Is ‘Scream’ (2022) better than ‘Scream’ (1996)?

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Jackson Piercy
CONTRIBUTOR

Someone in Ghostface getup who is about to participate in some shenanigans. Photo from imdb.com.

I will admit, this film got me. In my escapades at the movie theatre, I’ve seen the trailer for this picture a time or two. Every time I saw it, however, the more suspicious I became. “Scream” as a franchise is one that has the unique distinction of being the only big slasher franchise that knew that it was a slasher franchise. From the outset, I saw the cheesy dialogue, I saw the January release date, and I got a bit on edge at the prospect of having an actually bad “Scream” movie. Despite that mindset, it joys me to the end of the earth to say that this might be the best “Scream” since Wes Craven’s original.

There seems to be a pattern occurring in Woodsboro, Calif. Every ten years or so, some nut (or nuts) at the High School decides that it would be good fun to grab a hunting knife and a dime-store Halloween mask and carve up some classmates. This film opens in a familiar state, and leaves our first victim, Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) hospitalized. In the wake of this attack, estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barerra) and her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) come back to town to make sure she’s still in good shape. Sam had been something of a troublemaker in her youth, and that isn’t lost on Tara’s friend Amber (Mikey Madison) and the town Sherriff Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton). With the rest of Tara’s circle of friends Wes (Dylan Minnette), twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), and Liv (Sonia Ammar), in addition to some familiar faces in Dewey (David Arquette), Sidney (Neve Campbell), and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), only one thing is certain: it’s always someone you know.

It could be made a point of contention, the fact that the viewing experience can be vastly improved by prior knowledge of the previous films. In this case, I would say that even though you don’t need to have seen the prior films to get to speed on this one, this film in a way improves the experience of the original “Scream” in a sort of vice versa type of way. I do think it’s  funny that the two films that are most similar in plot composition and character roles have the exact same title. It evokes this recent trend of combination sequel/reboots that both jump start narratives that should’ve been left alone and introduce new characters and concepts. The commentary on the new wave of socially conscious horror actually almost reroutes the path of this film, until one of the characters says that this film is an outright “meta-horror slasher whodunnit.” When the niece of Randy Meeks speaks on the conventions of the horror genre, even the film listens. You’re not really going to get this kind of quality meta-narrative in a “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie.

If you like the “Scream” franchise, I can almost guarantee that you will be blown away. Even if you aren’t, the way the pieces fall into place is just as satisfying now as it was in 1996. I honestly think that watching this and the original really does make for this cyclic kind of relationship that, even though they are basically the same movie, they really are not.

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