A Tired Franchise Whines Again

Scream 5, Paramount Pictures (2022)

When no one on God’s green Earth asks for a movie to be made, it usually means that it shouldn’t. Scream (2022), yes — they gave up on counting for this entry — is one of the most self-indulgent films to come out of Hollywood. The franchise has never produced a sequel that was as good as its 1996 debut because there’s a problem with this franchise: it was never worthy of being one. This new reboot/sequel, a “re-quel” if you will, stands as yet another reason why Hollywood needs to green light original works rather than resuscitate tired franchises for a new generation of movie fans.

The plot of this Scream is easy to discuss because there isn’t one. The entire movie is held together by the most ham-handed spackling of “and then” story-telling that I was begging for Ghostface to cut my throat twenty minutes in. This movie is not a movie. It is a sequel reboot that aims to introduce new characters into the Scream “canon” simply to sustain the franchise for profitability and not the craft of horror. Wes Craven is rolling in his grave right now, and unfortunately, Hollywood is right where it wants to be; finances over franchises. Scream follows the original nearly beat for beat, and the weirdest characters are still the killers.

A visit to the dentist is wondrous compared to this film. The entirety of the 1996 Scream is imitated during the 2022 re-quel, and it is done so poorly that I am wondering if Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett did not have a personal vendetta against Wes Craven himself. This kind of film can only be made to deliberately ruin a franchise, a la Rian Jonson’s brief Star Wars stint or the time Alan Alda directed a few episodes of M*A*S*H*. Occasionally, a cinematic vision of unmitigated pomposity crawls along, and conjures all who see it, regardless of race, creed, and level of sobriety, to ask the question, “an adult made this?”.

Hollywood has no clue how to recognize an original idea. They are incapable of seeing profits come from films that are not established franchises. Look how old, tired, and contrived the Scream formula has become. A killer with a phone terrorizes a girl in a town where the people have the spatial awareness of a pepper-sprayed Mr. Magoo. The brightest, sun-saturated day has Ghostface running around in black robes with a knife, and no one ever sees him, ever. I understand the 1996 entry was a tongue-in-cheek nod to the campy horror movies of the 1980’s, but time has moved on, and so should the Scream franchise.

This Ghostface killer doesn’t have the rhymes or the swag, but he’s still killing ’em. (Scream 5, Paramount, 2022)

This movie embodies everything that is wrong with the Hollywood machine; the obsession with past profits. Films are no longer being produced if they are not spawned from some long-established canon or franchise. Hollywood no longer has the guts to take on original ideas. The machine can only be lubricated by a guaranteed rate of return and this usually means grafting “new” entries directly to original works. The 2016 re-quel of Ghostbusters is the most glaring example of this flawed Hollywood paradigm. Why risk losing money with an unproven idea when you can re-quel the source material into a PC-whipped version of itself? Naturally, this means the talent is on par with the creative vision.

The acting lands between a high school theatre play and the sexless scenes of a porn. Every single line of dialogue sloshes out of this script like rancid sludge leaking out of a deep fat fryer. The characters whine throughout the entire movie about the flaws of modern horror films and how the originals are always the best. They even take stabs at Rian Jonson’s Star Wars entry. I have heard better critiques regarding this long-winded discussion from YouTuber’s, so I don’t want to hear it from a new cast of characters who are basically tearing apart the very movie they are in.

Ultimately, Scream is a poorly written movie that rides the coattails of a franchise that was never strong enough to be one. Scream (1996) was a fantastic jab at the 1980’s horror genre using a contemporary 1990’s setting to poke fun at a director and genre that was never supposed to be taken seriously, but was always entertaining. This re-quel of the Scream “franchise” is not entertaining at all and is instead as annoying as it is boring. In fact, the only real images of sheer horror are Skeet Ulrich and Cortney Cox. Not only is one more gruesome than the other, but none of the original stars are given a role that respects what they have done for the franchise. David Arquette came out a winner here with the death of his character, Deputy Dewey, he can at least be spared the embarrassment of having to star in a franchise whose rights should have been buried with Wes Craven.

Without compelling stakes or inventive motive, you don’t have a Scream film, you have a rudderless B-movie horror flick that fails to live up to even the worst entry of the series. The original Scream movie had an edge that was possible thanks to its cast. Mathew Lillard and Jaime Kennedy are great actors, and when their bloodied characters confront Neve Campbell in the third act it is genuinely thrilling. The identity of Ghostface was always a mystery until the very last act where character arcs and motives merge to form a twist that should surprise the audience. Billy Loomis wants to kill Sidney Prescott because her mom had an affair with his dad, which resulted in his parents being divorced. This emotional pain has driven Billy to get revenge on Sidney and her whole family by concocting the entire Woodsboro Murders. Scream (2022) has villains whose motives are to recreate what made the original Stab movies so great, and I quote, “you know what the biggest problem with the Stab movies is? There’s no more Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees. No bad guy to keep coming back — but the illegitimate daughter of the original master mind?!?! Now that’s a fucking villain.” The movie has no shred of integrity and constantly shouts a deluge of unintelligent opinions through its two-dimensional characters in hopes that mundane drivel can distract the audience from its poorly written story and direction.

Scream literally has characters screaming the plot to the audience, “Dewey had to die to show this wasn’t just some bullshit, cash-in, run-of-the-mill sequel, because OUR movie has fucking stakes!”. Lines like this slapped together atrocity are all over the movie in a vain attempt to show how edgy and smart the writers’ viewpoints are. Only a fool would write that line and actually think it adds something to their movie. Highlighting yet another problem Hollywood has had, which is telling the audience how to think instead of showing them how to feel. Scream is one of the worst movies to ever come out of Hollywood, and it is a slap across the face of Wes Craven. What should have been a faithful dedication to an immutable director of the horror film world was instead used as a platform to preach contrived viewpoints regarding the fall of a genre that Scream’s filmmakers clearly know nothing about. The fact professionals got together, saw the final cut of the film, and released it, proves the low bar Hollywood has set is too high for some of its writers and directors.

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