Caution: The last paragraph contains a horrifying spoiler.
Add another notch to the meta trend in movies making direct reference to themselves. The concept of a movie character making a joke that breaks the fourth wall certainly has been around for decades. Recent movies as different as “Halloween Kills,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Matrix Resurrections” all used in-jokes as their raison d’être.
“Scream” (2022) wows due to new cast members rather than the ‘legacy’ cast that show up. The same was true for the recent “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” reboot where rising teen actress McKenna Grace was more interesting than seeing Bill Murray display his out-of-date enthusiasm.
Sure they’re legacy but must history always repeat itself?
Casting Jamie Lee Curtis in a reboot of “Halloween” or Keanu Reeves in a continuation of “The Matrix” is clever use of legacy. Bringing back David Arquette, Courtney Cox and Neve Campbell feels like a stab in the dark. A cable movie made to be forgotten. An inheritance leaving no gain for survivors.
The original “Scream” established Dimension Films, the fast food division of Miramax when the operation was a Weinstein Brothers production, as genre distributors to be reckoned with in the 1990s. The film was a huge hit with a budget of $14-million and a worldwide haul over $170-million. There were multiple sequels.
If you’ve seen the series you are aware of the fictional spin-off ‘Stab,’ in “Scream 2” with Luke Wilson and Heather Graham cameos. All of the above is referenced in an early scene in the 2022 “Scream.”
At some point the rights have transferred to Paramount Pictures, which is the current distributor.
Woodsboro is no Haddonfield
The pressure is on modern cinema to continue down the path that made it the prominent art form of the 20th century. Only the pandemic has put the kabash on the sanctity of movie theaters. And thus critics.
With rare exception theaters that have remained open are not unwinding foreign films, documentaries or indie films with the vitality they did even a few years ago. A film reviewer who is, say, 30-years-old has every reason to blindly extoll the virtues of any series that came out in the 1990s.
If the legacy movies fail, then the audience moves on leaving the modern critic without a fanbase.
Posititve reviews are rewarded by social media followers while negative views are so much sour grapes.
Closing Spoiler Paragragh
There’s a rule in horror films about casting. If you played a member of the Manson Family in a Tarantino film you will be cast as the killer in a horror film.
It’s one of the more glaringly obvious nods to genre convention that the 2022 “Scream” – call it a remake, call it a reboot, just don’t call it late for accolades – makes.
It’s a drawback for a franchise known for making it hard to guess the killer.
There’s nothing clever about the new “Scream.” Certainly the original director Wes Craven was merely scratching the surface of better franchises he had helmed, like “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Writer Kevin WIlliamson was doing a horror riff of his hit television series “Dawson’s Creek.”
The series’ new directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Nettinelli-Olpin are skilled at horror tropes – they amply demonstrated that with “Ready or Not” – yet they haven’t established a unique touch or method they can call their own. The best thing “Scream” has going for it is the fact that it doesn’t have the irritability factor of “Final Destination” or “I Saw What You Did Last Summer.”