Scream (2022)

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Running Time: 114 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sonia Ben Ammar, Roger L. Jackson, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell

Over 25-years since Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson's meta-reinvention of slasher films, an air of trepidation hangs over the fifth instalment. While the series has maintained wit and timeliness across the sequels, Craven's passing in 2015 meant this would be the first Scream film he wouldn't direct. It's with a sigh of relief that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have crafted a worthy successor to the four-films which came before it.

Twenty-five years after the initial murders which shook Woodsboro, a new Ghostface emerges intent on resurrecting secrets from the town's past. Central to it is Sam (Melissa Barrera), returning to the town after her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) is attacked, and seeks help from veteran cop Dewey Riley (David Arquette), reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox), and final girl Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell).

While it can seem confusing this shares the originals title, it's just another layer which enforces the fifth instalment's focus on legacy sequels (or as the characters refer to it, "re-quels"). The aim is to focus on new characters while reminding audiences of what worked in the original, including bringing back beloved characters, much like in Nia DaCosta's Candyman and David Gordon Green's Halloween. While the film falls into the tropes it takes aim at, screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick additionally deconstruct toxic fan culture and even the franchise itself with such bite.

Accompanying the meta nature are violent kills which capture the series' spirit in ways which never feels gratuitously gruesome. Tension is evident, particularly in a standout set-piece which plays with audience expectations of jump scares, although one wishes it tapped into the visceral terror Craven delivered with Drew Barrymore's iconic opener or the car escape from Scream 2. Thankfully there's more success with the humour, as there's always time for genuine laughs without them feeling intrusive.

A decade since their last appearance, it's heartwarming to see the franchise mainstays settle back into their roles with ease. Cox and Arquette convey the tension in Gail and Dewey's long-tempestuous relationship, while Campbell captures Sidney's weariness at dealing with another murderous iteration of Ghostface. They guide the new group through this situation, and while some characters feel less developed, the performances compensate to ensure they feel distinctive. Jasmin Savoy Brown steals scenes as the horror aficionado, although Jack Quaid is a charming treat as the boyfriend who rolls with the punches while accompanying his girlfriend.

Central to the story is a terrific Melissa Barrera, depicting her regret and inner demons which have caused an estranged relationship with younger sister Tara, played by a winning Jenna Ortega. They're compelling parts of this new entry which addresses the present while honouring the past, feeling like a natural progression of the series. None of the satirical bite, tension, or heart have been lost, and one believes Wes would be proud of this successor.

Scream is available in cinemas now