Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Mickey Madison, Jasmin Savoy Brown
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick and (based on the characters created) Kevin Williamson
Running Time 114 mins
Release date: 14th January 2022
About halfway through this sequel, reboot, a reimagination of the Wes Craven horror from 1996, Scream, something happens that totally lost my respect for the rest of the film. Up to that point, I was enjoying this self-mocking slice of slasher horror, which tries to evoke the original while reinventing the genre. All it takes is one moment to spoil it, and sadly, this one moment led me down a path of finding the whole thing slightly irritating and caring less about what happens in the rest of the film. You may think it was an overreaction, yet this one moment, which led to a significant character’s death, led to the rest of the film’s downward demise for me.
The small town of Woodsboro’, the place where years before a killer named Ghostface, run amok and led to a series of films called “Stab”, becomes the focal point of another series of similar murders. Someone has decided to copy Ghostface and Sam Carpenter, along with her sister, Tara, are the focus on the new crimes, leading some past residents to return to help stop these recent killings.
I was bought up on slasher horror films, like Halloween and Friday the 13th, so when the late, great Wes Craven delivered the original Scream, it was like a candy shop of delights for me. Knowing winks about the genre, with occasional moments of pure dark humour and, of course, the famous list of things you should never do during a slasher horror film was pure genius. Now, Ready or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have decided to follow in Mr Craven’s footsteps and bring the series back to life for a new generation as well as those who remember the original fondly.
The movie starts promisingly, with an almost carbon copy of the opening to Craven’s film, where Drew Barrymore is alone in the house being terrorised by Ghostface, the white-masked killer. With a few neat uses of modern technology, there was enough new tension to make that scene work just as effectively as before. The film then introduces the new youngsters who will play an essential part in the proceedings, and it was like stepping back in time to a world of teenagers with targets on their backs. You know they are not all going to survive, and you know that quite possibly one or maybe two of them could be the killer/killers.
Yet as the film plays on, the sense of de javu becomes hugely apparent, and, more importantly, it is just not scary. The gore and gruesomeness have been upped for this film because, as we all know, horror films nowadays need to be as gory as possible. Yet the scares aren’t there. In fact, even the jumps scares are predictable, and you can see them coming a mile off.
Then we get some familiar faces from the original returning. The sense of “been there done that” really becomes apparent, especially when the action starts to move, the final act, to the original house of the original’s ending. All the while, you are hoping to have at least one moment when you become horrified. The one thing that most people tend to forget was that Wes Craven was a master of horror and knew how to make you scared. The 1996 film was scary. I remember seeing it in a packed cinema in the days when I went on a Saturday night and hearing the audience scream. This time, nothing.
Then there was the problematic sequence in the middle. Knowing that the film still had a way to go, one of the characters does something, or more likely, doesn’t do something that any average person, under those circumstances, would do. So it was at that point that it lost me. I really didn’t feel anything for the characters, didn’t care what happened and most importantly, didn’t care who the killer was. In fact, the final act is drawn out so much; it was like watching a gory episode of Scooby-Doo.
The performances were fine, but when you cannot wait to see the original cast members return, you know that the new team somehow aren’t up to the same level. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette are still exciting to watch after all these years, and when they arrive on the scene, the film does lift.
Scream isn’t terrible. In fact, if you are not familiar with the original then you might enjoy it. Yet to me it felt like a rehash of old ideas and nothing new has been bought to the table. The reboot of Halloween worked because it tried to be different. This was just the same old same old. If it wasn’t for that middle section, this might have got a higher grading. For me, it disappointed.
3 out of 5