A friendly word of warning: if you haven’t seen the new ‘Scream’ film yet, come back and bookmark this article for later.
We spoil the entire whole damn thing, and the enjoyment of the film is predicated on the reveals and twists.
The film is absolutely worth your time, so go check out the movie and come back to this article later.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s get down to business.
If the ‘Scream’ series is known for one thing, it’s the exploration of meta.
The 1996 original pokes fun at the slasher film culture created by ‘Halloween’ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ and 25 years later, the series has lost none of its lustre for poking fun at cinematic trends.
One of the films greatest strengths is the virtue of it being a love letter to the original film, but not being afraid to put its own stamp on the franchise.
The legacy sequel has become incredibly popular over the course of the last decade after 2015’s ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ mixed old cast members with new characters.
The franchises penchant for flirting with the meta lends itself well to the new film, with the entire third act of the film taking place at the house from the 1996 original.
The killers deliberately engineered the plot of the film so that the action ends at the famous house, which will give the producers of the in-universe ‘Stab’ films a fresh story for them to adapt.
Why did the killers feel so aggrieved and stage this elaborate set-up?
They were upset at how badly the ‘Stab’ films turned out and lamented how Rian Johnson ruined their favourite series.
Finally, the Letterboxd generation has been represented in cinematic form.
At this stage of the article, we will reveal who the killers are, so if you’ve made it this far into the article, this is your last chance to make sure the film isn’t spoiled for you.
The patented ‘Scream’ twist where the killers are revealed are as satisfying as the scenes in ‘Mission Impossible’ when Tom Cruise pulls off the mask.
Jack Quaid and Mikey Madison’s Richie and Amber are two fans of the series who are aggrieved with the turn the ‘Stab’ series has taken and engineer a series of events that leads to Gale Weathers, Sidney Prescott and Dewey Reilly returning to Woodsboro.
When cornered, Richie and Amber explain their motive: their favourite series had grown stale and wanted to create a legacy sequel that combines old characters with existing ones.
By inspiring a new series of killings, the series producers will have no choice but to return to the source as it were and reboot ‘Stab’ for a new generation by combining old characters with the new.
As Neve Campbell’s Sidney points out, these are people’s real lives that are being affected and not just a mere movie.
Jack Quaid, in particular, deserves high praise for playing a character that looks and sounds every inch the type of film fan that feels aggrieved whenever a film does anything that remotely threatens to challenge or mess with his beloved franchise.
Mikey Madison also namedrops 4Chan and Reddit when pleading to be spared, and says she was just an innocent fan who got caught up in the rhetoric.
Tackling the role of fandom within the modern culture is a risky move for any film to take, and this is where the new ‘Scream’ shines.
It embraces the legacy of the original but is not afraid to make its own thesis statement in the process.
Melissa Barrera’s Sam is the daughter of Billy Loomis, and the character shows up in visions throughout the movie.
Sam embraces her heritage and helps see off Richie and Amber.
The ghostly visage of Billy Loomis is used sparingly during the film and is deployed in a handful of scenes, but his impact on the plot is meaningful without going overboard.
After they are dispatched of, Sam meets with Sidney and Gale in an ambulance, and Gale says that she will refuse to write about the events that transpired, and will not give Richie and Amber the exposure they so crave.
Therein, the true genius of the 2022 version of ‘Scream’ is revealed.
In the aftermath of the Columbine shooting in 1999, the ‘Scream’ films, in particular, became the target of moral guardians and media outlets alike as they alleged the films glorified media violence.
2000s ‘Scream 3’ was subject to heavy censoring and much of the blood and gore was toned down in comparison to other instalments.
It should be noted that the American censor board, the MPAA, had major problems with the original ‘Scream’, but with ‘Scream 3’, the producers elected to make the film comparably less violent than previous instalments.
For that reason, ‘Scream 3’ feels surprisingly sanitised compared to the other films in the franchise, and while it still has violent moments, the blood and gore that dominated the first two films isn’t as much of a presence.
Over 20 years later, tragedies like Columbine happen in the United States with a frequency that undercuts the arguments that violent media is to blame.
Other factors are pointedly to blame when it comes to the frequent American tragedies we are now accustomed to seeing in the news cycle, and violent media is nowhere near the main contributing factor that the media would have you believe.
When Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers closes the film by announcing she is opting to write a tribute to her fallen ex-husband Dewey who died at the hands of Ghostface and let the new Ghostface killers die in anonymity, this is the ‘Scream’ franchise reacting to the culture that scapegoated it over 20 years ago.
The non-controversy surrounding the release of ‘Joker’ in 2019 is a testament to the fickleness of the media: a controversy was created wholesale in an attempt to set the agenda, and it backfired.
Prior to the release of ‘Joker’ in 2019, media outlets expressed concern that the violent content of the film would encourage audience members to replicate the acts portrayed on screen.
While other issues have taken precedence in the 3 years since the film's release, the only negative consequence of ‘Joker’ was inspiring a bad Ed Sheeran music video.
In comparison to other horror franchises, ‘Scream’ dabbled in the high-brow, and in 2022, the franchise has grown with the trends in cinema.
‘Scream’ was once the target of the agenda, now ‘Scream’ is setting the agenda.
The film has numerous tributes to original director Wes Craven, and the directors say they wanted to make a film that he would be proud of.
Prior to his storied career behind the camera, Craven taught humanities at a New York college and had a master’s degree in philosophy and writing.
Craven had a gift for scaring audiences but was even better at weaving in subtext and deeper philosophical themes into his work.
The very best cinema experiences are ones that work at a Paul Verhoeven level – a blockbuster that can operate as popcorn fare or ones that can be subject to analytical pieces like this.
Wes Craven’s films such as the original ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’, the original ‘Scream’, the underrated ‘Shocker’ or the Cillian Murphy-starring ‘Red Eye’ are films that can be enjoyed with a group of friends over a few beers, or be the subject of academic papers.
With the new ‘Scream’, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett made the kind of film Wes Craven would be proud of.
It works as a surface-level horror film to be enjoyed with a crowd or works as a film that can be rewatched 20 times while obsessive fans and media geeks mine each scene for subtext and metaphors.
The legacy sequel is oftentimes a dry and cynical attempt to cash in on nostalgia, but with ‘Scream’, the template has been reshaped once again.