Scream ★★½

“Are you saying I’m trapped in a fucking fan fiction?”

It was only a matter of time before the Scream series — the Millennial’s original postmodern text — turned its attention to the recent trend of the so-called “re-quels” or “legacy sequels” peddled by the Hollywood machine on a seemingly regular basis as its Cultural Phenomenon Du Jour. Scream, not to be confused with Wes Craven’s Scream, is ironically (of course) one of these affairs.

You know the drill, two-and-a-half decades and four movies later: the movie knowingly subjects itself to self-ridicule, pointing out the inner workings of the genre and cinema culture while still conforming to the same exact tropes it’s trying to lampoon. We have been here before. We have been here too many times.

It doesn’t take long before Scream ‘22 reveals itself as a naked post-mortem of the culturally polarizing discourse (to put it very mildly) surrounding The Last Jedi, name-dropping “the guy who made Knives Out” as the person that made a Stab entry so controversial it literally triggered a campaign by “the real fans” (quotation marks are courtesy of the movie) to remake it.

It’s… definitely a cheap shot, one whose point just seems so exhausting and predictable and — worst of all — misguided! Rather than making sense of the topic it concerns itself with, the movie actively adds fuel to the (now-dim) flame by taking the side of the “misunderstood work” and blaming the whole kerfuffle on “the toxic fandom”, therefore painting a portrait of those who dare to hold a critical view of the TLJ analog as rabid psychos. I expelled the biggest, most audible sigh the moment this happened.

Even by the series’ own meta standards, Scream ‘22 is already tired. Its meta-commentary goes beyond the confines of its original domain that is the slasher genre to also encompass today’s franchise filmmaking at large. I think this speaks to the jarring absence of any discernible cultural trajectory of any specific movie genre, as commercial cinema has become its own genus, a homogenous mess of mass-market commodities engineered for maximum appeal.

The Scream franchise has simply run out of things to comment on, which in itself is scary. You know things are fucked when even irony is losing its function.

I’ll give the movie this: its take on the traditional slasher machination — or rather, “Scream tropes” — still rivets! Radio Silence, taking the baton from the late Wes Craven, manages to craft a number of genuinely thrilling set-pieces that toy with the audience’s expectations (there’s a sustained sequence in the middle half that excellently demonstrates this). The genre thrills are largely still intact, which is no small feat given that the filmmaking team inherited such an influential property. 

The fact that we could definitely do without the movie’s blasé self-awareness means that Scream has effectively become Just A Slasher Movie — the very thing that gave birth to the franchise in the first place as a riposte. The cycle is complete — the perfect uroboros.

Rizki liked this review