'Scream' Movie Review: Ghostface Takes a Stab at the New Generation

Scream leaves a big, blood-gushing checkmark under each franchise requirement. This fifth horror installment passes the knife and torch onto a new generation of slasher enthusiasts. Scream presents several fresh ideas that beg for exploration, but it never truly digs its knife into the meat of what makes a return to Wes Craven’s series worthwhile.

‘Scream’ is the first installment without Wes Craven

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett direct a screenplay written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. This makes it the first entry to not have Craven in the director’s chair since his death in 2015. The new Scream is set 25 years after the original series of murders ravaged through Woodsboro.

A new killer is on the loose, once again wearing the Ghostface mask and costume. Sam (Melissa Burrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) are sisters who find themselves at the center of it all. They must figure out why this new Ghostface killer is targeting them before it’s too late. If they hope to make it out alive, they’ll have to follow the essential horror movie rules.

Ghostface becomes social commentary on toxic fandom

Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett understand what modern Scream fans want visually. They bring the gore in spades. Ghostface slashes and stabs their victims in wide shots that never shy away from the punctures. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett film the mask-wearing killer in a way that’s rightfully elusive, intimidating, and brutal.

Scream seeks to relive its glory days. It presents some engrossing topics, but it chases the iconic nature of Craven’s originals rather than finding a hook of its own. Scream brings up toxic fandom, the direction of the modern slasher genre, and presents the argument of whether “elevated” horror or mindless slashers are better. However, the screenplay never truly capitalizes on these initial ideas.

Craven’s mark on the franchise is still present for both better and worse. The new Scream includes perhaps the most obvious killer in the series thus far. Aside from some pacing lulls, this horror movie slashes straight for the jugular and isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t cut quite as deep as it should.

Scream is playing exclusively in theaters starting on Jan. 14.

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