Matt!’s review published on Letterboxd:
Jason failed. The Predator failed. Leprechaun failed—twice. But Ghostface finally did it: he conquered the asphalt jungle.
Scream (2022) did a pretty great job of introducing a new generation of likable characters, which is rare for me to say because my inner grumpy millennial usually can’t stand those whiny Gen Z-er casts (Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022), though a solid satire, was basically my Vietnam). Here, the surviving members find themselves living together in the Big Apple, a place that opens up many doors for new, creative scenarios (the first scene in particular is a sweet change of pace), and are once again terrorized by our masked killer.
However, this ain’t your daddy’s Ghostface; this time, he’s angry. With a massive frame and a grisly, time-worn mask, this Ghostface is a brute force, powering his way through crowds and cutting people up in broad daylight. No longer is he slipping in puddles and falling down stairs, nah, he’s shooting dudes in the face with a fuckin shotgun. Don’t worry though, he’s still just as logic/physics/death-defying as ever!
Just like in their previous installment, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett deliver gorier kills than Craven’s patented generally ambiguous knife stabs, although I will admit, for a movie that name-drops Argento and giallos, I think in this day and age they could afford to up the ante much higher. I mean, guys were getting their bodies cleanly bifurcated by plate glass windows like 50 years ago - whatever happened to that shit?
The killer(s?)’s motivation is possibly the best since the original, although it probably could’ve been fleshed out a bit more after the reveal. Either way, it’s leagues better than the tongue-in-cheek “toxic fandom” inspiration from the previous movie (calling those killers “snowflake film nerds with Letterboxd accounts” felt like a personal attack though, kinda rude). Unfortunately, I have no idea where they could even go next, especially since they sort of blew their wad by spelling out an overview of the entire franchise up till now and mentioning every single fan theory by name. If the last movie’s meta humor was directed at the sequels of other franchises, this one’s humor is directed squarely at its own past.
I’ll be honest, I’m starting to love Sam’s backstory. Sidney (miss u, bae) will always be my Scream queen, but Sam’s borderline psycho arc is just working for me. After so many movies of “nice girl who can be lethal”, it’s refreshing to get a “lethal girl who can be nice”. Plus, how often do you have a heroine stabbing someone in the mouth, purposefully twisting the knife, and smiling? So lit.
Speaking of refreshing, how awesome is it to see Hayden P back onscreen? Poor lady has had such a rough go of it in real life, it’s heartwarming to see her back doing what she loves while playing a character that fans all love. Did they unwrite her Scream 4 (2011) death with a throwaway line? Yeah, but like, come on, it’s Scream. They regularly (including here) have characters get stabbed half a billion times and bleed out for an hour, only to have them magically appear alive on a stretcher after the chaos has ended. Medical fallacies just come with the territory.
Relating to that, my biggest gripe without question is how safe the writers chose to be with the deaths. I won’t spoil everything, but let’s just say that, in a post-Game of Thrones world, ya can’t be afraid to kill off some mainstays, ya know? Taking Dewey out last time was a respectable leap, but they backtrack a bit too much here. One specific moment at the end even made me audibly groan and say “oh, come on”.
Overall, the new setting and more violent Ghostface worked wonders, but it needed to be ballsier with both its character deaths and their subsequent death scenes to push it up into that next tier of slashers. Still, one of the best films in my all time favorite horror franchise.
P.S. no matter how many Instagram filters they layer on, Ghostface will never be as big of a threat to Courtney Cox’s well-being as Botox is.