Scream 5 Review
Just like Thanos, a Scream reboot was inevitable. Modern filmmaking by studio hands is absolutely drenched in franchise-binding material. To reference the original trilogy, everything needs a sequel. Now, everything also needs a reboot, or as this new film tries to pen: a “requel”.
I was dubious heading into Scream 5. The trailers felt insignificant and lacking the meta-humor that made the originals so great. The new teenage cast felt like stand-ins just for the original characters who are still alive to make an appearance. And they completely gave away every moment in the first sequence. With all of that as prior knowledge going in, I was scared.
Before I actually dive headfirst into this film, I want to start with a few caveats. First, this is going to be spoilery. Normally, I like to keep reviews cleansed of big plot details, but the plot here is important. Scream is a commentary. It’s 100% supposed to be film satire. I’ve always applauded it for that. It’s impossible to mention what it’s trying to tell us about its contemporary film industry without mentioning what happens within the film itself.
The other caveat I want to state is that I did like the film. It’s going to feel like I’m ripping it for a bit, but I had a good time. It was a more thrilling experience than many of the current reboots and reshapings of classic horror franchises (cough*Halloween*cough). It just had a lot to say without actually sticking it in a meaningful and coherent way. So if you haven’t seen Scream 5, I recommend stopping here and returning after you’ve checked it out!
Scream 5 starts promising. It immediately sinks itself right back into the lore of the franchise – something I was worried it would only scratch the surface of. In the opening scene, characters are already throwing out references to the Stab series and poking at the rising trend of elevated horror. Every joke, every comment, every critique feels earned. For a series so entrenched in observing the horror landscape around it, Scream 5 fits itself right back into the pocket of meta-horror.
Unfortunately, though, Scream 5 goes so far into the meta-realm that it completely becomes a biproduct of that formula. It succumbs to the tropes and pitfalls of all the reboots nowadays. Nostalgia plays a large factor in this. The entire third act is literally an exact copy of the original film. Of course it wants to self-reflect on the original classic film, but to film it in the exact same house and do it in nearly a shot-for-shot recollection? It’s overkill.
Scream 5 doesn’t trust the audience enough to be daring enough or different enough. The rules are laid out, but also muddied up quite a bit as the film goes on. We lose Dewey in this film because he understands the rule that you have to make sure the killer is dead, but shouldn’t he also know the rule that you should never separate from the group? Dewey’s death was an homage to the original character being killed off in the reboot, akin to a Han Solo-like death, but it leaves another hole in the franchise and leads us to the biggest problem Scream has faced since the original.
Scream hasn’t had memorable new characters since its inception. Killing off mostly everyone, from the friend group in the original, to Randy in Scream 2, to Dewey in the latest installment, has left the well dry. Nobody substantial has entered the franchise since the beginning. I hold out hope for one new character this time around, as I thought Jasmin Savoy Brown was hysterical in the Randy-esque role. Every scene she was in, she stole the show.
But even with all of that said, Scream 5 is still a fun time at the theater. It’s the funniest installment by a large gap since the original. Intended or not, many of the characters had some memorable laugh-out-loud moments. The kills are gnarly and most of the tension is effective. It’s about as solid as any of these reboots have come and I’d give it the ok to see in theaters if you’re versed in the Scream lore.
And Dead Meat makes a cameo. That was sweet.