For a generation of cinema fans Scream was the film that got them hooked on horror. At a time when the slasher horror was starting to go through a bit of a resugiance the original Scream film stood out from the rest because of the fact director Wes Craven (A Nightmare On Elm Street) and Kevin Williamson (I Know What You Did Last Summer) used the film to almost mock the tropes of what made a slasher film a slasher film.
But the film wasn’t a parody, oh no Craven and Williamson did something that cinema had never seen before. They exposed popular horror tropes but still made this a film with an original story and characters likable enough for horror fans to fall in love with.
Somewhere down the line though Scream films started to take themselves way too seriously. That wit that saw the original film almost have a go at the genre it rested nicely in was gone, but thankfully now with Scream 5 it feels like directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (Ready Or Not) and Tyler Gillett (Devil’s Due) have had enough of the rot and once again we have a Scream film with a contained story that is also self-aware of where it sits within modern day horror.
This time around the murders seem to be occurring around Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera – In The Heights) who hastily makes a trip back to Woodsboro after her sister, Tara (Jenna Ortega – Iron Man 3), is attacked by the brand new Ghostface killer.
Urged on by Tara’s friends and her boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid – Rampage), Sam decides that the only way that they can get to the bottom of who Ghostface is is to bring in those that have been there in the past starting with the now retired Dewey Riley (David Arquette – Never Been Kissed). At first Dewey doesn’t want to get involved but once he realises just how serious things are he is straight on the phone to warn his ex-wife Gale (Courtney Cox – Friends) and original victim Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell – Wild Things) that Ghostface is on the run again.
It is almost an impossible task to review Scream 5. Because on one hand the plot and premise of the film is paper thin, but to be honest it is also one hell of a smart ride. Screenwriters, James Vanderbilt (Independence Day: Resurrection) and Guy Busick (Read Or Not), bring back the magic of the original film by taking a fair swipe at the tropes that we have come to expect with re-boots or re-quels as they are becoming known. They also have a fair bit to say about the so called ‘intelligent’ horror films that seem to have replaced good old slasher films in cinemas.
In a way Scream 5 does exactly what the original Scream did. It not only makes a statement about horror today but its characters almost parody what you would expect to see in a re-boot but at the same time the film has a plot that is completely contained within the film. The great thing about that is that while the film is very self-aware of itself and at times the characters speak like they know they are characters in a film nothing trips up the plot and once again we have a Scream film that is a fun whodunit.
To the credit of the screenwriters the film also ties in the characters from the past remarkably well. Unlike other franchises that have tried to bring old-school characters back into new releases the screenwriters have kept the characters true to what we have known them to be the past and they are there to move the story along not just to get the actors’ names in the credits.
Acting wise many of the cast step up and deliver exactly what they need to do for such a film. Jasmin Savoy Brown (For The People) steals the show as the horror film obsessed Mindy while returning veteran David Arquette puts in one of the most emotionally driven performances ever seen in the Scream franchise. It’s certainly a surprise to see such a performance in a stock standard slasher but Arquette is certainly up to the task.
Scream 5 is a reminder of just how fun cinema can be. Does it make a statement about the world today? No! Does it make a statement about the horror films that we are watching now? Hell yes! The film is full of likable characters, has a witty script and is fun enough to have you guessing who is the killer and whose pulse will stop next.