Review: ‘Scream’ requel offers commentary on toxic fandom

Paramount Pictures

If you’re a fan of Wes Craven’s “Scream” and its three sequels, you’ll likely be inclined to enjoy the fifth iteration of the franchise despite the fact the noted horror director has passed away and passed the torch on to Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.

The directing duo do Craven justice with their wickedly fun, but brutal “requel” succinctly titled “Scream.”

“Requel” is the new slang for a movie in a franchise that both continues the story, but also revisits familiar tropes so much so that it is as much a remake as it is a continuation of the story. Blame J.J. Abram’s blockbuster hit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for this new-ish trend in sequel making.

The latest “Scream” resets the stage in Woodsboro with a new cast of gorgeous but terrorized teens, and brings back characters such as David Arquette’s Dewey, Neve Campbell’s Sidney, Courteney Cox’s Gale and of course the stabby killer Ghostface as well as a few other fun surprises.

I have to say I was totally surprised with how much I enjoyed the movie both as a continuation of the franchise that turned serial-killer movies on its head back when the original film debuted in 1996, and as commentary on toxic fandom. We all know those fans who love a property so much that they tend to ruin it for themselves and everyone else. They take a hit in this movie.

Newcomers Melissa Barrera as Sam and Jenna Ortega as Tara inject a new vibrancy into the familiar franchise as key new characters in the ensemble film that contains more than its fair share of frightfully brutal scares and head-shaking surprises.

Tara is Ghostface’s first attack. Sam, Tara’s older sister, and her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) as well as several of her friends gather to support Tara’s recovery, and that’s when the movie takes off.

The film really kicks into gear in the third act with some well-orchestrated twists mostly work to keep you on the edge of your seat. The pace in that final act is furious, and perhaps it could have allowed some of the shocks to sink in a bit better before jetting forward, but frankly that is nit-picking.

While I’m not a fan of slasher films in general, I do enjoy the metatextual commentary that Craven stitched into his fiendishly fun franchise from the first film and that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett honor with this movie. It is also nostalgic and pleasing to see Campbell, Arquette, and Cox together as connective tissue to the original film.

However, I am not looking forward to “Scream VI, XV or XX” in a quarter century that will serve as a reunion picture for this sequel. I enjoyed the movie, but hopefully Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett as well as other horror directors will create some new monsters to make us scream.

(R) 1 hr. 54 min.
Grade: B-

  New in Local Theaters

Scream (watch trailer) / (R) 1 hr. 54 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight

Belle (watch trailer) / (PG) 2 hr. 2 min. / Malco Razorback

Classic Corner – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington / Columbia Pictures

If you need an escape from the current state of the national political scene, why not take a trip back to a simpler time?

How about to 1939, which happens to be one of the greatest year of movies that Hollywood ever produced.

“Gone With the Wind” almost swept the Oscars that year, but director Frank Capra’s ode to the best intentions of our founding fathers, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” garnered 11 nominations and won Best Writing for an Original Story.

?The movie shows at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Turner Classic movies as part of a night of Capra classics.

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur follows at 9:30 p.m. “You Can’t Take It With You” starring Arthur and Jimmy Stewart plays at 11:45 p.m.

“It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert plays at 2 a.m., and “Lady For a Day” starring Warren William and May Robson at 4 a.m.

“Mr. Smith Goest to Washington” is one of Capra’s best movies and features one of Stewart’s many best performances. That’s saying a lot in both cases. Jean Arthur, Claude Rains and Edward Arnold also give key performances among a cast filled with familiar faces to old-timey movie fans.

Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a wide-eyed local activist who runs a newspaper young readers. He is picked to be the stooge for a political machine when it needs to replace a senator who died in office.

When Smith arrives in Washington, Stewart is naïve and overwhelmed by the monumental honor and task set before him, but he’s not weak or corrupt as his home-state political machine soon finds out as he mounts a filibuster to make sure his state finds out how corrupt its elected officials really are.

One good man stands up to fight for what’s right despite the crushing power of his opposition.

Yes, it’s Capra corn, but it sure is tasty.