Scream ★★★

There was no way Scream was coming back after another decade away, especially not with a good movie. The already-belated Scream 4 picked up our surviving characters and breathed new life into their world with an ultra-meta presentation that opened with a series of nested homages to the airtight original and managed to wring out a satisfying story with genuine stakes and what was then a fine capper to this series. Truly a pleasant surprise after the wet fart of Scream 3 seemingly killed off the franchise ten years prior - but now we're another full decade on. What could possibly be said or done in another Scream movie after they'd gone meta supernova in a series that practically reinvented cinematic self-awareness to begin with?

Somehow, here we are with the most vicious entry since the hypnotic slasher bliss of Scream 2, unafraid to kill characters who seemed to be invincible after surviving four murder sprees and happily splashing blood across the fresh faced cast members as they awaken to the realization that they've found themselves in another round of Ghostface murders back in ol' Woodsboro, where it all began. There's a sense of fun here belied by its self-consciously slick cinematography and almost overbearing reverence for the series mythology and its late great creator, Wes Craven. Solid kills all around, though nothing quite up to the level of those mesmerizing setpieces from the first two movies. But the movie has more on its mind than just legacy - it's obsessed with surveying the landscape of horror over the past decade, noting the rise of "elevated horror" (I hate that term and the reactionary discourse that surrounds it) and claiming superiority for offering supposedly simpler, more direct pleasures. Yet in doing so, Scream 5 leans right into those elevated horror vibes in some crucial respects, going deeper on a emotional level with our core trio, connecting the series' meta explorations with the slasher genre as a whole, visibly reacting against and in harmony with the kind of modern horror movies that have the audacity to contain themes (gasp!) Sure it feels slightly hypocritical, but mostly it reveals a shift in tone from the series as we've known it - the irony remains, but it's paired with a bit more sincerity and even (double gasp!) old fashioned sentimentality.

Without spoiling anything, I'll say that it kind of earns that sentimental streak. I certainly caught myself having feelings at points. But I also had questions! Why wasn't this called 5cream? What the heck is a requel? Why are Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox seemingly becoming twins at this point? When will get get another sequel, and will it be called Scream 2 (2)? I honestly had a great time revisiting the old trilogy and finally catching the two belated sequels this year in the lead-up to Scaretober. Might have to toss the whole lot into regular rotation when it comes to annual spookytime viewing - I'm especially excited to revisit these two later movies and see if enjoyment grows with familiarity.

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