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To borrow a question from the immortal Ghostface: "What's your favorite scary movie?" If it ends up being the new Scream movie (out this Friday, it's also named Scream), you could do a lot worse, according to the first reviews making their way online. Indeed, the general consensus seems to be that the fifth entry in Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven's slasher franchise (one that breathed new life into the horror genre back in 1996) makes excellent use of the expectation-subverting meta-textuality that made it such a massive hit in the first place.
Similar to The Matrix Resurrections, Scream (the 2022 version, that is) is well aware of the rampant sequel and reboot culture currently plaguing Hollywood. That self-aware attitude has always been deeply-infused in Scream's DNA, but now it's taken on an added meta layer beyond the usual mention of rules and tropes keeping horror movie characters inextricably tied to gruesome fates. And oh yeah, the series remains as R-rated as it ever was (per the reviews, the explicit gore on display here is more than a match for the comedy).
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (the duo behind Ready or Not), Scream 2022 takes audiences back to the town of Woodsboro, where the infamous Ghostface killer has returned to hack and slash his or her way through a new batch of teenagers. Their only chance of surviving this horror flick comes in the form of the murderer's original would-be victims: Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox).
Co-written by James Vanderbilt (Murder Mystery) and Guy Busick (Castle Rock), the film co-stars Jack Quaid (The Boys), Jenna Ortega (Jane the Virgin), Melissa Barrera (Vida at Starz), Mason Gooding (Star Trek: Picard), Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars), Marley Shelton (Scream 4), Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers), Roger L. Jackson (the longtime voice of Ghostface), and model/musician Sonia Ben Ammar.
Head below to see what critics are saying...
"The film does its best to mix Cox, Arquette, and Campbell into the heart of the action, but they feel, inevitably, like tribal elders who we’re supposed to revere because of their Scream pedigree, even as that very dynamic gets skewered with a biting reference to bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back to the Halloween series. Scream is a movie crafty enough to let you see through its tricks. But I’m not sure, in doing so, if it’s wittily postmodern or just transparent." -Owen Gleiberman, Variety
"While the new movie is laced with Easter eggs and homages to the late master, it doesn't build its sequences with the same meat-and-potatoes solidity as Craven did. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett don't have those chops yet. Go ahead and poke fun at elevated horror, but until you attain that level of technical command and depth, you're just bringing a very large knife to a gunfight." -Joshua Rothkopf, Entertainment Weekly
"Scream is a worthy, creepy, gory addition to the franchise. It plays with your expectations in a way that keeps you guessing from start to finish and gets into pockets of pop culture you are almost certainly not expecting but make perfect sense. You may love it, you may hate, it, but if you’re a fan of the series, you’re likely to appreciate it as you laugh and cheer all the way through." -Germain Lussier, i09
"Ghostface is now involving them in a 'requel' — a reboot-slash-sequel — whose purpose is to appease the toxic fandom by introducing a younger cast but respectfully leaving “legacy characters” like Riley, Sidney and Gale intact. And Ghostface is the most toxic fan of all. Perhaps there is less zap in Scream nowadays and archly invoking the newer generation of indie horror — Jordan Peele is mentioned, with absolute respect — only serves in the long run to remind you how elderly Scream is. But it’s still capable of delivering some piercing high-pitched decibels." -Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"Campbell easily slips back into the shoes of original final girl Sidney — but, as we’re frequently reminded, this is not her story. How die-hard fans will react to choices made with the legacy cast remains to be seen — but the film itself is ahead of the game, playing on the propensity for fan outrage that’s all the, well, rage these days to laugh-out-loud effect in the third act." -Ben Travis, Empire Magazine
""A critical aspect of any Scream movie is the big third act and the killer reveal. You might be left wishing for one character to have been given more depth throughout, but it's still a satisfying and twisted climax that underlines the movie's biggest targets. Scream was arguably never really going to live up to its namesake, yet the new movie recaptures the spirit of Wes Craven's classic and its winning blend of horror and humour. Do you like scary movies? If it's this one, we very much do." -Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy
"If you’re sick of all these new/old movies that do just that, then don’t worry because of course Scream is sick of them too. That ability to laugh, comment, and critique the movie as it’s playing out makes this a total joy. All hail Kevin Williamson and the gift of the Stab movies, which have never been used to better effect. This is a great Scream movie. It’s also a great horror movie with tons of great kills, characters you care about, and a lot to say about the industry and horror as a whole. It’s been 11 years since our last Scream movie and it was worth the wait." -Rosie Knight, Nerdist
"The latest addition to the Scream franchise expertly blends reverence for the source material while creating something that feels almost completely new. All of the performances are pitch-perfect as the new generation of Woodsboro teens step into their futures, the kills are gnarly, and no version of toxic fandom is left unmocked." -Amelia Emberwing, IGN
"As far as the direction, Oplin and Gillett did not hold back. You could tell they wanted to make a film Craven would be proud of, and at times, you can see them toying with the slasher tropes. For example, there is a sequence where you find yourself eagerly anticipating a jump scare that takes a long time to happen, and the fun and games of the genre are updated for the 2020s." -Jonathan Sim, ComingSoon.net
"Unlike another recent decade-late meta-sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, Scream seems overjoyed to be playing in an established IP sandbox. But the weight of legacy still holds the movie down. (It’s a heavy burden, too. The late Wes Craven, an undisputed horror icon, directed every Scream movie except for this one.) In its strained effort to combine established players with new ones, Scream’s structure nearly collapses on itself, building momentum and then squandering it for a visit with another old pal. This is most obvious with a pivot midway through the film that brings all of the many characters to the same familiar location. It’s a device that lands with a loud, clanging thud." -Katie Rife, The A.V. Club
"Vividly photographed by Brett Jutkiewicz (The Black Phone) and cunningly edited by Michel Aller (There’s Someone Inside Your House), this new Scream is a killer. Smartly scary and scary smart, consistent with the history of this series but unafraid to piss off fans if it’s for the good of the story. This satire of requels may very well be the first requel done right. It’s a scream, baby." -William Bibbiani, TheWrap
Scream slashes its way back onto the big screen this Friday (Jan. 14).