Movie Review: Scream (2022)

My friends, it is finally here. The reason for my content output the last two weeks. It’s finally here and I can talk about it. And after this, you’ll be free of me rambling about this franchise… until the next inevitable one in 5-10 years. But for now, this is the last one you’ll hear me talk about. So let’s see if it’s another worthy entry in this franchise.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream”, which is also “Scream 5”.

25 years after the original Woodsboro murders, everything is seemingly nice and quiet in the small California town. But this peace is brought to a halt when a new masked murderer starts stalking a group of teens, seemingly with the intention of drawing out the town’s darkest secrets. The story of “5cream” is really strong, and talking about it is difficult. Of course we see a lot of the familiar meta/characters aware of horror tropes stuff come back, but it doesn’t just feel like a retread of what’s come before. While it’s here to poke that sort of fun at horror tropes, it also takes its time to satirize lovingly legacy movies and so-called “elevated horror”, while als taking some absolutely brutal stabs at toxic fandoms. And all of that helps make for a strong, pertinent, funny, tragic, and quite well written satire narrative, while still of course also indulging in a bit of violent carnage. It’s a damn good story that I liked from start to end, but can tell will piss some people off.

The characters in this are all pretty good. Do I think all of them carry the same memorability as some of the cast from the older movies, not quite. But out of the core cast, there’s none that felt like they didn’t belong or like they were outright poorly written. And as for the actors, there’s not a weak link. Of course you have the old trio of Arquette, Campbell, and Cox coming back, all slipping beautifully back into these roles, once again delivering top notch performances. And within the new cast you have people like Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mikey Madison, and more, all great in their respective roles.

This is the first one in the series not to be composed by Marco Beltrami, with Brian Tyler instead taking on that task. And lucky for us, Tyler killed it. His score hearkens back to Beltrami’s scores with a lot of similar musical tricks and stylings, without ever feel like he’s just rehashing what came before. From brash, intense brass to more subtle, emotional tracks, it’s all here, and it all works wonderfully. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and those work well in the movie too.

Unlike previous ones, “Scream 5: The Fifth Screaming” wasn’t written by Kevin Williamson or directed by Wes Craven (R.I.P). Instead writing duties fell on James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, with direction being handled by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who also gave us the wonderful “Ready or Not”). Aaaaand, they knocked it out of the park. The direction here is really suspenseful and intense, never really letting the viewer feel at ease, even during seemingly safe scenes. This really helps keep the whodunnit element relevant and exciting, while also making sure that when Ghostface appears, it actually feels scary. Speaking of the ol’ mouthgaper, Jesus Christ, the kills in this are savage. Not that the other killers in the series weren’t violent psychos, but there’s something about the violence in this that just feels extra mean-spirited and brutal, which does fit with the story and tone of this movie, and helps make el spookerino feel like more of a threat than ever. So yeah… this movie’s well crafted.

At the time of writing, this movie been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

I think it’s pretty clear that I think “Scream: Another Scream” is another fit for the franchise. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ooga booga*. My final score for “Scream” is a 9.76/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream the Fifth” is now completed.

Let’s end this on a classic question, because it’s fun and I genuinely wanna know… What’s your favorite scary movie?

Movie Review: Scream 4 (2011)

My friends, this is it. The final movie in this franchise… until I see the new one on Saturday. But for now, this is the final “Scream” movie. I’m finally caught up (woo!). So without further ado, let’s talk about it and see if it’s a good one.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream 4”!

15 years have passed since the Woodsboro murders, and we see Sidney (Neve Campbell) return to her old hometown as the first stop on her book tour. However, what should be a simple visit soon turns into a complex nightmare when people start getting murdered by another masked killer. Right from the get-go, “Scre4m” shows that it’s not fucking around, giving us arguably the most clever and expectation-subverting opening in the series. And from that point on, it doesn’t let up with its meta nature. The entire series has had a very meta approach to telling its stories, but this one leans into it the most, while also being a surprisingly prescient takedown of fame and social media, all while subverting and indulging in slasher tropes to great effect (as it has in the past), creating possibly the most intense, fun, and clever narrative in the series. Yeah, I really liked the story here.

The characters in this are all really solid, either through being well written and nuanced, or through being fun and colorful. But what does also help is that they all have some level of self-awareness, perfectly befitting the story told, which does also make it really tricky to identify who can be trusted and who can’t, keeping me on my toes from start to end. And the entire cast is terrific, featuring returning people like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox, along with newcomers like Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Roger Jackson, Alison Brie, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Erik Knudsen, Adam Brody, and more.

For the fourth time in a row, Marco Beltrami came in to do the score, and once again he did a damn good job. You get some familiar note progressions, some more typical horror stings, and some subtle, creeping tracks. It’s a solid score that works really well for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes. It is a bit of a shame to not have “Red Right Hand” back in this one, but it doesn’t completely ruin it for me.

“Scream 4” saw Kevin Williamson come back as screenwriter, with Wes Craven once again directing (THE DREAM TEAM IS BACK, BAYBEEEE!). And the craft behind it is once again top tier. Intense, creepy direction once again manages to build a fair bit of suspense, it’s Craven at the height of his powers. Also, there’s a lot of really intense violence and gore in this. And while I don’t necessarily think more gore = scarier, I do think it adds a certain unrelenting intensity to this movie that makes it a bit more disturbing and scary. It’s just really well made.

This movie’s gotten a bit of a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

I might get severely shamed by people for this, but “Scream 4” might be my favorite of the bunch. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score.  *AAAAAAAAAH*. My final score for “Scream 4” is a 9.80/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream 4” is now completed.

Alright… let’s hope the Radio Silence dudes can do this franchise justice.

Movie Review: Scream (1996)

Hi there, I hope your holidays have been good. Time to kick off the new year! And I thought that with the upcoming fifth “Scream” coming out next week, it could be fun to go through the first four movies leading up to it. So with that out of the way, let’s talk about this movie.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream”.

The small town of Woodsboro, California is in for a real nightmare when a mysterious, masked man starts stalking and killing young people. While that might at first seem like the setup for any ol’ slasher, “Scream” manages to stand above the crowd by being a satirical, yet loving send-up to them, playing around with the rules of the formula, subverting them as often as it indulges in them. And the subversive and knowing writing style keeps it feeling fresh and unpredictable, leading to storytelling that is equal parts suspenseful, clever, and quite fun, making for one hell of a solid horror story.

The characters in this are all very fun and colorful, but also a lot more layered than most of your typical slasher characters. Take for example Sidney Prescott, our leading lady. A kind young woman with a traumatic past, she’s arguably one of the most well developed characters in this, and I find her deeply engaging to follow, with Neve Campbell delivering a terrific performance. And the rest of the characters are solid too, played by people like Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, W. Earl Brown, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, and more, all delivering really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco Beltrami, and I think he did a damn solid job with it. There’s a nice mix of styles here, blending loud, intimidating orchestrations with eerie choir vocals and even some hip hop-influenced percussion to create an interesting and unique sound that really elevates the storytelling. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they work really well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has some damn good music in it.

“Scream” was written by Kevin Williamson, with directing duties being handled by Wes Craven, who absolutely killed it behind the camera. The man is an expert at when it comes to building suspense, keeping me on the edge of my seat at all points, even during scenes that technically could be considered “safe”. This also translates to the more action-packed bits, which manage to be quite tense, exciting, and even kinda disturbing. And Craven does all of this while balancing the act of subverting and indulging in slasher tropes. It’s just a really well crafted movie.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Scream” is a terrific film that absolutely deserves its status as a classic. It ha a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Scream” is a 9.71/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream” is now completed.

What’s your favorite scary movie? Mine’s “Alien”.

Guest Post: Women Led Horror

Hey there, hope you’re doing well. So once again, I will be taking a bit of a backseat on a post. Because for the second time ever, we have a special guest giving us a little treat. And wouldn’t you know, it’s none other than my good friend Mary, who recently wrote another great piece for us. So without further ado, let’s see what Mary has to say about female-driven horror movies. Take it away, Mary!

When it comes to horror movies, it’s fair to say that female characters often get the shite end of the stick. Paraded around in skimpy outfits; tripping over tree branches whilst being pursued by the movie monster; sexual activity rewarded with being the first to die … These movie tropes are deeply ingrained and highly condescending. And whilst they still haven’t completely disappeared, there are plenty of alternatives. Narratives where women are strong, logical protagonists or well fleshed out villains are becoming easier to find. They are there to do so much more than scream and flee.

So, who laid the groundwork and who is benefitting? Traces of which 60s and 70s classics can be found in which contemporary movies? Here are some of all the most iconic performances from women in horror movies.

Rosemary’s Boby (1968)

Carrie (1976)

The image of Sissy Spacek, drenched in blood has to be one of the most iconic of horror cinema. She gives a phenomenal performance here as the titular character – a social outcast and a victim of her mother’s religious fervour. It’s a performance that requires a lot of credibility – telekinesis has been used rather ropily before and since – but Spacek is commanding yet vulnerable.

Suspiria (1977)

Garishly nightmarish, the original Dario Argento movie is a giallo classic. Jessica Harper gives an impressive performance as the ballet dancer, Suzy Bannion, who quickly realises that all is not quite right with her new dance school. Despite disorientating colourscapes and the Goblin soundtrack, her performance does not get lost in amongst it all. She is determined to be believed …

Alien (1979)

It’s no secret that the character of Ripley was written as a man, which is perhaps why Sigourney Weaver’s take on the role is so important. She’s not softened or “feminised” in any way. Instead, she’s quietly commanding, physically capable and intellectually three steps ahead of her colleagues. She is perhaps the most memorable “last woman standing”.

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Freddie Kruger – a horror icon himself – is busy invading the dreams of small town teenagers and picking them off, one by one, in this Halloween classic. However, he and his knives are no match for Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp.  Director Wes Craven has acknowledged that he wanted a cliché-free, progressive female lead.

Misery (1990)

From hero to villain, now, as Kathy Bates takes on James Caan in this Stephen King adaptation. Despite presenting as a mousy, introverted middle aged woman, Annie Wilkes is one of the most terrifying female villains. Bates turns on the charm – and the scares – at the drop of a hat and it is this duality that makes her so scary.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Yes, Anthony Hopkins is the consummate movie maniac here, but it is Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling who deserves all the plaudits here. A rookie FBI investigator, she holds her nerve when faced with Hannibal the Cannibal. It’s all about the power dynamic here and Foster gives a convincingly reassured performance.

Scream (1996)

Whilst everyone was talking about – and buying – those ghoulish white masks, it is Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott who stands out in Scream. She is another well-written, multi-dimensional female lead with vulnerabilities and strengths. She even mocks the masked killer with comments as to how scary movies are always about screaming women running the wrong way from their pursuers.

Audition (1999)

You could be forgiven – on first watch – for thinking that the villain of the piece was the sleazy Shigeharu Aoyama, the man who is literally auditioning girls to be his new wife. That is, until you see that garbage bag move … Eihi Shiina gives a truly fascinating performance as the seemingly sweet but ultimately twisted as fuck Asami Yamazaki.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

This irresistibly shot Iranian movie centres around a female vampire, played by Sheila Vand, who is picking off deviant male victims one by one. So not only is this movie beautiful to look at, it also has a strong feminist message and female lead. Vand gives a thoroughly engaging performance, with so much being conveyed through a look or her physicality.

Midsommar (2019)

Florence Pugh’s Dani is both victim and victor in Ari Aster’s movie. She starts the film suffering emotional trauma and being gaslit by her douchebag boyfriend. Pugh really draws you in to her character – it’s an incredibly physical and demanding performance – so that by the time that enigmatic little smile crosses her face, you’ll be fully onside. But should you be?

Written by Mary Palmer