Saturday, April 16, 2022

Radio Silence’s Scream 2022

You can tell the Scream franchise must be mainstream, because it is the only horror movie streaming on American Airlines’ Latin American flights. The latest still isn’t a reboot, but it openly toys with the recent practice of sequels that give the series a fresh start, while still maintaining the established world and continuity, like Candyman 2021. (It even returns to the simple, numeral-free title of the original film.) Yet, in a way the meta-franchise Wes Craven launched always did that. Once again, it is a new killer (or more likely killers, since the film reminds us “it is never just one”) that dons the Ghostface mask. Yet, like always, it (or they) are obsessed with Sidney Prescott and her friends in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett’s Scream 2022 (or Panico in Brazil), which you can watch on American.

Scream movies, no matter who it is underneath the Ghostface, they aren’t infallible. An intended victim can actually escape, which leads to genuine suspense. In this case, it happens in the latest cold kill opening. Tara Carpenter survives, but that turns out to be by design. The latest Ghostface hoped to lure her semi-estranged sister Sam back to Woodsboro, because she happened to be the secret love child of the original serial killer, Billy Loomis.

Of course, our mystery Ghostface also wants to pull Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley back into the game, because it wouldn’t be the same without them. In the meantime, the new copycat bumps off the obnoxious teens in Tara’s social circle.

Bettinelli-Olpin & Gillett, of the filmmaking collective Radio Silence, do a nice recapturing the knowing vibe of the original films. If anything, the characters are a little too cognizant of “following the rules.” Presumably, at some point panic would probably set in, if you suddenly found yourself in a slasher movie, unless it was your fifth go-round, like it is for Prescott and her fellow survivors.

The problem is the Carpenters are a little dull, even though Sam is starting to see bloody visions of the father she never knew. They are positioned as the new protagonists, but the film really needs the old reliables to ride in and save the day again. In contrast, the new killer or killers happen to be quite slyly conceived and played with gusto in the final revelatory scenes.

Scream formula still works, especially since Radio Silence understands they need to break from it just a bit, to maintain the franchise tradition. Plus, Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox are totally cool as Prescott and Weathers, like veteran gun slingers, returning for yet another shootout. However, there will only be two long-time characters who could return for a subsequent film, which probably wouldn’t be enough to successfully support another Carpenters-led film. Recommended for fans of the franchise and meta-horror, Scream 2022 is your only choice on American and it recently released on DVD.