Scream ½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Nothing is sacred, the art of filmmaking and storytelling is dead and you better hold on tight to those pieces of media you love and cherish (especially those of film and/or tv) because the big bad, Hollywood machine is on its way to rehash it, and rehash it badly. 

I’ll find a slight sense of vindication once the bad taste’s washed from my mouth but this was everything I’d expected it to be and worse. 

The latest in this already tired and cringe-inducingly titled “legacy sequel” craze, it’s a strong contender for the worst of the bunch. This time taking stabs at its audience than anything that’s occurred on the big screen in the decade since the fourth released, Betinneli-Olpin and Gillet prove that two minds aren’t in fact, always better than one. A Scream film by the loosest of definitions this is a confused mess that, despite its continued insistence otherwise, is solely for financial gain. 

Purportedly a criticism of toxic fandoms, it’s ironically as entitled and snobby as the target of its punches. An incredible scapegoating of the notion of reception it can’t help but feel like a dismissive and manipulative film. To credit it, it’s somewhat ahead of the curve, preemptively slamming the people who’ll adopt a negative response to a badly crafted product. Most sickening of all however is the toeing of the line that this is some sort of honouring of Wes Craven. ‘#ForWes’ has heavily populated my Twitter timeline of late, previous cast members have blessed this film on his behalf, and similar mantras about its intention can be seen at points throughout, as well as the credits. Only the character they named after the series’ director is recipient of the longest and most brutal murder and there’s frequent comments made regarding the sequels that followed the 1996 film… so which is it? A complimentary piece, or a film to divorce the whole IP from the cast and crew who first (and best) realised it?

Used by the film as though it’s a get out of jail free pass, it’s really fucking morbid to invoke the legacy of a dead man as a metaphorical human shield to soak the impact of its own shortcomings.

Moving aside from the grim nature around this quote: “requel”, I’ve nothing positive to report in terms of its actual substance either. I’m happy to sound like one of the guys this is poking fun at, but senseless, Tarantino style hyper violence isn’t really a staple of the Scream films, and it’s appearance here is a bad attempt at veiling other elements’ poor quality. Statically shot and not tethered by a sense of character, the directing duo’s style fails to translate over to the slasher from the pretty decent Ready or Not, instead it bears all the unimaginative features of modern action and horror cinema. Badly presented in a visual sense and solely for shock value, I was impressed rewatching Scream 3 (and to a lesser extent 4) that they never became what they were satirising, this however, is all that, as well as another instalment into the modern wave of teenage horror that is so slick and polished, it’s wholly charmless and inconsequential. Which is frankly a whole essay in itself.

This entire film is void of consequence, and that’s a cardinal sin in such a genre. Revealing the majority of the new cast survived, and more or less writing out those that remain from the original, you can guarantee within a week that a sixth film will have been green-lit, this film alone missed the point, I expect a new mini-franchise would further lower the standards of horror film to a level that’s subterranean. 

Having probably already wandered into the territory of rambling, I’ll shift through the following pretty quickly, it’s technically incompetent. My point perfectly encapsulated by the scene where Melissa Barrera’s character reveals the identity of her biological dad to her clueless sister. A portion of the film that has a ridiculous amount of cuts in it, so many in fact that the Taken 3 fence jump scene is blushing - don’t worry though, the shoddy editing remains an ever-present. Visually unremarkable, the charm and compactness of the previous films is gone, and it’s replaced by nothing. The technical quality here makes channel 5 originals look like they’ve had 100 million plus, pumped into their productions.  

A review I read here on letterboxd perfectly sums up my main issue. It’s not a million miles away from the Fear Street trilogy, and that’s a major problem. Between its shoddy quality, the invocation of its franchise predecessors, or constant name dropping of relatively recent horror releases, it’s a constant reminder of all the significantly better things you could commit your time too.

A passing of the torch that simultaneously refuses to let it go, I can’t see any redeeming factors in this. Pretentious as much as it is predictable, horror cinema is in a sorry state currently.

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