Saturday, January 15, 2022

Scream (2022)


High schooler Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) is alone at their house in Woodsboro one night and receives a call from a playful stalker. Soon she is attacked and stabbed multiple times. Despite her injuries, she survives and is visited at the hospital by her estranged sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera) who is accompanied by her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid). Tara’s friends then speculate as to who will be attacked next based on the rules of slasher flick requels. Will it be Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), son of deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton)? Twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) who happen to be Randy’s (Jamie Kennedy) niece and nephew? Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) whose family now owns Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) old house where all the horrors of the first film's serial murders unfolded? As they try to figure out the pattern, legacy characters Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) find themselves revisiting Woodsboro to put an end to Ghostface once and for all.

It’s hard to come up with comments about a self-aware film that’s already doing all that for you in its two-hour run. It feels as though there is nothing left to say that the characters haven’t already done so in a meta kind of way through their dialogues. Perhaps this is just the new norm in Hollywood nowadays as far as this fascination with requels go. Mindy, who takes over her dead uncle Randy’s role as slasher film mechanics expert, couldn’t have explained it any better in a tongue-in-cheek monologue that also serves as a blunt stab at Hollywood’s obsession with cashing in through a mix of nostalgia and fan service.

Observations as to how Scream 2022 does for the horror genre what Matrix Resurrections has done for sci-fi are not without basis. Suffice it to say that Wes Craven would be proud as Scream 2022 stays true to its roots. It is no doubt a Scream movie through and through, from the opening sequence all the way to the serial killer reveal. Perhaps the beauty of having built such a movie universe over two decades is that you can rehash the formula over and over again every decade or so and still come up with a product that is actually the same old shit but updated to suit current times while basking in nostalgia.

Having said that, the formula works well in giving the loyal fanbase the fan service they demand while winning over new fans at the same time. As Mindy elaborates, Halloween did it. Even Star Wars couldn’t resist. It’s not a phenomenon exclusive to the horror genre. Maybe this is just Hollywood’s way of dealing with brain drain and lack of fresh ideas. The formula has been so popular lately that it deserves its own subgenre, to be honest.

But we have to give it to the new writers and directors for respecting Craven’s legacy and staying true to the source material. While some links to legacy characters come off as contrived, they do make an effort to at least connect the dots. For those who have not seen the original trilogy in the last decade or so, perhaps a movie marathon is in order to catch all the references here. Many scenes, though, serve as some sort of homage to the original trilogy that came 20 years before. Everything just goes full circle.

One particular scene I love is that of drunk Mindy lying on the couch watching Stab, a movie within the movie universe based on the actual events in Woodsboro. As her fate appears to mimic that of her uncle as played by another actor on her TV, which in turn refers to Uncle Randy who was commenting on how the slasher flick genre operated while actually being in one... Wait, I just lost my train of thought there. This is like the Inception of the slasher flick genre. I love it!

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