A decade passed between what was supposed to be the end, Scream 3, and Wes Craven re-visiting his creation in 2011 with Scream 4. Plenty had changed in the horror genre and Craven found a new voice for his belated sequel. Yet despite better-than-expected results, audiences largely stayed away. Ultimately, Scream 4 was the lowest grossing movie in the series. Another decade has passed, more has changed in horror, and Ghostface is back in Scream 2022. This time directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not) take the reins from the late Craven. And the results have impressed critics and fans alike.
Twenty-five years have passed since Billy Loomis and Stu Macher’s slasher-inspired massacre in Woodsboro. After years of silence, Ghostface returns and a new killing spree begins. But this time the victims all have a connection – each one is related to one of the killers or victims of the original Woodsboro massacre. When high school student Tara Carpenter survives an attack, it bring her sister, Sam, and boyfriend, back to the small town. But Sam has a dark secret and as the bodies pile up she turns to past Woodsboro survivors for help.
Scream 2022 Carves Out New, Timely Meta-Commentary
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett know their way around horror. And it immediately shows with the kind of opening scene that has in part defined the franchise. Nothing will compare to Drew Barrymore’s shocking introduction (and quick exist) in the original Scream. Still Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett deftly set up scares while making clever use of technology upgrades since 2011. Franchise callbacks – including a return to Stu Macher’s house – don’t overcrowd new ideas. Moreover, Ghostface finds an edge that builds on where things left off in Scream 4. In Scream 2022, the kills feel more vicious than prior sequels.
While there’s some jabs at elevated horror, Scream 2022 largely takes aim at toxic fandom.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Scream movie without some meta-commentary. Fortunately, in the 10 years since the last installment, the horror genre, and general movie landscape, has changed. As such, writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick have plenty with which to work. While there’s some jabs at elevated horror, Scream 2022 largely takes aim at toxic fandom. Over the last several years, fan responses to divisive series entries – from Game of Thrones to Justice League to The Last Jedi – have pulled back the curtain on the dark side of fandom. Besides its timely relevance the theme adds fresh motive for new killers. And a sly reference to the ‘Knives Out guy’ directing Stab 8 is the kind of inside humor we expect. Vanderbilt and Busick’s references to legacy sequels also gives Scream 2022 a clever shake-up to the familiar story.
Scream 2022 Brings Back Legacy Characters While Introducing Fun New Faces
Another way Scream 2022 finds new life in the franchise is both in its introduction of new characters and the way in which it balances fresh faces with legacy characters. In fact, the sequel wisely spends most of its time with these new characters. As sisters Sam and Tara, Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega (You, The Babysitter: Killer Queen) fit extremely well into the franchise. Jack Quaid brings a bit of quirkiness and humor. With Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown’s (Sound of Violence) as the Meeks-Martin twins, the franchise feels like it it’s in good hands. The story in Scream 2022 – and its conclusion – certainly opens the door for more sequels.
…the sequel wisely spends most of its time with these new characters.
But our legacy characters do return. And Scream 2022 uses them well with David Arquette’s ‘Dewey Riley’ serving as the emotional core that brings back Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox. If the movie belongs to the new faces, there’s still something very satisfying watching these characters get to kick some ass in the finale. What doesn’t work quite as well is Skeet Ulrich’s inclusion. Though Samantha’s Carpenter’s familiar connection to Billy Loomis adds a wrinkle – and possible sequel direction – the visions she experiences of her dead father feel forced. There’s also a feeling missed opportunity with Matthew Lillard’s ‘Stu Macher’ barely namedropped despite his old house playing a pivotal role.
Scream 2022 A Strong Sequel … and a Promising Future
Maybe the Scream franchise just found the right formula for success – wait about 5 or 10 years for each sequel. Aside from an over-stuffed plot, Scream 3 really had no reason to exist. But Scream 4 found new targets in the horror remake craze and Millennial obsession with fame. Now Scream 2022 re-invigorates Ghostface with some biting criticism of toxic fandom and legacy sequels. Oh, and Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett bring the expected dark humor alongside some decent scares and vicious kills. And as nice as it was to see legacy characters return, the new faces ensure the franchise is in good hands.