It's been 11 weeks since Scream  was released at the cinema and I'm still pissed off. It's not the worst film ever made but it sure is hell is the worst Scream film in the franchise. I don't trust a single person who thinks Scream 5 is better than Scream 2-4.
I saw this at the cinema. I try to see most horrors that are released because Australia is really good at not giving us movies - like for some reason they never released Krampus (even New Zealand had screenings!) despite it having an Aussie actress in it and they are really good at spending 6 months advertising film and then just not showing it - so by seeing what I can I like to hope my contribution shows cinemas us Aussies do actually love horror!
The opening scene is the same-old thing we except from a Scream film with someone getting a phone call and dying horribly. In this case it's Tara (Jenna Ortega) and this is probably the only scene in the film I do actually like. It gave me a chuckle the way she looked at the ringing telephone with disdain, I mean who has the audacity to RING a phone these days? The phone app locking/unlocking her doors was a nice nod to modern technology and Ghostface himself was brutal. Obviously any scene with someone being stabbed is brutal but this killer - especially that leg breaking scene - is taking it up a notch and you can sense Ghostface is actually enjoying inflicting pain. From there on it's just a big old mess.
We're introduced to Sam and her boyfriend Richie and she's getting a phone call that her sister Tara was attacked the night before. They jump in a car and head to Woodsboro. The film thinks we don't need any concept of time in the storyline. We have two sisters who haven't seen each other in what sounds like years and we know Sam is living in another town but with no concept of time we have no idea if it took them 30 minutes to get to Woodsboro or 5 hours.
We flash to a scene of teenagers sitting outside of a high school. Apparently they're all friends but you don't really get a sense of who they are and they don't seem to like each other that much. At this point you're wondering is it morning, their lunch break, or is it 3pm? Who the fuck knows because they all just left and now everyone is at the hospital. Now they're at a bar where some rando - who was earlier loitering in the school carpark like a total sex predator - is now at the bar picking a fight within 0.5 seconds of entering the room, showing us what a big man he is with his little knife and getting kicked of the bar. We'll never know who he is or what his actual problem is because that would require character development. This is also where my next gripe comes into play: In all 4 Scream movies Ghostface has been all about the cat and mouse game. The taunting phone calls, chasing/fighting etc it's all part of the fun. It builds the tension with the victim not knowing where Ghostface is and if this is a prank or if they're actually about to die. Nah this Ghostface just straight up comes out of nowhere and stabs this guy in the neck. If you blink, you may miss the scene.
Back at the hospital we find out Sam has 'visits' from Billy Loomis in his bloody shirt from his last night on Earth. Rightio. Not weird at all. This is another one of those character development moments we could benefit from. Like what medication is she on, and how long has she been on them? Why is she seeing Billy specifically in his bloody tshirt? Sam also gets a visit from Ghostface and seriously the break room is like 3 feet from the nurses station, it's literally the other side of the wall and somehow neither the nurse or security guard heard her screaming or shoving furniture around until she was practically at the nurses station? Sheriff Judy Hicks arrives on the scene where we get a lovely glimpse of Sam, the ever grateful final girl. She's just so thankful to be alive. Also, Amber is now there. Do American hospitals not have visiting hours? Speaking of hours, what time is it?
Then we get "legacy character" cameo #1: Dewey. The trailer gave his entire part of the film away: he now lives in a trailer, he's divorced, clearly not the sheriff anymore and he dies. We all knew this because we see Gale visibly distraught and no offence to Sidney but they aren't THAT close. I'm not even sure why people were surprised to find out Dewey and Gale were divorced now. The movies have kind of followed their relationship so I was expecting them to be divorced now, I was just expecting Gale to be a podcaster. It seemed like a natural progression from the video blogger in Scream 4. While I bring up Gale's career - the writers couldn't have given her the much desired Pulitzer? It sure would have made up for the terrible dialogue they gave her.
The REQUEL scene. What the actual fuck is this nonsense? Everyone arrives at the Meeks-Martin household where there is a gaudy shrine to Randy and we get our next cameo from Martha Meeks. Straight up I need to know what her husband looks like to have created two very attractive children. This is no offence to Martha, but Martha and Randy clearly shared the same gene pool and these kids do not. Back to "requels". I've never heard this word in my entire life until this very moment and I wish I still hadn't.
I agree with this sentiment because Scream 5 fucked with my special memories. I was 17-18 when Scream was released and seeing Scream 2 at the cinema is one of my top cinema memories. The cinema was packed out so we sat in the front row on the floor. Stabbings just sit different when there's a 10ft knife coming down at you. I also avoided public toilets for about six months after this. When Scre4m was being released I was so excited I dedicated a gig to the movie with metal bands and horror-themed burlesque. At the cinema I remember laughing at Officer (Anthony) Perkins and I still seem to be the only person who finds that funny.
So while Mindy over-excitedly tells us about 'requels' and what worked and what didn't work - the fact she disses Child's Play and praises the Halloween reboot is enough reason for her to die. Nobody should love a franchise that has it's own Choose Your Own Adventure theme because that's the very definition of shitting on the fans - she also adds "nobody cares about the shitty inferior sequels Wes, you're safe"...except he isn't because Wes and his mum die in the next scene. Congratulations on not sticking to your own rules!
The Dewey scene. I'm not talking about it. We all know the writers fucked this one up but here we have another case not knowing how much time has passed between scenes. Sidney has gone from never coming to Woodsboro ever again to being on the screen letting us know she came as soon as she heard. Who told her? So does Sidney live 5 minutes from the hospital or is this the next day? There's no coherent flow to this movie at all.
Stu Macher's house finally gets its cameo and I swear they only killed Wes so they could have the FOR WES banner at the party. We get it guys, you made the movie For Wes but also imagine dedicating a character in Wes Craven's honour and then giving him a really lame death. This is all very clever. The problem with the end is literally everything. We have Sid and Gail having a moment in their car ride where Gale says none of this would have ever happened if she never wrote the book about Maureen. Sidney tells her no, "Billy Loomis started this". My blood boiled. ROMAN STARTED THIS!!!! You can't pick and choose when a sequel is going to be relevant.
The killers motive is basically 'my parents bought a house and then I met a boy on the internet and now we're killing people'. The movie starts like it's going to be linked to Stu because nobody remembers he's the killer and then for the rest of the film we forget about Stu...again. It's all about Billy. It would have been better if it was Vincent running around killing people like some sort of vengeance for his dead uncle's memory. He clearly had some psycho vibes. We're given some lazy writing in the form of a re-enactment of a re-enactment of Randy on the couch, and we see the girl with chronic asthma with duct tape over her mouth. Let me stop you right here: asthmatics are mouth breathers. If the dentist doesn't stab a whole in the latex crap he puts over my teeth, I can't breathe. Add this to the fact she desperately needed her inhaler then the tape over her mouth should have killed her or at the very least had her unconscious. Not wanting to make that the only medical faux pas in the film, Sam stabs Richie 22 times including once straight through his cheeks and somehow Richie still has the ability to ask "what about my ending?" Ugh.
When the movie ended, I turned to my friend and said "Scream 6 best be Wes Craven back from the dead seeking revenge for this movie".
Scream 5 lacks any kind of character development and I can't decide if that's thanks to the script, the acting or both. None of the characters have much of a personality so that doesn't help either. Vincent is just sort of there and then he isn't, but we find out Stu suddenly has a sister and this is her offspring. So he's a character for the sake of having a character. He serves no purpose to the plot other than to make it seem like the killer's have a purpose - which also makes no sense considering the killings are all about the first Scream film and Stu didn't have a sibling.
Sam is just awful. In any other horror movie Sam would have had her ass handed to her for being an entitled brat. She's rude to the sheriff, she's obnoxious to Gale and Sidney. I honestly hoped Gale would punch her. A man dies saving your life and the best you've got to offer is attitude? Nope. She is not Final Girl material. One of the killers I picked the moment they were on the screen, they didn't even try to hide the fact they're a sociopath. Also I know everybody loves Mindy and I want to like her but she's irritating. Randy was the knowledgable film geek without being an ass about it. Mindy is all "I am so smart and you peasants are on my suspect list" except she's not very smart at all because even at that last moment she hadn't narrowed down her suspect list. In fact she followed one of the killers into a basement.
The script definitely failed the OG3. Gale comes on the screen and she's instantly all caring and sympathetic to Sam? When in four movies has Gale EVER been nice and empathetic to anybody? Nobody suddenly wakes up on their 57th birthday and has a personality change. Will Scream 6 have us finding out Gale is a pod person? The dialogue between Gale and Dewey is a total cringefest that belongs in a daytime television movie. Then we've got Sheriff Judy who suddenly has a teenage son. Where was he in Scre4m? He would have been 6-7 years old then so sure not really relevant to the storyline but she was busy lusting after Dewey and baking him gifts. Remember her "you're not cheating on your wife if you eat my lemon square". Maybe not Judy but are you cheating on your husband? Where is he? Why give us any details when you can just dedicate 10 minutes to Wes setting the table for dinner instead. The only character arc I liked was finding out Sidney and Mark Kincaid made babies - but why reference Scream 3 if we apparently don't like the sequels? MAKE IT MAKE SENSE!!
The Kills. After the opening scene they really aren't that interesting but also I don't believe at all that Richie is even a killer in this movie. Hear me out:
1. Tara - it's Amber's phone and what teenager isn't so self involved they make videos of themselves getting ready?
2. Vince in the bar carpark - seeing as Amber just left the bar as well and Rich is at the hospital this one is just blatantly obvious.
2. Judy - Sam drove off leaving Richie at the Meeks house, since he doesn't know anyone else except Dewey, he would have driven him back to the hotel since we know he's at the there watching YouTube videos. But being logical, do we really think Ghostface is catching an Uber to his next kill site? So it has to be Amber again.
3. Wes - this felt like the longest, most pointless scene in the film. Wes in the shower, Wes setting the table, all those dramatic "OMG THE KILLER IS BEHIND THE DOOR!" which was done to death. Seriously, horror hasn't used that trope in over a decade. What got me was the fact he walks out to find the front door open, goes up to it, just stands there and then closes it. Sorry but if I just found my front door open I'd be looking outside before closing it! Still Amber.
4. Security Guard and Dewey - Amber
5. Chad - Amber because Richie was driving a car to the house.
6. Mindy - this is the only time Richie actually does something...and he stabs her in the shoulder or some shit.
7. Pink haired girl - again with the award-winning dialogue - Amber is all "ermagerd I was with Tara so one of you is the killer" then milliseconds later "we know you're not the killer BANG". Amber really can't commit to pretending to be normal can she?
So there you have it. Richie isn't a killer. All he did was fail at attacking Mindy and then he failed us by stabbing Sam in the gut instead of in her face to end our misery.
On the upside, some of the cinematography wasn't bad. As much as that hospital scene with Dewey sucked, a couple of the ways they framed Ghostface did make it seem menacing, I just wish the story matched the visuals energy. The fact Scream 6 is coming out so fast doesn't give me much hope of it being any better. It sucks because Ready Or Not is such a great movie but Scream 5 really could have used a few more script revisions. It feels like they threw all their ideas on paper and hoped for the best.