Things haven’t changed much in Woodsboro: Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is now an author of true-life survival books, the local sheriff (David Arquette) and his once-famous reporter wife (Courtney Cox) are enjoying a low-key life and movies based on the brutal murders that took place in the ’90s are still littering movie theaters. Enter a fresh new batch of killings and the return of Ghostface to shake things up.
It’s been eleven years since master horror director Wes Craven left us with the wholly unsatisfying Scream 3 and a good six months since the hilariously awful My Soul to Take—easily the worst film Craven has ever made. His new Scream is a mixed bag, better than the last installment but nowhere near as sharp or thrilling as the original.
Campbell, Arquette and Cox seem comfortable in their old roles and it’s a pleasure to see them back. I didn’t realize how much I missed Arquette’s loopy local law enforcer, though the scenes where his on-screen marriage to Cox is on the rocks are a bit uncomfortable, given the fact that the actors’ real-life union reportedly fizzled on set.
This is easily the most violent entry in the series, with a clever, gasp-inducing opening that sets the bar too high for the rest of the film to clear. That’s especially true at the climax (don’t worry, I won’t reveal anything), where Craven goes too far and, frankly, lets the movie get away from him.
To be honest, I’m sick of watching kids killing kids. Gore is a given in horror movies, but at a certain point the splatters of blood and impaled teenagers become both excessive and mundane. Tons of young actors are slaughtered before we know or care who they are. Of the large (and largely disposed) cast, a nicely subdued Anthony Anderson and Cox have the best lines, both of which are unprintable here.
Kevin Williamson’s screenplay pokes fun at horror movie remakes, a ripe target, but avoids sticking a knife where it counts: namely, needless sequels that feed off nostalgia and offer nothing new. Ghostface hasn’t been scary in a decade. And, unfortunately, the Scream franchise has been reduced to a low whimper.