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4K Ultra HD Review: Scream (2022)

April 13, 2022

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Partway through Scream, the fifth film in the horror comedy series that somewhat confusingly adopts the same name as the 1996 original, one of the film’s new characters explains the concept of a “requel.”

It’s not a full remake or reboot, they explain, or else fans won’t be happy, but rather a legacy sequel that follows a similar formula with new characters, while having enough connections to the original film and characters to please the die hard fans. That this description perfectly fits the film itself is in keeping with the meta spirit of the franchise, which became famous for its self-referential side.

The first in the series not to be directed by Wes Craven, with the directing team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not) taking over for the late horror master, this Scream likewise copies a lot of the same beats as the first one and is clearly intended as a fresh start, while still feeling beholden to the previous four films. It’s a passing of the torch, if you will (similar to the fourth film from 2011, which was also intended as a sort of series reboot following the original trilogy).

The film sees the return of several legacy characters, including original survivor Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbel), reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), and former sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), while also introducing a diverse new cast of characters who are connected to the old guard in one way or another. But the end results are somewhat mixed, and this is far from the strongest entry in the series.

On the anniversary of the original killings, another copycat killer wearing a Ghostface mask is on the loose in Woodsboro, replicating the same killing spree from 25 years earlier that in turn inspired the movie-within-a-movie Stab franchise, which is now on its eighth instalment (a reboot that drew the ire of serious fans). The film, of course, opens with a teen girl at home alone who receives an anonymous phone call on her landline from someone wanting to play a game.

The girl is Tara Carpenter (Jenny Ortega), and the caller ominously asks the trademark question, “what’s your favourite scary movie?” Tara informs them that she prefers “elevated horror” like The Babadook over slashers like Stab. Right off the bat, this is screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick (taking over for original writer Kevin Williamson) acknowledging that how young people view the horror genre has changed since the release of Craven’s original film in the ’90s.

Tara survives the knife attack but ends up in the hospital. This brings her older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera), who left several years earlier under shadowy circumstances, back to Woodsboro, bringing along her new boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid). Sam and Richie meet up with Tara’s group of self-aware high school friends, who know the ins and outs of scary movies, to try and identify the killer before his next strike. Everyone’s a suspect as the bodies start pilling up, leading to a sort of Clue game as they try to figure out who’s behind the mask.

This is very much a modern take on the franchise. It’s no longer just landlines being targeted, but also messaging apps and smart door locks. The script also addresses toxic fandom and online radicalization, with the suggestion that the new killings are a form of “fan fiction” meant to correct the events of the latest Stab film. These are good ideas in theory, that build upon the “does movie violence cause real life violence” questions that were raised in the original films. But Scream (2022) can’t quite replicate the freshness of Craven’s films, which more effectively balanced laughs and scares.

The new characters simply aren’t that interesting, and the film is actually a bit predictable once it gets going, with a lot of Easter eggs and callbacks to the previous films that arguably become somewhat of a crutch. Despite some moments of tension, this new Scream is also not particularly scary, and its self-aware dialogue and commentary on fandom is somewhat obvious and not nearly as clever as it seems to think it is. It’s not terrible as far as legacy sequels go, and it is fairly entertaining to watch, but also no match for the wits (or kills) of Craven’s original.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

The 4K disc offers superior picture quality, and includes a handful of bonus features. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package, which ships with a slipcover.

Filmmaker Commentary: Featuring directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, writers Vanderbilt and Busick, and executive producer Chad Villella.

Deleted Scenes (2 minutes, 57 seconds): A selection of brief moments cut from the film, presented in succession with no title cards.

• New Blood (7 minutes, 33 seconds): The filmmakers and old and new cast members talk about building upon the earlier films and making a Scream movie for 2022.

Bloodlines (8 minutes, 33 seconds): Campbell, Cox and Arquette discuss reprising their roles over a decade since the last film, and how this film continues the legacy of the series.

In the Shadow of the Master (7 minutes, 22 seconds): The cast members pay tribute to Wes Craven, who passed away in 2015, and discuss honouring his rich legacy.

Scream 1996 Trailer (1 minute, 31 seconds): A new trailer for the original 1996 film, advertising the 4K release.

Scream (2022) is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 114 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: April 5th, 2022

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