Scream ★★

I'll survive.

An echo of a forgotten past, manifesting as a glossy new coat of paint atop the pillars of modern structure, seeking a pitch perfect resonance from its hazy reprisals of the familiar. Despite the glowing adoration of its source material, an energy that glows through the screen, it remains seemingly unable to firmly grasp its roots and propel itself into a fresh space, trapped between retreading a bygone era and trying to carve out new ground for a new generation. The ultimately hollow pastiche is not without its occasional wit and charm but lacks the necessary weight to cement itself as a groundbreaking installment in its iconic world.

Wes Craven's Scream drew an almost impossibly thin line between groundbreaking horror rooted in thematic convention and a precise inverse of the very same, a sharp satirization of the genre and form it existed within. It is a defining example of knowing the rules before you break them, a seasoned horror director who once helped etch the boundaries of perfected slasher cinema now deconstructing and redefining with precision. When it pulled the camera back to exist as a commentary on horror and slashers as genres, it is wholeheartedly earnest as much as it is incisive and witty. It's a delight to witness and the shine never seems to wear off as it toys with the digetic suspense of Carpenter's eternal Halloween score and as Matthew Lillard cackles with psychotic glee while Skeet Ulrich delivers a monologue soaked in blood.

In comparison, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's introduction to the franchise feels like little more than a shadow of the former, attempting to follow steadily along that impossibly thin line and instead tripping over itself, fallen at the hands of its shaky aim towards a statement that reads as hollow as any statement might coming from those who lack the critical experience. This is no slight on Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett as directors, but to comment on your film's own construction with metafilmic framing to the same degree of efficacy that Craven did requires authentic voice, and thus the film's wider attempted deconstruction of "requel" horror and modern fandom fail to ring with their desired resonance.

It's not entirely airless, as it maintains a certain degree of competency above some of its weaker preceding franchise entries and the new team bring a strong modern tinge of wanton bone crunching, bloodthirsty brutality to it all that hits hard, and some of its emotional beats are surprisingly effective. Despite the failure to provide incisive meta commentary to the same degree the series once did, the world of Scream is still a great place to be in, and the return of Ghostface's visage is a welcome one. It's just a shame to poke fun at your own existence as one of many in a long line of classic reboots while failing to escape so many familiar trappings.

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