By Olivia Workman, Fourth Year, French & Italian
From the outset Scream (2022), whose title is clearly a jab at the retconned Halloween (2018), establishes its self-reflexive and satirical tone. However, soon after a recreation of the classic opening scene starring the teenage girl and the unknown voice on the end of the phone, the constant mention of being a film-within-a-film quickly leads to a loss in the film’s momentum.
Whilst a nice attempt at poking fun at the horror genre, the newest instalment in the iconic franchise fails in its meta execution, which really should come as no surprise being the fifth in the series.
Littered with Gen Z language and the overuse of ‘this is the part in the scary movie when…’, I’m afraid to say Scream doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the other requels (reboot sequels for those who are reasonably unaware) of the horror genre which we’ve seen so much of recently. In fact it would seem that the Scary Movie franchise does a better job at mimicking these classic tropes, and at least there a laugh is gained.
The cringiest performances go to either Dennis Quaid’s son or Jenna Ortega’s character, who has an irritating need to continually mention The Babadook (2014). And this is what the film does indeed touch on: how the horror genre has changed over the past decade since the series’ previous theatrical outing.
We have what is now considered elevated horror (Split, Get Out, Midsommar) vs the good old-fashioned slasher who-dunnit (Halloween, I Know What You Did Last Summer). With either genre the question must still be asked; what do we want out of our horror films? If it is to be scared, then I would say that directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett have sadly underdelivered.
Scream’s constant plight of meta-ness stood in the way of creating any real tension at all. For all of its outright ludicrous storylines, at least last year’s Halloween Kills actually made you jump out of your seat a few times. If I want to see a self-effacing horror film that turns inwards on itself, I want it done well and Scream just isn’t it. It tries, and doesn’t do a terrible job, but something about the combination of poor writing, a glossy Hollywood filming style and a wardrobe that anchors it into the same vein of films it is trying to ridicule, is something that even Monica from Friends (1994-2004), one of the three returning leads, can't fix.
It wasn’t dreadful, and the ‘trying to do something new’ sentiment was there, but it wasn’t what the viewer was after either. To be fair, it's not an easy feat, being the first of its kind was what gave Scream (1996) its charm and attractiveness. No matter how many twists and turns you add to the narrative, it's difficult to come close to an original that proved so game-changing 25 years ago.
Is it even possible to tread new ground in the nostalgic, slasher genre? One could argue this hasn’t been the case for a while now. To quote the film itself, “no one has made a great Scream movie since the first one”.
Featured Image: IMDB/Paramount
Do you feel Scream is a solid addition to this classic series?