Let’s not have a good time.
Scream 5 is a terrible film that should have never been made. I want to make my position as clear as possible before even starting the review. I heard about an elementary school kid who puked in his mask. He had a better day than anyone watching this movie.
We follow sisters Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Sam (Melissa Barrera) as they two reconnect after Tara is attacked by the ghostface killer. She survives the opening assault, and that is what it takes to be considered a fresh spin.
Follow a group of unlikable cliches as they wander through a poorly paced and frankly boring Scream film that has become a caricature of itself for a while now. Sure, we get our old faces back (and one of the dies—and this decision is probably more based on not wanting to be a part of series anymore) and we tread the old haunts (literally), but the magic is gone.
What is funny about this film is that it seems to predict how tepid and turgid the whole enterprise has become. With our killers making a point that toxic fandom is really to blame for serial killers, or something like that. Yes, I am being glib here. However, if you watched this film more than two days ago you may have a hard time explaining what exactly the point was of this whole thing.
I’m not a huge Scream fan, but this one seems to push the film beyond its logical boundaries. For me, the series has gone too meta, which is odd given its foundations. However, the first scream remains a slasher film with the meta commentary cut away (and an above average one at that). Here, the meta commentary has bled too far into the world building and characterization. Without the meta there is nothing anymore.
I know that a lot of folks like this aspect of the series, and it can be fun, but let’s be honest that this one went a step too far. We have too much genre discussion in a film that refuses to reinvent anything about itself. If the folks writing this are such movie hounds, why didn’t they do something different? I feel like this is terrible fanfiction as best.
Instead of just ragging on the movie the whole review, I thought I may as well give my two cents as someone who studies film and what maybe they should consider in the future. The series is in its fifth iteration, which means that we’re kind of stuck with how things are now. The inevitable reboot or revision will eventually come, but we still have a sort of cinematic DNA to work with, so how can we make it better?
The strange thing about this film is that when they’re trying to be funny it often works. The humor isn’t cheesy or frequent enough to redeem the film. (A late in film joke about a torch is delightful). Why not lean more into the humor? I’m picturing an almost Hot Fuzz version of Scream here. Why not? The film has always been a little bit of comedy and a bit of horror melded. Here (and in the last one) I think they went too far to the horror side. It simply won’t work as well as horror.
I’d like to see them change or drop the meta elements. The metanalytical components should be asking the audience to consider their role to the genre, or the genres role to society, but neither is the case. Here, we have genre discussion gussied up meta-discourse, which is a little cheap in my opinion. Metacommentary can work, and the series has done it before, but I think they should examine Funny Games to see something that does it in a different (and more engaging) way.
I feel distant from these movies. Nothing about them makes me want to participate in the mystery or the discussion surrounding the genre. We end up with the same final act slog in each one (why can’t the killer just kill?) and nothing new happens. I feel that the series has become a bit of an inside joke that wants to alienate the viewer into mindless appreciation for its supposed wit. The sad thing is that this series has a lot going for it and didn’t have to become such a pathetic joke of itself.
Terrible filmmaking all around. I look forward to forgetting this one. (Though I am sure it will make a reappearance in the worst of the year).
Puke in your mask instead of watching this.