BEWARE THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Normally when I write these reviews, I start off with a nice intro with some background, but this time, I’m just going to jump into it because I am beyond disappointed.
Scream 5 was high on my watchlist this year. I have literally one video on my YouTube channel, and it’s a trailer reaction to Scream 5. The original Scream was the movie that introduced me to the horror genre. I was beyond excited for it; it looked really good, the original cast was coming back for one final time, we had what looked like new interesting characters, it felt like the vibe of the first two movies, you get the picture.
And honestly, the first half of the movie delivers all of that. The opening scene is reminiscent of that famous Drew Barrymore scene from the first one; it even takes place in the same house, and it’s just as good and just as terrifying. There are a lot of little nuggets in this movie that bring you back to the good ol’ days. Like many 90s movies, each new character is a “stereotype”: you have the jock, the goth girl, the beauty, the dorky guy who’s in love with the beauty but she doesn’t know it, and the know-it-all film nerd type. The town of Woodsboro, like most small towns, has changed, but not really. There are recognizable locations throughout the movie; we even get taken back to the original house at the end of the film for the final showdown.
Each new kid is related somehow to someone from the first four Scream movies, which, in a small town like Woodsboro, makes complete sense. Our main protagonist, Sam (Melissa Barrera), is the illegitimate daughter of Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), the original killer from the first Scream. Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) is the son of Sheriff Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton), who we last saw in Scream 4 as a deputy. Mindy and Mason Meeks (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding) are the twin children of Martha Meeks (Heather Matarazzo), who is the late sister of Randy Meeks, the poor horror movie aficionado who dies in the second Scream – ironically by not following his own horror movie rules.
The cool thing about the kids being related to everyone is that not only do we get to see our main heroes again (Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell), but we get to see these other actors that have been so important in the other movies as well. Skeet Ulrich, Marley Shelton, and Heather Matarazzo return to reprise their roles, which was a nice surprise. I really liked all the characters, except for one: Mindy Meeks. Throughout the movie, Mindy has a devil-may-care attitude, which is fine, except for the end where she’s sitting on the couch like her uncle Randy, watching the first Stab movie. In her world, she’s literally watching a movie based on real events, watching the actor who plays her real uncle about to be murdered by Ghostface, and she’s laughing at him. LAUGHING. It was uncomfortable to watch. I guess the writer was probably trying to convey how out of touch this younger generation is, but it doesn’t work.
This brings me to the major problem of this movie: how self-aware it is. Now, look, I know ALL of the Scream movies have been self-aware; that comes with the territory. But this movie was SO self-aware it was distracting. There’s a scene about halfway through the film where Sam, her boyfriend Ritchie (Jack Quaid), and the rest of the kids, along with Dewey, are sitting around a living room trying to figure out who the killer could be based on past history. Dear Mindy proceeds to go on a rant about the Stab franchise and how the film that came out last year was the worst movie because, since there were no more real-world events for it to base itself on, it tried to be something other than a slasher film, undermined the original franchise, and basically took a dump on what made Stab great in the first place. To say it was ill-received is an understatement. We also find out that the movie was directed by Rian Johnson (one of the girls in the group flat out says, “Wasn’t that directed by the Knives Out guy?” AND his name is in the credits in the “Special Thanks” section), and it was the eighth installment in the Stab franchise.
Yep. That’s dig number one, and it isn’t subtle. By the end, it’s so much worse.
Which brings me to…THE REVEAL. The best part about the Scream movies is they’re not just slasher films; they’re also brilliant whodunnits. The killer reveals are always a twist that leaves you going, “I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!” By Scream 4, the killers were simply doing it because they wanted to be famous. In this new movie, the killer mastermind is a nod to the original and is revealed to be Sam’s boyfriend Ritchie (great acting by Jack Quaid, by the way), and his reason behind it is:
SAVING THE FRANCHISE!
Yes. Ritchie claims he was radicalized by his fellow angry fans and the destruction of their beloved franchise, and that is why he had to do all these killings, you see – so that they can bring back what made the movies so special in the first place: the basics. His plan is to frame Sam as the killer; after all, she’s the daughter of Billy Loomis, so it would make perfect sense AND tie everything back to the OGs!
So, the underlying message of this movie is, “Toxic fandom is the real villain.” Got it.
When I tell you I felt like I was slapped right in the face, I mean it. It ruined the whole movie for me. I realize the Scream films have always been self-aware, and they’ve brought in outside stuff before, and they’re very satirical, but this was none of those things. This was blatant messaging. I just wanted to watch a Scream film, and here I am being told that, since I don’t agree with the direction in which Hollywood is taking these franchises, I’m akin to a serial killer. Thanks, guys.
Oh, and for a movie that claims to be so aware of needing to treat its original cast right, it does a terrible job of it. Cox is barely in the film, Campbell is only in the last maybe 30 minutes, and Arquette dies so stupidly I actually laughed out loud. So, good job, Scream 5, for failing to do what you preached about in your own movie.