The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - SCREAM | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review [Cinema] - SCREAM

scream review
A new Ghostface killer stalks Woodboro.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Starring: Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Heather Matarazzo, Marley Shelton, Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, Jack Quaid

scream poster

Of all the major horror franchises, Scream is the least cinematic. The first movie arrived in 1996 when American cinema was suffering a severe case of verbal diarrhea as every other screenwriter wished to be the next Tarantino. Characters in '90s American movies talked incessantly, often about other movies, and Scream took this idea to new heights with both the killers and their victims picked from a bunch of horror obsessed teens.

The trouble with the Scream movies is that they're essentially Murder She Wrote episodes without Jessica Fletcher. They're whodunnits in which nobody figures out who done it. A protagonist, usually Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott, adopts the role of detective as they try to figure out who is behind the iconic Ghostface mask, but it always ends with the killer having to reveal their own identity. Peppered with a few stabbings, the Scream movies are bogged down with dialogue as characters talk about who the killer might be and what their motives are.

scream review

Even by the low standards set by previous instalments, Scream (why can't you just call it Scream 5 FFS???) looks like a movie that belongs on the small screen. It's a series of numbing conversations shot like a daytime soap opera, complete with the botox-ed faces you might find in such a drama. Occasionally there's a stabbing, which are notably more sadistic here than in previous entries, but no more thrilling.


With Prescott having left Woodsboro, a new final girl is selected by the mystery killer in Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), a twentysomething whose teenage sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) survived an attack by Ghostface. Sam recruits former Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), who reluctantly returns to Woodsboro, quickly followed by Sidney and his former lover, journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox).

scream review

What follows is a tedious series of soap opera level revelations about family histories and blandly staged stalk and slash sequences. Early on a character mentions how the horror genre has left slasher antics behind and for a minute we think this Scream might be about to riff on the tropes on what has annoying been labelled "elevated horror." But no, the series is still mired in decades old conventions - even Psycho's shower scene is referenced.


Scream is so meta that several characters point out how redundant and uninspired the movie they're stuck in really is, even going so far as to point out some of the franchise's flaws. It's a remarkable self-own, and you get the impression that the writers feel they're above this sort of fare. But they're certainly not, as they can't even manage to put together a simple slasher storyline without getting bogged down in plotholes and falling into the void of logic gaps.

scream review

There are moments in Scream that display utter contempt for the audience, culminating in a killer reveal that simply makes no sense in the story's narrative. At one point our heroes have the chance to unmask the killer but decide instead to simply walk away. What? We've spent an hour watching these people incessantly debate who the killer might be and now all of a sudden they lose interest? The bare minimum the script could have done is remain consistent to its characters' motivations. When a character suggests that this movie shouldn't really exist, you can't help but nod in agreement. When the words "For Wes" appear on screen it feels like a final insult rather than a loving tribute.
Scream is in UK/ROI cinemas now.



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