Reboots of horror franchises have been happening for years – Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Prom Night, Child’s Play, Black Christmas…. The list goes on and on. Then, there came an idea that you could reboot a franchise with old material and the original characters: Enter Halloween, Exorcist, Saw, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The idea is that you only take part of the franchise and use it as continuity while ignoring the sequels. Enter Wes Craven’s killer franchise Scream, but the question is… Is this sequel a requel?
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!! DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID THEM:
Scream is a film analysis of horror films. and their current state. The concepts, the rules, and what makes horror movies so possible. With Wes Craven as the director and Kevin Williamson as the writer, the films have stretched for four installments, spanning over 26 years. But once Craven passed away in 2015, the franchise’s existence became uncertain.
Scream has maintained a focus on who the killers are and why. It essentially started as a revenge plot against protagonist Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) then continued onto people leeching off it for fame. Much like we see in horror franchises all across the board. The killers have ranged from Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis, Billy’s mother, Sidney’s half-brother, and her little cousin. They all had some kind of vendetta against Sidney, and they killed people she knew and cared for to get to her; several times. The course of the series is traumatizing, but also entertaining. There is a comedy to Scream, it makes fun of horror films while being a horror film. Not in a Scary Movie way, but in a way only a genius like Wes Craven could.
Even though Craven and Williamson do not return, the filmmakers of Scream make sure to maintain the spirit of the series. Where this film differs from its predecessors are the subjects it wants to deconstruct: requels and toxic fandom. This new Scream came with a lot of fun twists and turns with a ton of fan service. The only thing is, in requels you forget the past for the most part and while this Scream attempts that… You can’t escape the past.
Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by none other than our favorite horror resident Ghostface. Unlike every other Scream film, our first girl survives. Drawing her older sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera) back into Woodsboro, the place where it all began. Now, Samantha goes to our favorite Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) for some help; since he’s dealt with this before. Dewey meets them at Tara’s friends’ house – twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) Meeks-Martin. That’s right, Randy Meeks – Jamie Kennedy’s character from the first few Screams – has a niece and nephew! We also see that Tara is friends with Deputy Judy Hicks’ (Marley Shelton) son Wes (Dylan Minnette). So, we have a new gang of kids related to the original victims of the previous FOUR films, and not just the original film. This will be important later…
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!!!!
Sam is the daughter is our original primary killer, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). How did that occur in the time span of the original film? I have no idea, but hey I’m all for a good mess. Sam constantly sees her father throughout the film and takes meds throughout the film to help her. They seemingly do not work, so this may lead some to believe Sam is the killer. Now, we insert our other important players: Tara’s best friend Amber (Mikey Madison) and Sam’s boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid).
Now, how do Sidney and Gale (Courteney Cox) get involved? Well, Dewey contacts Sidney about the new Woodsboro attacks, and Gale is sent down by her producers to cover the story. Dewey doesn’t want Gale to get involved because of how dangerous it is, and Gale just can’t help being a reporter.
Vince Schneider (Kyle Gallner), Stu Macher’s nephew, is our first kill. Wes and his mother Judy have some pretty gruesome deaths as well. Then, when he finally becomes useful, Deputy Dewey dies one of the greatest deaths in Scream history. Which leads Sidney – now a mother – back to Woodsboro in order to protect her family. The film of course leads us back down a path to the final party at none other than Stu Macher’s house now occupied by Amber’s family.
Chad falls to the blade of Ghostface, as does Mindy. Then we get our big albeit kind of wonky bit of a reveal. Amber kills Chad’s girlfriend Liv (Sonia Ammar) and then after going back and forth on if it’s Sam or Tara, Richie reveals himself as the second killer. They explain they met on Reddit and plotted on luring Billy’s daughter down to create a requel, a reboot-sequel. While the movie they discussed sounded amazing, it also proved the film’s point. Toxic fandom is never a good thing, liking a film is great, obsessing over it is not. Richie and Amber go out in a fired-up, knife-bound, blaze of glory, only to be buried beneath Stab fandom forever. Oh, and the twins live (breaking a ton of horror film rules but I’m owed for Scream 2).
The film itself is a very fun ride and an amazing peak into toxic fandom. Ready or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet fully understand requels and Scream. The film is paced well, but James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick’s script kind of falls apart towards the end. I unfortunately picked one of the killers out in the middle of the film, and the Stu Macher house reveal confirmed it. Also, while Mikey Madison was absolutely fantastic, the reveal didn’t wow me like past films. That anxiety and “Oh My Gosh!” moment didn’t happen for me. Which sucks because I enjoyed the film so much.
Also, this didn’t feel like a requel to me. Rather, it felt like a sequel making fun of requels. Sure, there were plenty of aspects of a requel sprinkled in, but the continuity was too consistent. They didn’t ignore the past, they integrated it, and if that was the point – fine. Don’t pour a gallon of water on me, and tell me it’s rain though. The point of Scream is to be exactly what it’s making fun of. The vengeful boyfriend or mother, the upset forgotten child, or the rebel boy and little cousin. Were the fans toxic? Sure. But there was just too much continuity for me to call it a requel. Which is fine, but again just be honest with yourself in your art.
Overall, I enjoyed this film. I thought it was clever and fun for the most part. I can get over the things I disliked because what I did like outweighed it far more. Jenna Ortega definitely is great successor to Neve Campbell. Chad and Mindy are great as the next evolution in Meeks horror connoisseurs, and the fun looks like it’s only beginning. While Wes and Kevin Williamson weren’t directly involved with this film like the first four, you could still feel their presence. The gore show must go on, and the analysis Scream provides on horror’s current state will always be appreciated. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Scream (2022) is currently in theaters!