If ‘No Caller ID’ panics us these days, just imagine getting an anonymous call from a serial killer? Capturing this fear, Scream always makes the right call. The movies, mostly helmed by the late Wes Craven, are money-spinners and a legacy to conetmporary horror. The title makes 90s kids remember their trips to Blockbusters, where we would be curious to rent the film on VHS.
A decade has passed since the last instalment was released and leaves us wondering whether this latest flick is needed. As the trailer exhibits, it’s a different premise, with roots from the first 1996 picture. This fifth instalment is a ‘requel’, meaning a hybrid between sequel, reboot and remake as it revisits the subject matter but not a remake or linear continuation of the plot.
The narrative is yet again set in the infamous Town, Woodsboro. Like every other protagonist, teenager Tara (Jenna Ortega) gets a foreboding phone call, thinking it’s a prank by her friend Amber (Mickey Madison). The call heads for a horrific turn after it’s revealed to be a killer dressed as Ghostface and gets attacked. Her estranged sister Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and boyfriend Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid) come to look after her. The perils, however, have just begun and it all stems from Sam’s dark past.
Fans are taken on a trip down memory Lane, especially because an entire generation grew up with it. Ghostface, mentions of previous incidents in the first instalment are nostalgic. This sentiment is enhanced by the reunion of Scream veterans Sidney (Neve Campbell) Dewey (David Arquette), Judy (Marley Shelton) and Gale (Courteney Cox). Feels wonderful to see them back.
Dewey tells Sidney “this one just feels different” and that dialogue is partly true. After suffering decades of the grisly killings taking place in the Town, characters are shown to be more aware than ever. Indirect references to this movie almost break the fourth wall whenever ‘Stab’ movies are mentioned. Such conversations, in a way, try to justify why the movie takes the direction it does. Even if the build-up is clumsy. For instance, scenes, where a character gets distracted before a person could kill the antagonist, does a disservice to the film’s ‘woke’ appeal. There is an added ‘realism’ to the story but yet ditsy in approach.
Despite the history of ghastly attacks in the town, law enforcement (besides Dewey) are absent. It is ironic how even in the 21st-century cops wouldn’t be patrolling the streets when a dangerous killer is on the loose, but turn up way after the crime. There is still a lack of decisiveness within characters which does not seem believable in today’s time. The silver lining to the story is that it does not require new audiences to watch previous works as important cruxes are explained well. However, watching the first movie will help in relating to this one more.
Even though the writing and direction by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are flawed, the overall product is still quite engaging. The tongue-in-cheek lines and film fanaticism by Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) makes the viewing upbeat. In fact, the supporting cast choice is brilliant as one can not quite guess who the killer is. From Dylan Minette to Mason Gooding, all the recognisable faces deliver substantial performances. Barerra and Ortega as leads are fabulous. Their bond as siblings is convincing and relatable. There is also a surprise appearance in there (wink, wink).
I must confess that none of the movies in this series has scared me and this too follows suit. Having said that though, this is the goriest movie of Craven’s universe. There are times when I flinched at certain scenes and I’ve endured the SAW movies. This goes to show how bloody and sickening it can be so it certainly is not for the faint-hearted.
For 26 years now, Scream has been quite the wholesome cinema experience as it has suspense, light humour and gore. The ventures highlight how horror filmy fixation can completely misdirect the mentally challenged. This too pays homage to the original concept. Whilst this classic has been given a modern revamp and is a reminiscent watch, perhaps it’s time that we spare this series from a knife-edge.