sceam | matt bettinelli-olpin | tyler gillett | james vanderbilt | guy busick | neve campbell | courteney cox | david arquette | slasher | meta | sequel | mystery | thriller | united states | melissa barrera | jack quaid | jenna ortega | mikey madison | dylan minnette
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Writers: James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette
This movie is an interesting one to me. When I heard they were doing it, I wasn’t shocked, but I also wasn’t all that excited about it either. Wes Craven had passed away, who was behind all the installments of the series. It is a franchise that I enjoy though. I don’t think there is a bad one thus far. It just felt like to me there wasn’t much more you could do without getting repetitive. Regardless, Jaime and I went to see this on opening night and then rewatched it during October.
Synopsis: twenty-five years after the original series of murders in Woodsboro, a new Ghostface appears and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) must return to uncover the truth.
We start this movie off much like the original. Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) is making something in her kitchen while texting her friend Amber (Mikey Madison). The landline rings with an unknown caller and she ignores it. It rings again and this time she answers it. She believes the caller is looking for her mother. Tara pries a bit, picking up on certain things being said. This quickly changes to something scary as the voice belongs to Roger Jackson. The voice on the phone wants to play a game. The stakes are that Tara answers 3 questions correctly and our killer won’t kill her friend Amber. There is a bit of a trick with the last one since Tara isn’t versed in the Stab movies. She is then attacked.
Tara survives though. She is in the hospital and her friend Wes (Dylan Minnette) contacts her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) to let her know what happened. Sam is estranged from her family and living in a different city. She at once agrees to come home. Her boyfriend of Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid) agrees to come with her.
After Sam and another person are attacked, leaving that victim dead, she seeks out the help of Dewey Riley (David Arquette). He’s paid a heavy toll over the years and is no longer the sheriff. He refuses them as he’s given too much already. Sam then seeks out the niece and nephew of Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). They are Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding). They get together Tara and their other friends of Amber, Wes and Liv (Sonia Ammar) to figure out what is going on here. It is here that Mindy points out fans are upset about Stab 8 and how this attack on Woodsboro is a ‘requel’ or making a remake/sequel of the original movie. This changes the rules and everyone is a suspect.
More victims are claimed and no one is safe. Sam must decide and come to terms with a secret from her past. Sidney and Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox) are alerted to what is happening. They must make a similar choice to stay away or jump right back into the same nightmare they’ve lived through so many times before.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap. I originally wrote this the day after seeing it on opening night. I’m also updating this after my second viewing. Looking at the rating on the Internet Movie Database and hearing some buzz through a horror movie podcast chat I’m in, people enjoyed this. I will say that I did like what they’re doing here, but I also had some issues with this movie as well. I will start though with the positives.
For me, the last movie was good. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the third movie in the series and I thought that four did some good things. Having revisited the one earlier, I did come down a bit there. Now with this one, they seem to be panning that earlier one by taking digs at it through Stab 8 in the movie. They are poking fun at movies like Halloween 2018, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Candyman for making what this movie dubbed as ‘requels’. What is clever is that this is doing the same thing. I can give credit for mocking themselves. This franchise is known for its meta-approach to what it is doing. This is smart, but I also think this movie isn’t as smart as it thinks it is. It went too far with things that it is doing for me to be fully onboard. This movie also is poking fun at fandom and some of the buzz words like ‘elevated horror’. I think this works to an extent, but again I think it goes too far at times to make sure we know how smart this movie is being with what they’re exploring.
What I will say though is that the slasher elements here are good. We get brutal deaths that looked good. I’m thinking we are getting practical effects mixed in with CGI and I’ll be honest, I didn’t have an issue with either. This movie also points out that even legacy characters aren’t safe. That was my biggest gripe with the last movie. I’m not going to spoil what happens here, but let’s just say that I thought any of the characters could die here with what they’re doing. This was a positive for me.
Something that I did have a problem with though was that this movie had too many characters. As I as saying with this ‘requel’, they had to bring back the legacy characters of Sidney, Gale, Dewey and to an extent Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton). I thought how they worked all of them in was solid. We even have connections to our new characters. Wes is the son of Judy. Mindy and Chad are the niece and nephew to Randy as I said. We also get a connection with a character of Vince Schneider (Kyle Gallner) and even Billy Loomis has a tie-in. I think that all of this was done well. My problem becomes that we get introduced to our new characters and they disappear for a long stretch of the movie until we get back to the climax. This movie is running almost two hours and for slasher films, even ones as smart as the Scream movies think they are, we can’t go too much longer. I understand what we are trying to do here, I just don’t think it comes together as well as they wanted for me.
Then the last part of the story that I’ll go into, I love that this movie doesn’t violate continuity. We keep building on things and adding them without necessarily ruining things that have happened previously. Sometimes thinks need stretching of logic, but in the grand scheme none of them are cheats. What they do here does work for me. Referencing back to the original I was fine with so I will give credit there. We are also keeping with the concept and premise that this series is known for. That is something else that I enjoyed. There is one reveal that I saw coming as did Jaime. She pointed it out to me in the cinema and I agreed with her. That does hurt it slightly there. With this second watch and hearing podcasts, the ages don’t match for certain characters. The events of the first movie are almost 30 years ago when this is released. It would make a certain character much older than I think they’re establishing. I could be wrong here though.
To move away from the story, I think I’ll go next to the acting. Campbell was good once again as Sidney. I like that she isn’t a focus and is pushed to be more of a side character. If they so decide to continue making movies, we now have someone who can take the lead here. Cox was also fine as Gale and Arquette was solid as Dewey. I do like that they are showing the physical and psychological effects of what has happened in the earlier 4 movies with him. There have been issues in the past with this, but this one took the care there. I do like Barrera as well. She feels like Sidney in the original where she has her own past that she needs to come to terms with. This includes reconciling with her sister, Tara. I thought Ortega was good as her sister. Minnette, Brown, Ammar, Madison and Gooding were all solid as the friend group. I also liked bringing back Shelton. Quaid and Gallner were both good. I do wish we could have gotten more Gallner as he is an underrated actor that I like. Overall, despite my issue with the lack of characters throughout, the acting was good.
Then to finish off this, I will go to the cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, I did think that this was shot well. We are using technology to make the opening different which I liked. We also get interesting shot with a cellphone camera. I like the POV shots. There were no issues here and I think it looks great. There is a bit of a problem of Ghostface’s body in the suit matching up to the whoever the killer is. I didn’t catch that in my first watch but have seen screenshots since. The second watch also confirms this. As for the soundtrack, it works for what they needed. We get an iconic song for a death scene that I liked. None of the rest stood out, but I had no issues there either.
In conclusion, I think that this does some good things. I like the elements of being a slasher sequel. We are getting enough deaths that I never got bored. I do think though that the movie believes it is smarter than what it is and it annoyed me at times. I’m glad that not all the characters feel safe. The acting is good, but I don’t know if they handled using all of them as well as they could. The effects were good. The use of technology was as well. Cinematography and soundtrack both were solid for what they needed. Despite my issues, I still found this to be above average. I had too many issues with the concept and the story to go higher after this first viewing.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10