Rated R for being a slasher horror movie. The OG Scream was my first / second R rated movie. The thing that you really have to get past is the just the gore of people being stabbed. There's more commentary and innuendo when it comes to sexuality, but it is definitely part of the film. Also, couple that with the fact that teenagers are drinking throughout and doing morally questionable things, including swearing throughout. R.
DIRECTORS: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
My biggest advice for the new Scream movie: remember that it's just another Scream movie. That may seem extremely dismissive of the film, but know that I really enjoyed it. But the biggest thing that hurt my love for the movie is the reviews that said that it changed everything. It really doesn't. It's another Scream movie. In fact, I would go as far as to say it might be the second best Scream movie, but that's because I find Scream 2 to be disappointing.
Please give me some points. I mean, some of you will be wildly disappointed, but I really wanted to shotgun the first four Scream films before watching the recent entry. I mean, I know the first three movies intimately. I loved those movies. I own them on DVD (and I considered getting them on Blu-Ray because I imagine that the OG Dimension Pictures print is probably lacking by today's standards.) But I don't remember Scream 4 that well. I actually can't believe that it was made in 2011. But the Scream movies in general are special to me. They made horror something to be studied. Yeah, I've since learned that much of the horror community is pretty basic and afraid of change, but it doesn't change the fact that I now really like horror movies because of the original Scream. Maybe that's why it is so satisfying to get one of these movies every so often. These are movies that celebrate movies, albeit horror movies. As terrible as it is that people keep getting killed (which is why most people are watching these movies), Woodsboro hosts the greatest movie snobs in history. People have discussions about themes of film on a regular basis. Sure, if the Ghostface killer decided to visit me, I have no chance for survival. But as weird as it is, I love the dialogue as much as I do the suspense.
But I do have to talk about this entry of Scream. Why this entry works is because culture needed to be commented upon. I remember watching Scream 4 and wondering what was really being said. In the tradition of Halloween, Halloween, and the many other movies that are trying to requel themselves, I love that Scream got in the game by providing an actual, canonical sequel that refuses to ignore any of the entries in the franchise. Sure, the movie doesn't go out of its way to necessarily address every entry in the franchise so far. But it's nice to know that Sydney, Dewey, and Gail are still up to tricks. It's nice to know that people still remember Randy Meeks while fearing Billy and Stu. Even the dumber elements of Scream, notably the ultra-meta Stab films get a sufficient dose of attention. Perhaps it is the simultaneous acknowledgement that it all matters and the idea that it should be commented on that franchises are cherry picking the best elements from previous films that makes it so refreshing. Listen, I'm a guy who loves that Jurassic World exists without a confirmation that The Lost World also happened. But it always feels like a little bit of a cop out to pretend so much didn't happen.
With this entry of Scream, there's something very pure about the story. Maybe because it is a movie that is madly in love with the original story without being bogged down by the melodramatic retconning of Maureen Prescott. We don't really need to know about Cotton Weary or all of the side narratives that a single choice made. Instead, it is a pure analysis of the horror aspects of the original films take root. Now, I'm going to admit that the nostalgia card only carries so much weight. The fact that this requel is tied to Billy and Stu so heavily seems like it's aiming its target at me and my generation. The references are back, down to a three-degree deep refilming of the "Turn around, Jamie" sequence that I use to teach dramatic irony in my class. (Note: I also had a running commentary in my noodle that the characters are so dumb that they don't turn around when this scene happens before I realized that I wasn't turning around. I, too, am a dumb film character.) If this was your first entry into the Scream franchise, I can see these moments as alienating. But maybe this movie was only made for me and I can't deny that I kind of like that.
But my favorite thing still hasn't happened. Back when the original Scream came out, I really wanted Randy to be the killer. Everyone loved Randy and he was the movie obsessed one. He died in Scream 2, which stopped my hopes that he was the mastermind behind it all. But then, I had the hopes that Randy's niece and nephew were the killers, maybe along with Randy's sister. It works so well. Honestly, it works so so well. But apparently, we can't besmirch everyone's favorite character, so it had to be two new characters. In terms of their reasoning, I'm a little meh on the whole thing. See, Timothy Olyphant's killer in Scream 2 had the same motivation as Richie and Amber. We've been here before. I also really like when one of the killers has a personal tie to the events of the story. We didn't really get that. But what we did get is a rad commentary on fandom that is way more prevalent now than it was in the original trilogy days. See, the notion that people would kill because of a fandom seemed absolutely absurd in the Dimension Films era. But since then, we've seen a guy get stabbed at Comic Con with a sword or a wand and I now know that we've crossed that barrier.
Maybe it is a little depressing to think that a fun movie like Scream should be talking about this. But I also appreciate that Scream is the franchise that is most open to breaking that fourth wall and preach to an audience. Yeah, the Scream movies probably aren't making that much change to the culture, despite actually having something to say. And like I said, there's only so much we can do with the Prescott family to continue this story. Actually, there's an element to this movie that says we really don't need Sydney Prescott anymore. She doesn't actually contribute that much to the main storyline. The killers consider her to be a bonus opportunity. But would it be a Scream movie without Sydney? I don't know.
Can I give points for riskiness? Dewey has always somehow escaped his fate in these movies. He's gotten torn apart in so many of them, only to be rushed to the hospital and saved. Heck, his character limps everywhere because of ripped up nerves. But this film was not only willing to kill off Dewey, but they gave him unfinished business. That's a flex. The second that I found out he was estranged from Gale, I thought he was going to be safe. After all, he needed to die with the happy ending. But no, it's this amazing misdirect that made him way more interesting of character. I like the idea that the audience was robbed of that cathartic moment between Dewey and Gale, especially considering that it had the odd parallel connection between Courtney Cox and David Arquette. It's a move and I like it.
So remember, Scream does nothing new with the franchise. It just is a good time whodunnit and it works pretty well. I hear that they're gearing up to do it again and I'll end up watching it. Heck, I'm even considering revisiting Scream 4 again.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.