The Pitch: It’s been 26 years since Wes Craven pumped a shot of adrenaline into the well-worn slasher genre with 1996’s Scream, which poked fun at the tired conventions and repetitive tropes of stabby horror staples while still holding up as thrilling, bloody examples of the form.
There’ve been four sequels since, each innovating on the formula in one way or another — Scream 2 ruminating on the nature of sequels, Scream 3 on concluding trilogies, Scream 4 on the years-later followup — through Craven’s keen eye for balancing the entropy of franchises with keen horror audiences’ awareness of the same. Now the series moves forward with the succinctly-titled Scream, the first without Wes (this new film is dedicated to his passing), and one that goes full-tilt into horror movie metacommentary, perhaps to its detriment.
It starts, as it always does, with a phone call: jaded teen Tara (Jenna Ortega, as strong here as she was in the as-yet-unreleased SXSW darling The Fallout), alone in her house, talking to a mysterious stranger who suddenly starts taunting her about horror movies. “I’m more into elevated horror,” she bites back, citing A24 fodder like The Babadook that’s more focused on theme than grisly jump-scares.
Predictably, she’s attacked (the ubiquity of cell phones and home security systems in 2022 turn out to be mere speedbumps for Ghostface’s rampage), but unpredictably, she survives; her estranged older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera, In the Heights) comes back to Woodsboro to look after her, dorky boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) in tow.
But this family reunion kicks off yet another Ghostface rampage, which Sam, Richie, Tara, and Tara’s close-knit friend group (including Dylan Minnette, Once Upon a Time…. in Hollywood‘s Mikey Madison, and the twin nieces of Randy Meeks, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding) get wrapped up in. To help flush out the killer once and for all, they’ll have to consult some experts: Ghostface veterans Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox).