Director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Screenplay James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick
Starring Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell

The saddest thing for me when it comes to Scream is that, despite all of its inside the inside of the rules of horror, I figured out who the killer (or one of them?) is just by watching the first trailer. If one removes that, bad CGI, the self refences and and the headlong into cliche, from the equation this is at least tied with the second best film in the franchise.

Mainly this is due to the fact that that there are several ancilliary characters who are related to other persons of note from previous films. The fact that they make several revelations in the first act tries to create a protective cover for the plot. There is also a distinct improvement in the characters of Dewey (Arquette) and the severely surgically altered Gale (Cox, looking like Nancy Pelosi). This helps to make up for their maligned performances in films after the first.

The new characters for Scream are pretty good. Barrera plays the older sister of one of the victims (Ortega). She has a secret in her past that is a driving force behind the story, and also gives puts a cloud of suspiscion around her. She and her boyfriend (Quake) go to meet a wiser, limpier Dewey, who is now divorced from Gale. Once he is involved, it’s only a matter of time before the whole gang is back together. The only thing more predictable would be if they all three survived again.

The main hobby in any of the Scream sequels is figuring out who is strong enough to overpower their victims within the main list of the cast. Sometimes it’s absolutely ludicrous, like when the two killers from part 4 didn’t top 200lbs together throw someone through a window. Individually or as a team it would have been unlikely. There are moments like this in this sequel, but what the hell. Even the worst coincidence is not as stupid as the overworn empty hospital routine.

The best parts about this, as with the other films is still Syndey Prescott (Campbell). She has aged well and is completely centered 25 years later. She is married with two kids, and well out of the town of Woodsboro. She will be back, but she escapes the brutal over-dramatization that Jamie Lee Curtis employs in this films “requel” inspiration Halloween.

The revelation is usually the worst part of the series after the first episode and the trend continues here. Its so out of ideas it borrows the actual motive from previous films, but again, it’s fun to see the women of the series get pissed before they get revenge. And the revenge this time is glorious.

The sins of this film are outweighed by a brisk pace and some pretty gruesome kills. This viewer flinched a few times, and that’s one of the best things about the series. It is not as funny, but it’s not as dumb either. It’s likely kicking off another round of films, if it can surpass the performance of the last film which nearly killed the franchise. Coming out of a pandemic, that’s a lot to ask.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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