TAKING ANOTHER STAB
Movie Review – Scream
Review by Ray Schillaci
In 2020, Spyglass Media Group acquired the rights to the Scream franchise after the Harvey Weinstein debacle. Writers James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man) and Guy Busick (Ready or Not, Castle Rock) went to work on what was going to be a reboot of the franchise. Enter the directing team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not, VHS – Radio Silence) and somewhere along the way the fifth installment of the Scream franchise was to be both sequel and reboot introducing several new characters while placing the original stars as more of a supporting cast. The team was also determined to honor both the original writer Kevin Williamson and the director of the entire franchise Wes Craven. They worked their hardest to breathe new life into Scream, perhaps too hard.
The film is more of a fanboy homage rather than something new and exciting which David Gordon Green did with 2018’s Halloween. This new stab (pun intended) at the Scream franchise is so immersed in its meta universe that it’s hard to rev up the suspense or enjoy the new characters, that pale in comparison to the original lot. It’s fun to watch and anticipate the next kill and who the new killer or killers are, but there’s too much wink, wink going on. It’s more like a funhouse ride than a thrilling roller coaster. Also, it does not help to see the attempt of anti-aging of Courteney Cox who is very hard to watch while Neve Campbell and David Arquette have taken to gracefully growing into their mature selves.
Once again, a young woman is terrorized in her home with a phone call. The difference being the addition of cell phones, home security, and texting. What is actually missing that the writers and directors don’t get or give us is a well-known actress being killed in the beginning of the film. What Wes Craven did in the original with Drew Barrymore shocked the audience. That first murder had us at the edge of our seats because it was Drew freckin’ Barrymore, our little Firestarter, our Gertie from E.T. That shocker was nearly every bit of a surprise as star Janet Leigh getting knifed while taking a shower in Psycho.
So, now we are not as invested as we would like to be and it feels as if it’s going to be by-the-numbers Scream with Ghost Face once again satirizing the slasher genre. The only thing new is the idea that our new victims are related to killers or victims from the franchise. It’s almost as if the filmmakers are propping up the franchise to gear up again for another series of sequels. The big difference, few of the new cast can measure up to the originals with the exceptions of Jack Quaid (Prime’s The Boys, Tragedy Girls) and Jenna Ortega (Netflix’s The Babysitter, Jane the Virgin).
Is it funny and scary like previous Screams? At times. Bringing back some of the original cast feels unnecessary. They feel shoehorned in. The only one that really stands out is David Arquette’s Dewey. The weight of the world is heavy on his shoulders and he has a true sense of dread of what is to come. Also, a tough scene between him and Courteney Cox who in real life broke up comes across like art imitating life. It may be the one true original moment in the film.
Does it make my PIC of the week? Not quite. Is it worth a watch? Sure, if you’re hungry for another Scream. The film is like junk food for the horror crowd and could generate a new audience for those uninitiated to the franchise.
Now, as far as the UHD 4K/Dolby Vision picture goes, the image conjured up by Paramount is reference quality. The attention to detail and clarity is impressive as hell. Nothing is missing in the night shots or while shrouded in darkness. Both the opening scene and the final scene in the original murder house are dynamic. The only drawback is the detail to Courteney Cox’s face. I’m not trying to be mean. Whatever she has done to herself whether it be botox or plastic surgery, it is a sad deterrent to her performance because it is so obvious.
Paramount, what happened to the Dolby Atmos audio track? The studio missed the boat on this one. Not sure why, but there is a notable lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix that seizes all the horror high points. Cringing knife stabs, door slams, creepy noises in the house all are stand outs. Actually, the audio track is better than the movie itself. It will have you jumping off your couch when you least expect it.
Now for the real disappointment, Paramount gives us less than a half hour of special features. What is available is the notable love and respect for the franchise and Wes Craven. What’s left is an entertaining audio commentary by the writer/producers, directors, and executive producer along with…
– Deleted Scenes
– New Blood – Original film’s success and legacy. Introduction to new characters, the role of modern technology in the film, and the film’s connections to the original.
– Bloodlines – Connections between new Scream and the original.
– In the Shadow of the Master – A look back at Wes Craven’s legacy.
– Scream (1996) Trailer