Scream (1996) is my favorite scary movie, and I would be thrilled to have a new installment every decade as long as Neve Cambell and Courteney Cox are willing to come back. I mean, Jamie Lee Curtis is still doing Halloween movies. The fifth Scream movie, titled the same as the first as part of its commentary on “requels,” brings Ghostface back to Woodsboro 25 years after the series began.
Essentially, a “requel” is a blend of a reboot, a remake, and a sequel, introducing new characters and stories while also bringing back “legacy” characters and tropes from the original. In the case of Scream, this movie introduces estranged sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), who reunite when Ghostface attacks Tara in an attempted murder eerily similar to the start of the original serial killings (think Drew Barrymore). As the killings escalate, Sam, her boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), and Tara’s friends, Wes (Dylan Minette), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Chad (Mason Gooding), Amber (Mikey Madison), and Liv (Sonia Ammar) are all in danger.
The murders also draw Dewey Riley (David Arquette) onto the case and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) back to Woodsboro, despite promises to stay away.
Scream 4 spent a lot of energy commenting on the sexism baked into the slasher genre and the “final girl” trope. Since then, myriad books and movies have also focused on the final girl. Recently, the novels The Final Girl Support Group and My Heart is a Chainsaw provided meta takes on final girls with more reverence and imagination than Scream 4. I was glad to see that Scream 5 almost entirely avoids commenting on the final girls. Even better, I’d argue that this movie gives us four of them. There are so many women connected to the mystery and helping each other survive that focusing on Sam as the main character feels pointless and contrived.
The writing for this movie does neglect a few significant plot holes, particularly involving the timeline, but otherwise, the story is full of Easter eggs and fun twists, rivaling the first movie. Like the original movie, this Scream is clearly driven by a love for the slasher genre, and that fun, morbidly affectionate tone dovetails nicely into the film’s critique of toxic fandom. When the killer is unmasked in the end, they exclaim that they were “radicalized” on message boards. It is as clear a critique of the narrative that fandom leads to violence as the original Scream’s criticism of the notion that violent movies lead to violent behavior (which is to say, not that clear). The movie, however, does not let fans off the hook when their obsession leads to gatekeeping behavior and, well, murder. All this cultural critique is done with a light hand alongside jokes about “elevated” horror and the sillier aspects of the slasher genre.
The movie also comments on the nostalgia fans feel about scary movies and the memories made through watching them while serving up a heavy dose of that nostalgia by bringing back Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. It was fun to see the gang back together again while Arquette also gives a surprisingly moving performance.
Melissa Barrera was wonderful in In the Heights, but in this movie, her acting comes across as forced and melodramatic, especially in comparison to Jenna Ortega, an incredibly talented and natural actor. It does not help that the writers gave her character hallucinations that added little to the plot except for cheesy distractions, but overall, her performance is the weakest link. Otherwise, the cast has good chemistry and blends the legacy cast members with the new generation well. Despite the star quality of the original series actors, Jenna Ortega delivers the best performance of the bunch. Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin, the niece to late, beloved Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is a charming, funny, but cool heir to Randy’s role in the series.
Despite some uneven acting and gaping plot holes, Scream is a fun, worthy entry into the Scream series. Scream (5) was written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. It runs 1 hour 54 minutes and is rated R for being a slasher movie.