous films. There is a callback moment near the end which make me laugh really hard. Some characters just are too resilient. If you stick it out through the credits, there is one more joke and good laugh to be had, but be warned, it will be at your expense.