Sign up for our weekly newsletter
Confetti - Your Future

Film Review: Scream

17 January 22 words: George White

The fifth film in the Scream franchise, um, Scream, is in cinemas now - and it is well worth a watch...

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Running time: 114 minutes

Back in 1996, screen legend Wes Craven wowed audiences with Scream, a meta horror that blended originality, humour and tension into one delightful package, creating a cult following that has remained dedicated ever since. Now, almost three decades later, Ready or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have tried their hand at an entry into the franchise with, um, Scream, a meta horror that packs originality, humour and tension into, you guessed it, one delightful package. 

Sound familiar? Well, as it turns out, that’s no bad thing. This ode to Scream (Scream 1? Scream: The Original? Scream (1996)?) is an open appreciation of the filmmaking influence of Craven, a captivating blockbuster that aims to channel the enchanting playfulness that made the later director’s work so popular, without feeling like a fan-made movie you might find on YouTube. Instead, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett take the best bits of that iconic original and bring their own fresh, modern twist on the tale, combining old slasher tropes with new ideas and devices, with mobile phone tracking and smart home systems just some of the unique elements causing havoc for our unlucky leads. In short, this is exciting, inventive, and entertaining - everything you could want from a Scream movie. 

Much like back in the nineties, this film kicks off with our masked murderer toying with the life of a girl whose parents aren’t home, which is something Scream itself eludes to - using the in-world on-screen version of the movie, amusingly titled Stab, as just the first of many delicious layers of meta. After the brutal attack, we are introduced to Melissa Barrera’s Sam Carpenter - estranged sister of the victim, Tara (a fantastic Jenna Ortega) - who quickly realises the attacks are related to her hidden, nightmare-inducing past. What follows is a trail of close calls, bloodshed and deceit. Nothing new there, then.

Much of the movie’s metacommentary, poking fun at horror and its superfans, feels delightfully tongue-in-cheek

Yet within what feels like a tired concept, there is plenty of creativity and fun to be found. In the original, while the antagonist of Ghostface is intimidating and kills at will, he ultimately lacks the sinisterness of a Mike Myers or Jason Voorhees. But here, there is a real aggression to the villain, with the directors making full use of their R rating to bring some truly brutal death scenes. From the off, no one feels safe, no one feels guaranteed to survive - even the original trio of Neve Campbell’s Sidney, Courteney Cox’s Gale and David Arquette’s Dewey. 

One standout sequence that takes place in a hospital, as a severely injured character tries to escape the clutches of Ghostface while barely able to stand, is particularly tense, each groan of desperation and grimace of pain fully impacting the audience. Other moments are eye-wateringly savage, with knife slashing, throat slitting and leg stomping ferocity bringing a bloody end to many on screen. In short, as an outright horror, this is impressively effective. 

Adding this undoubtable success to the joyous romp that is Ready or Not, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are establishing themselves as potential heavyweights of horror

As a comedy, though, this is also brilliantly executed. There are moments of genuine humour throughout, with the script from James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick expertly toeing the line between drama and satire, providing moments of relief when things start to verge on becoming too serious. Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding deserve credit for their likeable charisma, continuing the legacy of their on-screen uncle, Randy Meeks, with impressive ease. Much of the movie’s metacommentary, poking fun at horror and its superfans, feels delightfully tongue-in-cheek too, and typical tropes of the genre are both utilised and undermined in properly inventive ways.

Before the final credits roll, an emotional tribute to Wes Craven fills the screen, and there is no doubt that this film feels like a fitting tribute to the beloved filmmaker. With sharp scriptwriting, likeable characters and some genuinely shocking moments, this is the Scream franchise at its finest. Adding this undoubtable success to the joyous romp that is Ready or Not, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are establishing themselves as potential heavyweights of horror - much like their hero before them.

Did you know? David Arquette, who is a certified Bob Ross painting instructor, taught several of the cast members how to paint like the legendary artist during filming breaks.

Scream is in cinemas now. 

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

Metronome - Suntou Susso