The 2022 edition of “Scream” is a film for those who grew up watching the 1996 version of “ScREAM” and its three sequels. The original screenplay by Kevin Williamson took what fans talked about John Carpenter and Wes Craven in school cafeterias and coffee shops about into something daring and exciting, whereas the new script by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick takes place in a world where those talks take place on a larger scale in Discord chats, Reddit threads, and fan conventions. It’s a horror film for a world in which everyone has an opinion on horror flicks. It cleverly balances references to the initial films while avoiding self-conscious smugness, delivering a product that feels similar to the first four movies but distinctive enough to have its own voice. Some of Craven’s craftsmanship and acting ability are lacking here, but by the time the film reaches its bonkers climax, I don’t believe any true horror fans in the audience will mind.
Of course, the star of “Scream” is a phone call—and it’s still a landline. Again, a young woman home alone is compelled to play movie trivia with a psychopath, but the way in which this “Scream” will continue the original isn’t hard to see early on when Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) states that her favorite horror film isn’t a slasher classic but an “elevated horror” picture like The Babadook. The way we define the horror genre has evolved significantly in the last 25 years, as has the link between filmmakers, spectators, and even “true story” subject matter that creators mine for escapist entertainment. The characters in the new “Scream” don’t just share the same genre movie knowledge of Randy Meeks from the original film, they’d destroy him in a trivia contest.