There is such little care in titling sequels these days that they can't even lazily stick a number on the end, hence the new Scream movie, which is titled simply Scream, but it is actually the fifth Scream. Anyway, I found Scream (2022) to be the best Scream movie since Scream 2 (1997), which is my personal favorite in this slasher series.
The new Scream is bloody, scary, funny, subversive, and meta as hell. It opens like the original Scream (1996), with a teenage girl home alone receiving a sinister phone call. The caller quizzes her on horror movies, and if she gets the questions wrong, it's curtains for her. As usual, the call is from someone disguised in a Ghostface mask and using an electronic voice changer. This time, however, the victim, Tara (Jenna Ortega), survives, resulting in her troubled and estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) re-entering her life.
Soon, classic characters from the original films return. First, former deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) is asked by Sam to help with the case. Then, news woman Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox) begins investigating, and lastly, "original final girl" Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) shows up after the bodies start piling up.
Scream 5 plays out like a reboot or, as characters in the actual movie say, "a requel." Yes, the characters we know and love turn up to pass the torch to a new, younger cast of characters. Of course, the new movie replicates set pieces from the first film, but the filmmakers add some wicked twists, and that is what really makes this one work. That, and the emotional drama at its core is good, even if it does slow the middle of the movie down a bit.
In all the Scream movies, it feels kind of forced when characters go through the rules of horror movies, but there are some hilarious riffs on the lameness of reboots here. There is a funny jab at the recent Star Wars sequels, specifically The Last Jedi. Hell, there is even a sly reference to Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.
This is the first Scream not directed by Wes Craven, who sadly passed away in 2015. The directors, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not), and writers, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, are respectful of Craven's legacy.