Welcome back to Woodsboro: Spoiler-free review of Scream

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream." Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group.
Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream." Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group. /

1996’s Scream was a sensation, and is often credited for making horror films (particularly slashers) popular again. It was so successful that it has spawned four sequels and a series, and, unless you have spent the last year under a rock (for which no one would blame you), you know that the most recent sequel was released last week on January 14.

I can clearly remember watching the original Scream (which was inspired by a true crime) in December of 1996. I have always been a horror nerd, and hadn’t seen a good slasher in years at that time. About ten minutes into the film, I felt excitement fluttering around in my tummy. This was a good horror flick! It was exciting, scary, clever and funny. The kills were bloody and inventive, and the characters were great.

Scream 2022 movie review

I also enjoyed all of the sequels, and watched the first season of the series, so I was pretty hyped about the new sequel, particularly because the “old gang” of Dewey, Sidney and Gale was returning. I ventured into a theater for only the fourth time in the past two years, eager to revisit Woodsboro.

Like most visits back to your hometown, it was a mixed bag. As with the two most recent Halloween sequels, Scream 2022 packs a lot of nostalgia in the storyline, which I appreciate. In addition to the holy trinity of Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox, a handful of other actors from Screams past pay us a visit (including one you may not expect to see), and there are tributes to the characters of Randy (who was killed in Scream 2) and Tatum (Sidney’s bestie in the first film, memorably killed by way of a garage door).

Oct. 25, SCREAM, 9-11:30PM ET/8:30-11PM PT: CBS announces the return of the CBS SUNDAY NIGHT MOVIES on Oct. 4, with six fan-favorite films from the Paramount Pictures library, including three “back to school”-themed comedies, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, OLD SCHOOL and CLUELESS; a thriller just in time for Halloween, SCREAM; an out-of-this-world action adventure, STAR TREK BEYOND; and a comedy to enjoy during Thanksgiving weekend, COMING TO AMERICA. The first five movies will air on consecutive Sundays through Nov. 1; COMING TO AMERICA will be broadcast Nov. 29. © 2020 Miramax Films. All rights reserved. /

We even revisit Stu’s house, where there was a killer party in the first Scream. And several of the new characters have connections to some of the old gang, so it’s obvious that the filmmakers really wanted to reach out to fans of the franchise.

Does it work? Yes and no. The film is at its best when Campbell, Arquette and Cox are onscreen, and I feel like they just didn’t get enough screen time. That may be unfair of me, because the newer characters are well-acted enough; it’s just that most of them didn’t really grab my interest.

Maybe it’s also unfair to keep comparing this one to the original Scream, but those characters were so GOOD. Even the annoying ones were endearing, and I didn’t want them to die. To be honest, it didn’t really bother me that a few of the new characters were killed or seriously injured by Ghostface.

Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell (“Sidney Prescott”), left, and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream.” Photo by Brownie Harris. /

There is just something warm and comforting about seeing our old friends again, now more mature and definitely wiser.

The storyline goes back to Woodsboro where Tara (Jenna Ortega, always a welcome addition to any film) is called on the phone, and then attacked by a person in a Ghostface mask. Her sister Sam comes back to town after running away a few years ago, and teams up with Tara’s friends Wes, Liv, Mindy, Amber and Chad to track down the killer, and some hidden secrets are stirred up.

Of course, this new killer on the loose makes the news, and Dewey, Gale and Sidney rally up the troops to help out; after all, they have played this game before. And of course, there are multiple attacks and murders before the big finale plays out. The kills are bloody and brutal, and Ghostface takes a few beatings along the way. It’s also fun to fall into the “is this going to be a jump scare” trap multiple times, as we expect Ghostface’s iconic mask to be behind every door.

While 1996’s Scream gave us the horror movie rules, this new version references modern terms such as “fan fiction” and “elevated horror”, with one of the characters favorite scary movie being The Babadook. I found that to be clever and amusing, and another callback to the original.

So, while I don’t think this is the strongest film in the Scream franchise (that honor belongs to the original), it was still pretty cool to revisit Woodsboro and its erstwhile residents. If you consider yourself a true fan of Scream and its sequels, I recommend watching this one as well.

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Are you a fan of the Scream franchise? What did you think of the newest sequel? Drop your own reviews in the comments section.