Scream (2021) keeps an old franchise relevant

Owen Reimer, Entertainment Editor

Almost every horror movie franchise is built around a mystical and terrifying creature. Whether it’s Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Chucky, countless classics have stood the test of time because they always have one main villain to frighten the audience with. “Scream,” on the other hand, maintains relevancy by poking fun at every other horror movie, while still delivering high grade slasher action and mystery. The latest “Scream” installment plays to all of the previous films’ strengths and displays how to perfectly keep a dying franchise thriving. 

“Scream” (2022) follows Sam Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), the daughter of Billy Loomis, the killer from the original film. She returns to Woodsboro, the town where each movie takes place, following the stabbing of her sister. What follows is a blood-filled whodunnit that doubles as a commentary on the modern day film industry.

The film introduces the idea of a “requel”: a sequel that essentially reboots the franchise, while keeping familiar faces along for fan bait.  Referencing “Halloween” and “Star Wars” the characters seem totally conscious of the surrounding plot  as they fall victim to almost every trope they talk about. The satirical awareness that surrounds everything propels the story from a basic thrasher to a wonderful satire of modern Hollywood, which is one of the things that makes “Scream” great.

Instead of feeling like a forced addition to an old franchise, “Scream” actually uses the already established films as a way to add to the ‘meta-ness.’ The killer is a massive fan of “Stab,” the fictional series based off of the actual killings of previous movies. This allows for callbacks that feel intelligent, which is a rare occurrence in the reboot business. The introduction is basically a carbon copy of the iconic phone call scene from the original, but they do so in a creative way that actually propels it to a fantastic opening sequence.

More often than not, horror movies focus so much on enticing action sequences that well-written characters get left in the dust. The characters in “Scream,” however, are surprisingly well-rounded and interesting. It’s nice to have teenagers that seem relatable, instead of the usual group of stereotypes that older generations seem to envision as kids. It’s rare that a slasher can build up a large amount of empathy and interest.. The stakes feel much higher and more real when the people getting murdered actually feel like real human beings.

Every actor shines as well, delivering modern and honest takes on classic character tropes. Ortega shines as the lead, but every side character goes above and beyond to push the movie to the next level. Jack Quaid plays Carpenter’s boyfriend and shines as a charismatic straight man, while Jasmin Savoy Brown steals the show as the hyper aware friend who knows too much about horror movies. Nobody flies under the radar, and even the smallest of characters have incredible moments.

The returning characters also play major roles, as all three major leads from prior films reprise their characters. Sidney (Neve Campbell) and Gale (Courtney Cox) especially hold up well among the cast of new people. After a decade, their characters have parted ways, but seeing them return one last time to put a stop to this recurring phenomenon is wonderful. Their inclusion feels much more natural then a lot of other franchises’ desperate attempts at calling back to their heydays. 

A fantastic part of a “Scream” movie is that anyone could be behind the ghostface mask. Where other slashers have to rely solely on the fear of the antagonist, the whodunit element adds another layer of creepiness and confusion. This film especially does a fantastic job of creating a lack of trust among the characters and the audience. Because anyone could be a murderer at any time, everyone is kept on their toes in a really frightening way.

“Scream” (2022) is a refreshing mystery movie that doubles as a satire. It’s incredibly fun while still keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. It’s nice to see a creative spin on an old franchise that actually feels fresh and new, while still maintaining the key elements that started it in the first place. Even as a satire of ‘requels,’ the film succeeds as one itself.