Scream Review: The New Slasher Honors Wes Craven’s Legacy And Delivers For Fans New And Old

The Scream franchise is back with a vengeance.

Ghostface in Scream
(Image: © Paramount Pictures)

Horror movies have an interesting place in film history, as they haven't always been given the respect they deserve. But every so often a new scary film will arrive and revitalize the genre as a whole. Wes Craven’s 1996 movie Scream did just that, and influenced countless slashers that would follow. And lucky for the generations of fans out there, a new Scream is about to arrive in theaters. 

The 2022 Scream marks the first installment to arrive in theaters since the death of the late, great Wes Craven. The new movie is helmed by Ready or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who are massive fans of the original four in the series. That love for Craven’s work helped convince OG stars like Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette to return to their signature roles, and they do so alongside some stellar newcomers.

Scream brings audiences back to the fictional town of Woodsboro, CA, which is basically murder capitol of the world at this point. When a teenager named Tara (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by someone in a Ghostface mask, her sister, Sam (Melissa Barrera), and Sam’s boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), return to town. And as the bodies start piling up, eventually the legacy characters like Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) once again get into the action and take on the masked killer themselves.

Scream has to do some set up in Act 1, but it really pays off.

Like all Scream movies, the new sequel is extremely self-referential. It dubs itself a “requel” which is a mixture of a sequel and a reboot. The story largely follows the new characters in the ensemble, with Sam serving as the primary protagonist. In order to make the various character relationships make sense onscreen, quite a bit of the first act is dedicated to introducing the new cast, and revealing how they’re connected to the events of Wes Craven’s the 1996 original. 

This setup is necessary for the new cast to feel like real people, and there are some outstanding performances from supporting cast members like Yellowjackets star Jasmin Savoy Brown. The exposition sometimes gets in the way of the movie’s comedic beats early on, although that’s far from an issue throughout the rest of the movie’s 114-minute runtime.

This isn't to say that the beginning of the movie is lacking in Ghostface. On the contrary, his attacks on the Woodsboro community happen consistently throughout the movie, and each new appearance by the killer raises the stakes and shows that nobody is safe. That being said, the movie does make fans wait to catch up with the trio of original stars.

Scream’s kills are brutal, and there are no moments to rest.

Once Scream starts rolling it doesn’t really slow down. This version of Ghostface is super brutal, resulting in the cast being ripped apart in various gnarly ways. The directors clearly took the kills very seriously, and there are definitely some deaths that will go down in the history books. 

The tension of Scream is buoyed throughout its runtime because Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are constantly messing with your expectations. For one, no character is safe, regardless if they’re a legacy hero or a newcomer. On the other hand, some survivors who seem like goners end up being alive. The pair of filmmakers anticipate the audience's reactions, making the surprises as terrifying as Ghostface himself. And through all the scares and stab wounds, there’s also comedic beats consistently used – succeeding in nailing the iconic tone of the Scream franchise.

And while the stakes get higher as Scream goes along, the comedic beats remain consistent throughout the bloody chaos that is the third act. Ready or Not proved that the filmmakers were able to pivot between genres, and that practice seems to have aided their work in Woodsboro. 

Scream is a truly successful sequel, and is a love letter to Wes Craven and the fans.

As the new Scream movie was being filmed, Neve Campbell revealed that she returned to the franchise because the new directors had such a love and respect for Wes Craven’s work on the first four movies, and that’s seen all over the new sequel. The movie is a love letter to both Craven and the events of the previous sequels. There are countless homages to the original, including in the movie’s music which includes tracks from the original soundtrack, and both Dewey and Sidney’s themes.

But the easter eggs extend far past the music, and it might require multiple viewings to catch them all. While some are subtle, like seeing the ashes of Rose McGowan's Tatum in Dewey’s home, other surprises will hit you over the head and truly delight any self-respecting fans out there. Scream is deeply connected to its predecessors, despite having new directors behind the camera.

While Scream fans have a habit of making predictions, there are certain plot points that I never saw coming. It’s in this way that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett effectively put their stamp on the beloved franchise. What’s more, the ending seems to leave the possibility of more stories and the duo have hinted they’ve got plans for the future. Overall, Scream is masterful horror full of intense, raw terror, laugh-out-loud comedy, and mind-blowing twists. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.