Jenna Ortega stars in Scream (2022)

Hello horror fans and slasher stans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m gearing up to go see the sixth installment of the Scream franchise soon but before I do that, I wanted to review all of the previous movies here. For these reviews I plan on going in-depth so if you have not seen the movies, I advise you not to read this review yet. Scream is a great slasher franchise but the best parts of it are surprising events and reveals so definitely have a watch first because reviewing without spoilers is never easy with these movies.

When I do review Scream VI, I will have a first reaction spoiler free review followed by a spoiler heavy review. For the rest of these, watch first or risk the fun of the movies being taken away by reading. I’m going to be talking about individual scenes, characters, and themes so it’s all fair game in these reviews. I will only spoil things from the first five movies in this review so you don’t need to have seen all the Scream films to keep yourself spoiler free, just the first five. If you want to read my review of any of the previous films you can do so here – ScreamScream 2,  Scream 3 and Scream 4.

Scream 2022 in Historical Context

While Scream movies are fun to watch on their own, regardless of what was going on in the world, it can help to have some historical context to better understand what the films are trying to say. The first film was one of the earliest to make meta commentary on horror films and it revived the slasher genre. Scream 2 and 3 were commentary on sequels and trilogies respectively. And Scream 4 makes the point that horror is different more than a decade after the third movie.

If you take a quick look at what movies are playing in any given theater, you can place where Scream (2022) is. Almost every well selling film in theaters is a sequel or a reboot, or they walk a gray area where we have legacy characters from an original property introduced to new characters in the modern era in an attempt to please both old and new fans. Some easy examples of films like these are The Force Awakens and Halloween (2018) where it is a sequel to the original film series but it also has a plot almost identical to the original. Some stakes are raised when dealing with beloved characters and the newer ones get time to develop so the audience can become attached to the fresh blood (pun intended).

These kinds of films are a gamble because you risk simply pleasing the long time fans in making a fan service project which only the core fandom appreciates, you focus completely on the new material in an attempt to bring in the new crowd and alienating long term fans, or you risk ruining the franchise entirely by attempting to please both sets of fans and have a film of lesser quality as a result.

When Scream announced it was going to be back in theaters and just call the movie Scream instead of Scream 5 it was an obvious comparison to think this would be just like Halloween (2018). Scream fans weren’t happy with the title change but could understand why the filmmakers would make the choice. We’ll get more into this later but the difficult fan split is one Scream (2022) was going to have to navigate by default. In other words, there was no world where everyone would be happy with this movie. You had people going in who would hate it simply because it wasn’t what they had spent years speculating it would be. And, on the other hand, you had people who may have never even seen a horror movie, let alone a Scream film before.

Also, this sequel was in limbo for a long time for several reasons. First off, Wes Craven, had passed away. And without him as a director, it was unclear if anyone could helm the ship. Secondly, Scream was stuck in the whole Miramax debacle created by the absolutely horrid behavior of Harvey Weinstein. Figuring out where this property would land was no easy task.

Finally, at this time, slashers weren’t all that popular. People had gotten used to seeing films with a more psychological nuanced approach to horror with films like The Babadook, Get Out, and Midsommer. All fantastic films in their own way, but not the bloody, action oriented slasher style of film popularized before the 21st century. It was unclear if Scream could pull this off at all, especially considering Halloween (2018) was a decent success but not entirely groundbreaking and had some mixed reaction from both old and new fans.

With all this in mind Scream (2022) needed to walk a delicately balanced tightrope just to keep people in theaters until the end of the movie.

So, did the filmmakers succeed here and pull off the impossible, making a new film off an old franchise that could live up to the hype of long time fans, while at the same time introducing an entire new audience to characters they would care about?

Let’s dive in and find out.

Spoilers follow below!

The Cold Open

In any film you have to grab audiences right from the beginning. The first thing shown on film has the potential to either get the audience excited enough to keep watching or awful enough to make someone walk out of the theater. But with a Scream film this necessity is elevated to the next level. It also has to be original and completely surprising to the audience. And this audience is usually a savvy horror fan audience who has seen nearly every scenario played out in other horror films and knows what to expect in a Scream opening. The expectation of surprise makes it much more difficult to surprise the audience.

This movie starts just as the first one did, with the ringing of a phone. There is no sound of a scream as there was in the first though. We see a house in the suburbs very much like the house Casey Becker was in at the start of the first movie. Inside we see Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) stare at a landline phone and just switch it off. Right away, this movie is establishing it is different from the original. It almost makes no sense there is a landline at all here.

Tara is texting with her friend Amber (Mikey Madison) on her cell phone. She invites Amber over and entices her with an unlocked liquor cabinet. Tara takes a puff of her asthma inhaler and the landline rings again. Tara gives in and answers the phone.

The voice on the line is the one we’ve all come to hear, the voice of the Ghostface killer. The voice asks for someone named Christina and then seems to accidentally clue Tara into the fact this caller knows Christina from “group.” He gives his name as Charlie and tries to leave a polite message. Tara pushes to find out what kind of group “Charlie” is talking about. Charlie then says Tara sounds exactly like Christina describes her in group. Tara keeps pushing Charlie for more details. And Charlie mentions Christina said Tara loves movies. In particular, Tara loves scary movies. Charlie then says Christina wondered the other day, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” This is a direct nod to the original. The older crowd is probably expecting Tara to say something like Halloween or Alien or something like that but Tara goes with The Babadook. She says it’s an amazing meditation on motherhood and grief.

And not to belabor the point, but Tara is right, that is what The Babadook is. Whether it’s a great film or not can be debated but it certainly qualifies as a new generation of horror films. Charlie thinks it’s too fancy but Tara says it’s “elevated horror.” Still scary but with complex emotions and underpinnings.

As a side note, I kind of hate the term elevated horror, because to me, horror is horror. A movie is not necessarily better or worse because it goes into deep intellectual territory. And even if you love so called elevated horror, you may still enjoy just a fun slasher film, which is what Scream is at its core.

Charlie asks Tara if she’s seen Stab, the movie within the Scream movies that depicts the events of Scream films. Tara says she has seen it a long time ago at a sleepover. Charlie seems surprised Tara doesn’t know more about it considering she lives in Woodsboro, and Christina talks about it all the time in group.

I should also mention, at this point, Tara is playing with a kitchen knife in a wood block, practically identically to how Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker does in the first Scream film.

Tara remembers the movie being “super nineties, everyone had weird hair, really over lit.” Charlie asks if she remembers the beginning. Tara says she doesn’t, other than it started with a kill scene. Charlie says that’s right and that it’s a girl at home alone who answers a wrong number and starts talking with the killer who makes her play a game.

As the audience, we know where this is going. Tara is the girl in the opening. And, considering how many times we’ve seen the person at the beginning of the movie die after answering the phone, it seems Tara can’t possibly be long for this world.

Charlie then asks Tara if she’d like to play a game. Tara gets frightened and hangs up the phone. She uses her phone to secure the alarms on her home and automatically lock the doors. And she texts Amber, telling her what the situation is.

We see here, this is a whole new world, where the technology has changed and while the killer may be savvy, the potential victims have more defenses than they used to.

The phone rings again and Amber is texting her concern for her friend. But then she says Tara should answer. Tara texts to ask how Amber knows her phone was ringing. The text comes back saying, “This isn’t Amber.”

Now we have a threat to Tara coming from two directions. First, is the voice on the phone the killer? It’s safe to assume it is because of the history of these movies, but this one may be different, so maybe the voice is the misdirection. And, while we don’t know who Amber is yet, it’s likely she’s in trouble because it’s not her texting. The juxtaposition of the cell phone and the landline is really interesting here because now we know, even if, Tara has more defenses, the killer can use at least some of those defenses against her.

Tara goes to dial 911 on her cell but she gets a text telling her if she doesn’t answer the landline, Amber will die. This is just like what happens with Casey, only this time, it happens over a cell phone.

Tara picks up the phone and says, “This isn’t funny Amber.” The killer replies, “I told you, this isn’t Amber.”

That line just delivers chills so well. If we had any doubt earlier, now it’s really obvious Tara is about to die. She’s doing things just like Casey did but with modern technology. And the killer is on to her. The killer then sends video of Amber brushing her hair and says Amber shouldn’t leave her phone lying around for anyone to clone.

The killer then gets to his game. Stab movie trivia with three rounds. Tara begs him to ask her about movies she knows something about like, It Follows, Hereditary, or The Witch. All instances of what Tara calls elevated horror. (You should watch those movies btw)

But the killer presses on asking about who the main character in Stab was. Tara knows it was Sidney Prescott who lived on Elm. And the killer mentions Sidney is in every movie but the last one. The killer asks who wrote the original book the Stab movies are based on. Older fans know this is Gale Weathers. Tara takes a minute to remember but she gets it right. The killer then wants to know who plays the girl who answers the phone at the start of the Stab movies.

Sometimes reviewing a Scream film is like peeling an onion because of the layers here. Tara is obviously the person the killer is referring to in this movie but in the Scream movie it was Drew Barrymore but in the Stab movie this was played by Heather Graham.

It looks dicey for Tara for a moment but Tara has an intensely powerful tool that was never available to Casey Becker. Google on her phone. She looks up the answer and gets it right.

The final question is, “Who was the killer in Stab 1?” Tara is absolutely confident she has this one. It was Billy Loomis who was Sidney’s boyfriend who was played by Luke Wilson.

This is a really clever twist because in the Scream movies the Stab actor who did play Billy Loomis was Luke Wilson. But, us older Scream fans know there were two killers at the end of Scream. Yet, we’ve never seen the end of Stab 1 in the Scream movies so we don’t know if the movie within the movie does have two killers.

The killer tells Tara she got it wrong, there was Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. The movie here is playing with us because in the first Scream movie. Drew Barrymore gets the name of the killer of the first Friday the 13th film wrong by not remembering the twist to that movie. So, weirdly, the Scream movies have now been around long enough, they are the twist in the answer.

And, knowing Tara got the answer wrong, we’re sure she’s going to die, and so is Amber, most likely. That’s how the first Scream played out so no reason to expect otherwise here.

Tara runs to the door to go get to Amber who apparently lives nearby. But when she opens the door, she’s stabbed by someone in a Ghostface costume. She pushes the person out of the house and re-arms the security. This has alerted the police as well. But then, it seems the killer is able to disarm the system. Tara and the killer go back and forth with this for a while as Tara gets more panicked. And the landline rings once again. The killer has a bonus question, asking if he made it inside the house before she could rearm. Ghostface then pops up and stabs Tara again. Tara takes some major hits and almost makes it to the door, just as sirens and lights blare outside. The killer raises the knife and we cut to the title card.

Considering the history of the films, the audience assumes Tara is no more.

We meet the New Characters

At the start of a Scream film we usually don’t care who it is too much. We know they won’t be around for long. So, the filmmakers had a choice after Tara is attacked. They could either catch us up with Sidney Prescott, as has happened in every other Scream film, or they can introduce us to new people here, with the assumption that whoever we see next is our main character.

We cut to a bowling alley in Modesto, California, where a woman seems to be on her break and we see her take some prescription medication. This is Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera). She’s joined by Richie Kirsh (Jack Quaid), her boyfriend who also works at the bowling alley. They have a bit of really silly banter but seem happy enough to be together. Sam gets a text and calls the person who texted her. This is Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) who is Tara’s friend and the son of Deputy Judy Hicks who we were introduced to in Scream 4. He tells Sam that Tara was attacked. And Wes tells Sam, Tara is alive.

This little bit of information just turns the whole film on its head. There has never, not ever, been someone who survived the first phone call in a Scream movie. Tara already has legendary status in this franchise and it’s the one piece of information that could surprise older fans. Bizarrely, but effectively, the twist of the cold open happens after the cold open, setting us up for some entirely different story expectations.

Sam wants to know who did this and Wes tells her it was someone in a Ghostface mask. Sam looks horrified at the news. She tells Richie she has to go to be there with her sister and Richie says he’s going too.

We go back to Woodsboro where we meet Wes, Amber, Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding), and Liv McKensie (Sonia Ammar). Chad is dating Liv and he delivers the exact dialogue Billy Loomis does to Sidney about taking their relationship to the next level, only he’s talking about connecting on location sharing on their phones. Wes thinks this is a bad idea because you’d want to become more anonymous with a killer on the loose.

We find out Chad was just interrogated by Judy Hicks about Tara’s attack. The information about it being a Ghostface attack is still not out to the public but Mindy is sure by the second or third killing it will be. Amber says there wasn’t a first killing because Tara is alive. Mindy says Tara could still die or the killer could come back for her.

The last person in our little circle of new characters/suspects is Vince Schneider (Kyle Gallner) who seems to have briefly dated Liv. Apparently he’s been online stalking Liv, posting creepy stuff and he knows Tara. He’s not a part of the friend group but they know him. Amber notices bruises on Chad’s arms and says Tara fought back hard. Chad says the bruises are from football practice.

Wes gets a text from Tara and everyone from the friend group but Liv goes over to see her.

On the drive to Woodsboro, Sam gives Richie a rundown of the Stab movies and what happened in Woodsboro in the past. Richie says he’s never seen the Stab movies but they sound an awful lot like Halloween. Richie asks if Sam knows why someone wearing the mask would want to kill her sister. Sam says she doesn’t know.

At the hospital we see a banged up but recovering Tara. Sam makes it and Tara seems surprised her sister even came. Sam tells Richie she used to babysit everyone there. This is kind of a horror nod, although I’m not sure if it was intentional but Jenna Ortega who plays Tera has been in a lot of horror films, including one called The Babysitter.

Richie is introduced to everyone and we learn the Carpenter sister’s mom is out of town. She doesn’t seem to be the most attentive mother. Amber suggests giving Tara space and everyone but Sam and Richie clear out. Amber makes sure Tara has her extra inhaler. Richie waits outside the room so Tara and Sam can catch up. Ortega and Barrera start to have great performances here with Tara telling Sam how scared she was and Sam wanting to be there for her sister.

The rest of the friend group go to a local hangout spot where they are playing pool where they talk about how Sam kind of suddenly abandoned Tara and hasn’t come back until now. Mindy starts suspecting Wes of having motive of attacking Tara. But she also says they are all suspects. Essentially, Mindy is taking up the Randy role of the previous films. The only one Mindy rules out is Liv because she’s, “way too boring to be a psycho.”

The Attacks Escalate

Vince shows up and he and Chad get into an argument to the point where Vince pulls out a knife. He goes outside and the rest of the group is kicked out as well. Vince is, shall we say, relieving himself when he’s caught in glaring headlights and we hear the Nick Cave song, Red Right Hand which has played in most of the Scream films, so we know whoever is in the car, is the killer. Vince goes to see who it is but there is no one in the car. And then Vince is stabbed by Ghostface.

At the hospital, Sam and Richie are watching over Tara. Richie has started to watch the Stab movies to prepare himself for what is coming. Sam goes to get something to eat. She takes a pill and looks into the mirror to see a bloody vision of Billy Loomis talking to her. We learn she is taking anti-psychotics from Billy and he says she can’t run from who she is and she should tell Tara why all this is happening. As the audience, we have no idea yet why Sam would have anything to do with Billy Loomis but it was sort of nice to see Skeet Ulrich back in the series, even if he’s nothing more than a hallucination.

Then Sam’s phone rings. It’s the voice of the killer. He says he knows her little family secret. Sam dares him to come and get her and Ghostface pops out of the door behind her. Sam gets away and finds police to help her but the killer is gone. The call came from Amber’s phone but since her phone was cloned, that doesn’t mean much. Also, the police at this point have found Vince’s body. Richie says maybe Amber is the killer. Deputy Hicks asks Richie where he was during all this and he gives the very weak excuse of watching Netflix.

Hicks and Sam get into a bit of an argument and we learn Sam used to be a troublemaker and Hicks is now a sheriff.

Sam asks Richie and Amber to leave so she can talk to Tara. She then gives Tara the information as to why everything is happening. Turns out, Sam, is the daughter of Billy Loomis. Sam and Tara are actually half sisters. Sam confronted her mother about this and accidentally reveals who her father was in front of the man who raised her. And this is what caused the divorce of the Carpenter sisters parents and Sam to leave. Sam was sworn to secrecy by her mother which led her down a bad path to the point she had to leave.

Tara tells Sam to get out. This is one of the best scenes of the whole franchise. It’s emotionally raw and you really feel the tension between the sisters. Outside Tara’s door, Sam runs into Richie, who has heard the whole thing. Sam tells Richie to leave. And that this is the part in horror movies where you want to yell at the characters to get out and Richie should get out now. Richie insists he’s not leaving and tells Sam he loves her. Richie asks what the next move is. Sam says they need to go talk to an expert.

Welcome Back Dewey, and We get the Rules

The expert, as it turns out, is Dewey. He makes sense as the expert considering he’s been through this whole thing four times already. But he is the first legacy character we see and it’s already a third of the way in. Dewey is watching the news about the attacks in a little trailer all alone. Apparently his and Gale’s on again off again relationship is solidly in the off stage. He even turns on Gale’s show.

Sam knocks on the door and Dewey demands to know one good reason he should talk to her. She says she is Billy Loomis’ daughter. Dewey points out that’s a terrible reason for him to talk to her. He reluctantly lets them in and is immediately suspicious of Richie. But he does give them the rules for surviving a Stab movie.

The rules are as follows.

  1. Never trust the love interest. They seem sweet, caring, and supportive but then welcome to act three where they’re trying to rip your head off.
  2. The killer’s motive is always related to something in the past.
  3. The first victim always has a friend group that the killer is a part of.

We know rule one is true because Billy Loomis was the killer in the first Scream. But we also know, this is not always the case, since Derek is not the killer in Scream 2. This one seems like it could go either way, but in this world, a lot of times it does turn out to be the love interest. We know rule 2 is true again because this is what happened with Billy Loomis. But it’s also not true because Stu Macher’s motive was just peer pressure. Again, it could go either way. Rule three we have seen be the case in several of these movies but Casey Becker was only barely a part of Sindey’s friend group so this one doesn’t have to be true.

Just as with most of the other films, this one lays down rules which can be broken but are widely assumed to be correct.

We get a brief glimpse of Sidney getting a call from Dewey. We learn she’s got kids and is married to someone name Mark. Dewey tells her what’s going on and warns her to stay away. Sidney wisely agrees not to come back.

Dewey then bites the bullet and texts Gale to tell her what is going on. We know Dewey can’t resist helping Sam so he shows up to the Meeks house where we see a tribute wall to Randy. Turns out he was Chad and Mindy’s uncle and we get to see Randy’s sister Martha.

Sam tells the group who her father was and they go over who might be a suspect. And we learn Vince’s mother was Stu Macher’s sister, so even that death is connected.

What’s a Requel?

Mindy clues into the fact this is not a sequel, it’s a requel. Mindy says fans are torn on the term but Liv asks if it was like the one the Knives Out guy did. This is funny on a couple of levels because what Liv is really referring to is The Force Awakens directed by JJ Abrams but she is mixing it up with The Last Jedi which actually was directed by the Knives Out guy, Rian Johnson.

Anyway, Mindy talks over how everyone hated the last Stab movie. Basically, she’s talking about toxic fandom. And she goes over what a requel is and that Sam is the star. It’s what I described at the start of this blog post, but applied to Scream. And, this is why Scream (2022) is not actually titled Scream 5. The filmmakers are playing with the audience by taking the real world thing of the fans being disgruntled and literally have it happen in this movie. After the sixth installment, we all pretty much call this Scream 5 but they opted to fool us all here.

Mindy give us requl rules. So, this movie actually has two sets of rules to lay out expectations, one involving the original and one involving the current film.

The requel rules are as follows.

  1. The kills must be connected to the original
  2. Legacy characters have to appear
  3. The killer has to be connected to someone that came before

These rules seem to be true in this film so far. The kills are connected to the original because Sam is related to Billy. All three main legacy characters, plus Deputy Hicks have all appeared already. And the last one could still be proven true but we won’t know until the reveal of the killer.

Mindy seems convinced the most logical killer is Sam. We know she didn’t attack Tara, but a lot of time there are two killers so she’s not ruled out.

The Obligatory Psycho Scene

All of the Scream films have had some connection or throw back to Psycho. In this one, it happens at the Hicks residence. First, Judy Hicks grabs a knife much like the one Norman Bates uses. Then, in a gender swapped scene, Wes showers as Sheriff Hicks gets a call from the killer. The killer says there are two deaths but when Hicks corrects him, the killer says by the time she gets back home, he’ll have gutted Wes.

Hicks races back home and we see a ridiculously long scene of Wes doing all the things that usually lead to jump scares, including not answering the phone, getting food from the pantry, and opening the refrigerator door. Yet when Wes does all these things, nothing happens. It subverts all of our expectations and goes on so long it starts to become funny.

But before we see all that, Ghostface kills sheriff Hicks outside the house in broad daylight. Just when we think Wes is safe, he locks the front door and gets attacked by Ghostface. It’s an uncomfortably violent attack.

Sam shows up but it’s all over already. There Sam meets Gale Weathers for the first time. They kind of bond over how Judy didn’t like either of them. Gale sees Dewey and they catch up a bit. Dewey thinks she’s just here for the story but she says she’s there for him. And we see pretty rapidly why they broke up. We also find out Dewey was asked to retire. And we find out Gale is running her show from New York.

Things Get worse

Richie seems to have gotten hooked on the Stab franchise. Sam realizes with all the cops investigating Sheriff Hicks’ house, no one is watching Tara. Sam and Dewey race back to the hospital where a very injured and still recovering Tara hears a noise and the lights go out. Tara manages to get to a wheelchair but Jenna Ortega really sells how much pain Tara is in here.

Tara’s phone rings but it’s Sam calling her. Tara doesn’t answer because she’s trying to get away. She finds bodies on the floor as she wheels herself down the hall. Sam races to the hospital.

Richie gets to Tara first but then he’s attacked by Ghostface. Sam calls Richie’s phone and Ghostface answers. Ghostface says Sam can pick if Tara or Richie dies. Sam hesitates, seemingly unable to decide, when Ghostface tells her, “Maybe you’re too weak for this franchise.” Sam says, “Maybe you’re right. Or maybe I’m just stalling for time f–khead.”

The elevator doors open and Dewey immediately gets some shots off at the killer.

Sam’s ruse here just elevates her to epic status, the same way Tara has already been elevated there. She’s smart. she knows how to turn things around on the killer, and she’d do anything to save her sister. In a lot of ways she’s like Sidney and it’s great to see.

There’s a big action scene in the hospital but the end result is Dewey dies. He only dies because he goes back to make sure the killer is dead by shooting the killer in the head. When he goes back, he gets attacked by Ghostface and loses.

David Arquette who plays Dewey is such a huge part of this franchise. His death was hinted at by Mindy earlier but even with it telegraphed it still really stings. And in a weird way the killer seems to feel the way a lot of fans do. As the killer delivers the final blow he tells Dewey, “It’s an honor.” And honestly, it kind of feels like it has been an honor having Dewey in these movies. He is hands down the most wholesome character and the most selfless one in the entire franchise. So, I’m just pausing here for a moment to say we should all give a big thanks to David Arquette for his five performances. It’s been great and we’re going to miss Dewey.

Sidney Returns and we reach the end of the Second Act

The only thing that could bring Sidney back to Woodsboro happens in this movie. When Dewey dies, she has to come to pay her respects. She meets up with Gale and all of our hearts break just a little more, knowing Gale or Sidney could also be next.

Sam and Tara get a moment to talk where Tara says she doesn’t blame Sam for who she is but she does for leaving her. Sam decides they are going to do the smart thing and get out of Woodsboro. Sam also meets Sidney who knows about Sam’s past. Sidney tells Sam running doesn’t work. Sidney and Gale want Sam to help them kill the killer.

Sam decides to leave anyway and she, Tara, and Richie get in the car to go. Sidney has put a tracker on their car.

In the car, Tara can’t find her inhaler and wants to go back to Amber’s house to get her extra one. Richie protests but finally agrees to go. At Amber’s house, which is actually, Stu Macher’s old house, there is a party going on. Amber, Liv, Chad, and Mindy are all there.

The Killer is Revealed

I could give you a blow by blow recap of everything that happens at Amber’s house but it is fairly close to exactly what happens at Stu Macher’s house in the first movie. I’ll give you the most vital parts but I’m definitely skipping some here.

There are a few changes and twists to what happens but they’re kind of minor. Mindy chastises Amber for going down the stairs alone and Chad seems suspicious of Liv when she wants to go upstairs with him.

Gale and Sidney do show up to the house. And we get the Randy scene from the first movie but this time it’s Mindy watching Randy have the same experience in the first movie.

Liv goes outside. Chad goes to look for her and is attacked. He’s wounded pretty badly but the killer runs when Amber and Richie show up with Tara. Richie tells everyone at the party to leave and most of them do. I will say Richie is pretty funny in his delivery here when he tells them leave. Richie goes to get beer from the basement and says he’ll be right back. Live comes back in upset her ride didn’t show up. So we’re down to Mindy, Liv, Tara, Sam, Amber and Richie as suspects.

Gale and Sidney race to the house to try to save the day. Mindy is attacked, Sam tries to save her. Amber sees the mess and thinks it’s Sam. Richie comes out of the basement and Liv rushes into the room. Amber says she was with Tara but everyone else was wandering around so one of them has to be the killer.

Liv found Chad and has bloody hands. She swears she’s not the killer and Amber says she knows and shoots Liv. We now know Amber is the killer and she welcomes us to act three.

Sam and Richie runs and Richie says there are always two killers. We do know this is not true at all. There has been at least one movie with a single killer. Regardless, both Sam and Richie have reason to suspect each other. Sam does have a knife though. Richie pitches the idea of Tara being the killer but Sam doesn’t buy it for a second.

Sidney and Gale finally arrive at the house to hear a scream. This is Amber running out of the house. Sidney and Gale know it’s a trap and Amber fires her gun. Gale is hit but she asks Sidney to go finish it for Dewey.

Sam finds Tara tied up in the closet but she seems to hesitate and we cut back to Sidney. She gets a call from the killer. Sidney says he’s the most derivative one of all since it’s staged at Stu’s house. Sidney says she’s bored and hangs up. She fires into a closet where Richie is hiding and wounds him. Sidney tells him to come out but he says he won’t since Sidney is firing her gun at everything. Ghostface pops out from behind Sidney and attacks her. Sidney goes down and she tells Richie to grab the gun but before he can, Sam grabs it. Richie cheers for her and says, “Thank God you’re okay.” And then he stabs Sam in the stomach and says, “Because I really, really wanted to be the one to kill you.”

Yep, Dewey called it perfectly here. And now we’re just left to wonder why.

The answer? Toxic fandom. Richie and Amber want to reboot the Stab series with them as the stars. Richie wants to bring things back to basics for the Stab movies. Richie and Amber essentially embody all the worst parts of obsessive fandom. They even met on Redditt where some of the worst fandom can exist. And with Sam’s father being Billy Loomis, Sam makes the perfect villain for their movie.

A lot of stabbing and fighting and yelling go down. Amber goes to get Tara from the closet. But big win, Sam trusts her sister who then flips the script and calls Richie. She nails Amber hard with a crutch and Sam is able to get away. Sidney has been injured but she’s not dead yet.

Gale and Sidney whale on Amber who nearly gets away but Gale and Sidney team up and long story short, Amber becomes a human s’more, allowing Gale to get some revenge for Dewey.

Richie is still going after Sam pretty hard and it’s a tough fight until Sam sees the image of a bloody Billy Loomis in a mirror. She then tells Richie she’s introducing a new rule. “Never f–k with the daughter of a serial killer.” Then she stabs Richie a ton of times. She even cleans of the blade the way Ghostface does now and again.

I’ll say it once more, the Carpenter sisters are legendary.

Sam shoots Richie in the head after Sidney reminds her they always come back. Amber does come back for a last scare but Tara shoots her and says, “I still prefer The Babadook.” This brings us full circle from the beginning.

At the end we see Mindy is still alive and so is Chad. Tara asks to go to a different hospital. Sam goes to thank Sidney and Gale. Gale says she’s not going to write a book about this whole thing. Sam asks if she is going to be okay and Sidney tells her she will, eventually.

We end with Sam and Tara hand in hand in the ambulance with news reporters converging on the scene.

A few notes on the film

The last credit says, “For Wes.” which is great since without him, there is no Scream. Also, having one of the characters named after him in this movie was a nice touch too.

Most of this movie is pretty well done. The acting is great, although at times it’s hard to buy both Richie and Amber as anything but the killers. Still, I can’t say I guessed this on the first try. I really only take issue with the third act because it is so similar to the original. I know what was the point but it felt a little forced.

Mindy and Chad seem like good characters, especially Mindy, but we don’t get a ton of screen time with them so it would have been nice to see a little more there.

I think the film does make good points about how obsessively loving something can turn people toxic but this one doesn’t exactly criticize the horror genre like the first few did. Mostly, this film is telling us what is wrong with film these days is not the films themselves, although they can be bad, rather the fans are what can sour a franchise. I think there is an argument to be made here. Most people don’t turn into deranged killers like Amber and Richie but there are way too many people who are exceptionally vocal online any time a beloved franchise does something like gender swap roles, or bring in people of color to make the film more representative of the world we live in.

Long Live the Carpenter Sisters

Being a horror fan it’s easy to be predisposed to like someone with the last name Carpenter. The name is an homage to John Carpenter who directed Halloween. But if the performances by these actors and their characters were uninteresting, this would be meaningless.

Both Sam and Tara play things about as smart as you can imagine, other than trusting Richie and Amber. Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera were full of chemistry with each other. They are completely believable as sisters and they both give top notch performances here. What’s great about them both surviving is this is like getting two Sidney Prescotts for the price of one.

Tara has an interesting story and she’s played well but we could have gotten to know her a little better through this movie. Sam is especially interesting considering her past and her dependence on anti-psychotics. She’s got major character potential but the one movie can only take us so far with that. For these issues, I don’t blame Ortega or Barrera at all. This is more about the writing and the fact that you can only take up so much time in a single film.

Horror is not an easy genre to act in. Most actors are called on to put out a huge range of emotions, not just fear, and these two women nailed their performances, leaving the audience just wanting more. Thankfully, there is more in the sixth film.

In Conclusion

This may not be the best Scream film but it’s up there with one of the best. There are some issues, mainly in the third act, but overall this delivers on the promise of restarting a dead franchise without killing it. It does introduce us to some pretty interesting new characters and gave us a chance to see the legacy character go at it one more time.

I will also say, this film works better in achieving its goals than The Force Awakens or Halloween do. It’s a fun movie with some decent meta commentary and lots of fun horror easter eggs and it’s got plenty of action. The violent scenes are the bloodiest so far but still not so gory that it’s distracting.

I definitely recommend watching this film to anyone, although I strongly recommend watching the others firs.

Next time I’ll be back with my spoiler free review of Scream VI. Did that one live up to the hype? You’ll have to read to find out. (Or you know, go watch the movie and form your own opinion)

Stab-ily yours,

Slick Dungeon


2 thoughts on “Scream (2022) aka Scream V – Movie Review

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