The “Scream” franchise started in 1996 as a clever bit of meta-horror: a slasher film directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson that skillfully attacked the genre’s tropes in a way that was truly scary, genuinely humorous, and, most importantly, enjoyable. The concept of a masked serial murderer tormenting victims, who are also slasher-movie fans, using the insights of a movie-going slasher-flick fan before killing them was ingenious.
But by the time “Scream 4” arrived — the final installment in 2011 by the original partners before Craven’s death — no one involved seem to care that the audience was only laughing at their laziness.
The new legacy sequel, in a long line of recent failures (see also Star Wars, the Terminator, Matrix), this is a film that’s strictly a fan service feast. In the 2002 film, the Ghostface murderer returns in a self-deprecating, slasher sequel that’s woefully short on horrors. Instead of recoiling from the horror, most of the audience is likely to merely laugh out loud at Scream’s 25th anniversary relaunch. The original cast reprises their roles as supporting characters for a fresh set of smarmy teen victims, and the film makes light of horror genre stereotypes while also mocking the “Stab” franchise, which was based on the Woodsboro murders.
While this witty technique works up to a point, it soon becomes ridiculous, although anyone that goes for gory and savage knife strikes, then Scream (2022) will satiate your bloodlust.
Scream enjoys making fun of itself and other horror movies. Ghostface is a huge admirer of the “Stab” franchise and uses it to tease his victims. The Generation Z supporting cast is always talking about horror classics, recent genre hits, and what went wrong with the failed “Stab” sequels, but if these teenagers are self-proclaimed horror specialists, why do they act like lambs to their own slaughter?
The script by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick is witty initially, but then they milk it with inane chatter. In fact, the meta references get so bad, that eventually you want this clique of irritating commentators to just shut up and die. Legendary director Wes Craven knew how to make laughs work and the frightening shocks work, but these replacement directors don’t.
Skip this. There are no screams here. And if you REALLY want a spoiler… the bad guys are “toxic fans.” **yawn**