“Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!” – Billy Loomis
All the way back in 1996, Wes Craven came up with an idea that would not only change pop culture of that era but for all time. Scream, while at its surface is just another slasher, it’s the self awareness the franchise possesses that has allowed it to endure. 26 years later the fifth installment has turned in on itself entirely. Like Cyberdyne Systems becoming self-aware, the characters of the Scream franchise have become aware of their own horror universe. Complete with its own horror franchise within the story of Scream, entitled Stab (and the subsequent sequels), the characters have come full circle and realized that their in-movie reality has become the focus of a string of serial murders based on a film franchise which is of course based on real murders within the Scream stories. Talk about meta.
The thing about meta is that it’s quite popular at the moment. In fact we don’t have to look back far at all to see meta in full force but also that blind meta isn’t without its failures. The Matrix Resurrections is a prime example of unfettered self-awareness acting like Icarus and flying too close to the sun for its own good. While it had its fair share of wonderful “ah ha!” moments, The Matrix Resurrections goes way too heavy on the “remember this” path as it incessantly references the original film hoping you won’t look too closely at everything else that just doesn’t work about the movie as a whole.
The directors of Ready or Not, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, helm this latest entry of Scream fully aware that five movies deep into any franchise requires some serious finessing to make it not only entertaining but relevant to the times. Especially if that franchise has taken nearly thirty years to reach number five. Thirty years is a long time and things most definitely have changed since the mid-90’s.
Much of what I want to bring up about this installment is actually discussed in the movie itself. What works about it all is the combination of new and old meeting to create not just the present story but to set the stage for potential future stories this franchise still may have left to tell. It works as a sort of baton being passed from the “legacy” characters to the new people whose connections to the past force their participation in yet another hellish game of “what’s your favorite scary movie?”
The creators of this new vision do what Resurrections did but in a much more focused manner. They are fully aware of the original story and the impact of those characters on the present day killings. They use our knowledge of everything that’s come before to either deliver something we recognize, a sort of call back, or they use it to circumvent our expectations to create a more surprising encounter. They want us to remember in hopes of surprising us with something that changes the rules these characters have lived by for four films now. Don’t do this, always do this and never go here. These basic rules established so famously in the original are put to the test and oftentimes never find their footing as they once did. By that I mean any and all rules can be thrown out. This is a new era where anything goes and no one is safe because anyone could be the killer.
An important part of any good horror movie is likable characters. One of the best ways to make characters endearing to any audience is to make them smart. Now this doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes as any human does but with an intelligent cast of characters it forces the story around them to adapt into something more compelling than simply people getting stabbed by a killer. You’ve seen that, we’ve all seen that and it’s been done to death (pun).
The creators of this movie have fully realized the brilliance of Wes Craven’s intentions with this franchise and have manufactured a new film that beyond simply existing adds to the overall mythos of Ghostface and his or her vengeance against whatever particular set of teens or young adults that happen to be inhabiting the cursed town of Woodsboro, California. Seriously, they need to burn that town down. It’s becoming a bit like Derry from IT where everyone is dying and no one seems to be doing anything about it. The characters aren’t without their shortcomings but they inhabit their situation aware of what’s happened in the past and how that will dictate their present and hopeful future. They use this knowledge to the best of their abilities to navigate a world where any one of them could be the boogeyman. It was a surprise for me as well but the fifth film in the Scream franchise just might be the smartest and most entertaining one yet.
Scream (5) is a sequel done right. It manages its own story while incorporating what has come before it. It combines new and old to make something viable for a new generation and for the legacy audience members still willing to take another ride into Woodsboro after all this time. It moves on while paying homage and respect to its predecessors. As someone who has enjoyed this franchise but never fully invested that much of my time or thought into it, this newest installment has piqued my interest and left me with a desire to see what comes next. For once, in a franchise this deep into its library, I genuinely hope there’s a next.
Rated R For: strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references
Runtime: 114 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera
Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 8.5/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 8
OVERALL: 8.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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