What the heck, here’s another Scream.

As I continue my journey catching up on 2022’s releases, I find myself still in the early days of “Fuck You, It’s January.” And sure, The 355 might have been uninspired garbage, The Commando substandard garbage, I refuse at the moment at least to pay money for The Legend of La Llorona and the movie isn’t even being pirated anywhere, and Hellblazers is shockingly the film I enjoyed the most thanks to its chicken cutlet demon puppet, coincidentally the name of my high school grunge band. But hey, there’s Scream. A Paramount Plus film that I can’t honestly explain why I haven’t watched it yet. I watched Q-Force, but I haven’t watched Scream.

Sometimes I hate myself.

Scream 2022 is the first in the franchise not to be directed by the wonderful Wes Craven, owing to his 2015 death in real life. Directed by Matt Bettinelli who has a pretty good track record with films like Ready Or Not and Southbound. The less we think of Devil’s Due the better. V/H/S is polarizing, but commercially successful enough to spawn numerous sequels. I haven’t watched it. Written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busic, the latter of which wrote Ready Or Not, I think it’s fair to say the film is in good hands.

As a horror series, Scream has always been an interesting franchise to me. It parodies horror films while still being a horror film in itself, and as the series goes on the horror meta continues to overlap itself. The best example of this being that the original Scream, a parody of Halloween, is transformed in a film within its own universe in the sequel called Stab, which in turn is a meta on movie adaptations. The Stab sequels offered Wes Craven an opportunity to directly parody fandom culture and the idea of movie sequels without it being too on the nose. Characters can point out tropes and “rules” in the movie real life that reflect the horror movies that deliberately mimic the real life that parodies the horror movies that reflect real life that parodies the horror movies that meta commentaries-my nose is bleeding.

The new flick hones in on the “requel,” trope as one character calls it, the reboot-sequel where the studio wants to reboot the movie in a way that won’t piss off the fans, so they bring back characters we recognize, introduce family members of the old roster to tie it together, and use it as a way to pull in a new cast of young faces. Sisters Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) find themselves the target as a new Ghostface. There’s a lot of meta commentary on requels including references to the newer Halloween movies and a few other recent titles.

And of course we can’t forget the old crowd. Neve Campbell is back as Sidney Prescott with Courtney Cox reprising Gale Weathers and Dave Arquette as Dewey Riley. Roger L. Jackson still provides the voice-work for Ghostface. Marley Shelton is back as Deputy Hicks from Scream 4 and they even have a cameo by Skeet Ulrich, aka Billy Loomis from Scream 1. Don’t worry, his cameo isn’t what you think. Unless it is. Heather Matarazzo from Scream 3 is also back.

It’s impressive how the series keeps its commentary on horror films and sequel franchises interesting through five films over twenty six years. The old guard from the franchise are relegated more toward background supporting characters, and it makes sense since in-universe they are essentially experts on the subject and would be somewhat overpowered. Dewey knows what he’s talking about, even if he also knows that none of the young folks are going to take him seriously when he gives advice because that’s how horror movies work. There’s a great part of the film where Sidney and Gale are dealing with a moment right out of a horror film, and immediately identify it for what it is, pissing off the villain.

I mentioned in my review of Velma that the show fails because underneath the exhausting meta commentary there is no solid show. Scream is a prime example of that idea done well, not to mention it doesn’t exhaust the viewer with constant quips and self-acknowledging references. Underneath the jokes about horror, there is a genuinely solid series to build the plot off of. It mocks horror movies in a way that is completely respectful to them and shows the creators clearly have a passion for the genre. The best form of parody comes with a respect of the original work, not contempt (Velma). It’s a world where characters know they are essentially living in a horror movie, and act accordingly.

The worst thing I can say about Scream 2022 is that the new cast isn’t quite as strong as the old one. They’re not bad, but they’re not exactly memorable either. But Scream VI is on the way and releases on March 10. It’s disappointing that Dave Arquette decided not to extend his contract to be in the new film, since Dewey has been a staple of the series since the start, but we all have to move on eventually. Hayden Panettiere is coming back as Kirby Reed from Scream 3.

Rating: B+