Review: Ghostface returns to the big screen in ‘Scream’ (2022)


Screenshot courtesy of "Scream" Instagram

Alternative poster for “Scream” (2022) featuring Jenny Ortega, one of the new stars of the “Scream” franchise.

by Samantha Muscio , Contributor


After 25 years, Ghostface returns to Woodsboro yet again to terrorize new victims making sure to leave a blood trail behind wherever they go. 

Many Screamheads have been anticipating the new slasher film, “Scream,” informally known as “Scream 5,” but were equivocal of how the writers could possibly create yet another sequel that is new and engaging while still honoring the infamous structure of the franchise. The new film, which entered theaters on Jan. 4, 2022, rebranded the iconic “Scream” franchise by incorporating undeniable parallels to the original movie but presented them with fresh and clever angles that kept the suspense alive. 

The “Scream” legacy all began with director Wes Craven who revived the dying genre of horror with the original 1996 “Scream,” the highest-grossing slasher film worldwide until the release of “Halloween” in 2018. With Craven’s passing in 2015, fans questioned how the “Scream” franchise could feasibly be extended without its creative mastermind directing the movie. 

However, the new directors of “Scream” (2022), Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who together are known as Radio Silence, honored Wes’s original vision by integrating scenes, lines and choreography that visibly mirrored the 1996 film. The respect the directing duo has for Craven’s brilliancy is evident in their decision to name the character, Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), after him and by ending the film with the words, “For Wes.” 

“It’s impossible to fully express how much Wes Craven’s work and the “Scream” movies in particular mean to us as fans and have influenced us as storytellers” Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett said. “We’re insanely honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the cinematic world Wes and Kevin (screenwriter) so brilliantly created together.”

Every “Scream” movie starts out with an intense opening scene of Ghostface terrorizing his first victim and the new film is no different. The believable and captivating performance from Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), makes the audience understand and feel the terror Ghostface brings, setting the gory tone for the rest of the movie. After the attack, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) who is Tara’s older sister, returns to Woodsboro to find she has become Ghostface’s new main target. 

I know what you’re thinking, how does a seemingly random girl with no past connection to the previous Woodsboro’s killings become Ghostface’s main target? This is where screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick introduce an unexpected and creative twist that brings the haunting past of “Scream” (1996) back to the big screen. 

The “Scream” franchise is famous for making the audience think anyone and everyone could be the killer. Tara’s friends, Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison), Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), and the twins Mindy and Chad Meeks-Martin (Jasmine Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding), do an excellent job of making every character seem untrustworthy by continuously pointing fingers at each other. This exaggerated quality, even though it seems unrealistic by nature, intentionally keeps viewers in the dark to ensure the killer remains unobvious until the big reveal at the end of the movie. 

The film is full of sardonic references that purposefully satirize the horror genre and even the “Scream” franchise itself. As you watch the film, you cannot help but feel the juxtaposition of a life-threatening situation on screen against the playful cinematography, creating a unique feeling of suspense. In one such scene with Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), there are reoccurring moments where intensifying ominous music builds an uneasy feeling that Ghostface will strike, just to be anticlimactically dismissed. 

“Scream” illustrates that no characters are safe from bloodshed as demonstrated by the turning-point scene, an emotion-evoking and bone-chilling murder that will leave fans speechless. This is where “Scream” legends Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) return to Woodsboro after 11 years to put an end to the brutal killings.

Through a sequence of events, Sam and Tara stumble upon a memorial party for their slaughtered friend Wes. How else to end a slasher film other than a crowded house party while there’s a killer on the loose? Nevertheless, if you take a closer look, this is no ordinary house with a white-picket fence. It was this exact house that the original killers Billy Loomis and Stu Macher’s murderous rampage took place 25 years earlier. This genius parallel to the haunting past intensified the mood of the mass murder scene that fans know is about to come next. 

Once kicked out, partygoers wander into the night leaving only the central characters at the house, and giving Ghostface the perfect opportunity for the blood battle to begin. Ghostface veterans Sidney Prescott and Gale Weathers fearlessly help Sam take on the killer who once unmasked, is instinctually surprising; however, here you’ll find another parallel to the original film. Even though the killer’s psychotic presentation on screen is performed well, nothing beats the performances given by Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) in the first movie.

Even though “Scream 5” achieves heart-racing suspense and edge-of-your-seat thrills of any classic slasher film, the quality of the movie lies within the references to the iconic 1996 “Scream.” Non-fans couldn’t fully appreciate the film without understanding where the context originally comes from. For Screamheads, the witty parallels felt like experiencing the thrill of the first movie all over again but with a fresh and exciting storyline. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s creation of “Scream” (2022) succeeds in honoring and keeping Wes Craven’s legacy alive. 

The making of a sixth “Scream” film is being talked about but is yet to be confirmed.