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  • Writer's pictureJames McCleary

Scream // Film Review

A new decade, a new Scream. But does the joke still kill?

“Elevated horror.”

This one was in a weird spot from the get-go, being the first film in a franchise distinguished for its self-referential comedy to be manned by an entirely new creative team. As a result, it does feel a little bit redundant at points, like the fresh blood are trying that bit too hard to find a fresh angle on a franchise that has been satirising itself for more than two decades now, rather than just continuing in the spirit of what Wes Craven and (more crucially) Kevin Williamson had created.

The result is a film that tries so hard to construct a meta-narrative that it ends up stepping on its own toes. Scream 2 already laughed in the face of sequels, and Scream 4's opening is as searing a statement on fandom as anything that came in the ten years after. The running gag in Scream 5 (Scre5m?) about how 'nobody saw the sequels' seems like a direct attempt to lampshade this. It's the same jokes again, but better this time. Except they aren't.

Even the visual parallels don't land quite as well without Craven's signature touch. The slapstick of Ghostface is largely gone (barring one hilarious late-game reveal on the lawn of a student party), as he has been subbed in for, essentially, any other horror villain of the past decade. While on the one hand Scream 5 drives itself into the ground trying to prove its own fandom, it can't commit to the silliness of nineties horror either.

This isn't to say that the film isn't fun. The new cast give it their all, with some star turns from Mindy Meeks-Martin and Jack Quaid, along with a strong returning play from David Arquette as Dewey Riley. Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox show up as well, briefly, but there isn't so much to write home about there.

A lot of the jokes land too, especially in the second half when the ensemble go stir crazy with their various conspiracy theories, but the overshadowing truth of Scream 5 is that it is derivative of the Craven/Williamson sequels, and it definitely does not feel like the culmination of twenty years of post-Scream slasher cinema. It's just another nostalgia 'requel', albeit of a more competently enjoyable class than most of what we seem to be getting these days.


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