Scream 5 elicits more uncertainty than excitement

a creature with a long black mouth and drowsy black eyes

Shreya Jagannathan

The latest installment of the franchise Scream released in Jan 2022.

Shreya Jagannathan, Features Editor

Warning: some plot and character spoilers alluded to.

After more than a decade, the latest installment of the “Scream” franchise was released on Jan. 14, 2022. The quintessential killer, a black hooded figure with a plastic white mask that swept audiences off their feet in 1996 was back again. Newly released “Scream 5” flounders in the nostalgia of the iconic “Scream” (1996), but with a storyline lacking in originality and its well known striking scares. Directors Matt-Bettinelli and Tyler Gillet continue the overrun story of “Scream,” with the iconic hooded ghostface that kills with intent, grotesquery and gruesomeness.

 Due to the death of original director Wes Craven in 2015 who directed the previous films, this project was taken over by directors Matt Bettinelli and Tyler Gillet. As the fifth film in the franchise, Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers), Skeet Ulrich (Billy Loomis) and David Arquette (Dewey) all reprise their original roles. Although they were central characters to the story, many new faces grace the screen as the main protagonists.

The opening scene mimics the start of the first film where ghostface is first seen in action. Teenage Tara (Jenna Ortega) is home alone cooking, when the phone rings. A deep and flirtatious voice speaks, and unknowing that it’s a horror movie obsessed murderer, Ortega entertains conversation on the phone when things suddenly take a turn for the worse. 

Scream takes the audience back to the horrifying town of Woodsboro where ghostface keeps reappearing every few years. Starting with an innocent game and then threatening to kill them one way or another.

Tara’s (Ortega) sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) then makes her debut into the film as another main character. Together they navigate the series of events they are about to overcome and how this may be intertwined with the past.

We then meet the rest of the friend group, much like the original. Having already seen how this story ends in the first film, it was instinct to analyze each of the friends’ behavior. Who could it be, the well meaning boyfriend? The over protective best friend? The comically funny friend? The all-knowing friend? The friend that seems as though they are always high? Or the friend that no one would suspect because they are too quiet? That’s the entertainment that comes with these sorts of morbid films. A classic murder mystery.

Unfortunately these new characters posed a new set of problems, each with their own backstory and plotline which was hard to follow. We see a half written rekindled love between Gale and Dewey that seemed unnecessary, but also seemed like the director’s attempt of incorporating a romantic aspect, broken family relationships and far too many connections between the new characters and the old ones. The connections being that this entire new generation was each somehow related to the previous generation. Unfortunately, these connections and extra unconventional unfinished storylines did nothing more than take away from the macabre and horror aspect of the film.

Regardless, it’s safe to say that the CGI and editing in this film has improved considerably since the 1996 film. The imbrued knife and dripping blood looked unbelievably realistic. The new angles used by Bettinelli and Gillet were intense and sure to leave viewers at the edge of their seats. This film is not for those who are squeamish when they see blood.

But where the directors fell short was the storyline. They took a concept of psycho people who get inspired by movies to kill, but considering that there was a real murder in 2006 that was inspired purely by the original “Scream”, the directors really could have made the reasoning realistic. But, for a film that was mainly focused on the concept of a murder mystery, when the identity of ghostface revealed the motive, the explanation was less than satisfactory. It was never fully explained why there was a murderer. No backstory or compelling rationale; simply that they were interested in killing. 

Reflecting on the movie, there were multiple moments where someone blatantly pointed out who the killer was. Usually viewers would see that and believe no it can’t be that obvious, but sometimes it really is. In the original, who the killer is makes sense based on their motive and storyline, but in this case all it did was leave viewers with more questions.

That was an interesting aspect they could have pursued further. With this film they tried to create something that would have an even bigger impact and response from viewers than the original had. But while trying to extend over these expectations, they overlooked many details in the film’s overall storyline and personal storylines by adding too many of them and leaving them unfinished.

In an attempt to create a fresh storyline with connections, new characters and emotional redemption, the directors ended up overshooting their goal, making the film more confusing than thrilling. They proved that the sequel can almost never be as good as the original.