NOC Review: ‘Scream’ is a Worthy Return to Woodsboro

Radio Silence (Ready or Not) delivers an earnest homage to Wes Craven with Scream while reinventing its meta core for a new generation. The story from writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick reconnects the past with the present seamlessly, creating real reasons for the legacy cast members to return to shepherd a new core group of friends living a requel of the Woodsboro tragedy. Yes, a requel (reboot+sequel) which the film pokes fun at itself with true to the franchise’s signature smarts and proving that it’s smarter than ever. 

Leading the film are the Carpenter sisters, Sam played by Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega as Tara. Together they take on a wholly new terror that rises to wreak havoc on a town that just can’t catch a break. When Ghostface shows up in their lives, you’re immediately endeared to their family which makes the rest of the movie SO FREAKIN’ STRESSFUL.

Barrera and Ortega complement each other as sisters. They are filled with so much fight and you just want to see them get through it all and keep surviving. And speaking for brown girls like me who grew up looking up to Sidney Prescott, finally seeing us as the final girl in a SCREAM MOVIE is something we’ve been waiting a long time for. And well worth the wait despite needing a bit more nuance.

Anyone could have been Sam and Tara, which is commendable but could be seen as a bit weird to omit culture out of their identity. And maybe it was likely to play it safe and not misrepresent but it may be hard to suspend disbelief for those who would like to be represented more authentically — whether they’re the final girl(s), victim(s) or killer(s).

Their core group of friends gets drawn in as well and some with their own unique connections to the past. Standouts from the bunch are for sure the twins played by Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding, who are just the coolest and you root for to not betray your hopes for them or die. Jack Quaid tags along with Sam as her charmingly goofy but so-no-ready for Ghostface boyfriend Richie. The rest of the new ensemble is filled out by Dylan Minnette as Wes Hicks, Sonia Ammar as Liv McKenzie, Mikey Madison as Amber Freeman, and Chester Tam as Deputy Vinson. Knives are truly out because one is safe in this film and all have reasons for potentially being the killer. Even the legacy ones! 

Dewey still resides in Woodsboro when the new murders begin, and he gets roped in despite his apprehension but thanks to his big ole heart. Arquette taps back into the role effortlessly as a lovable uncle who has seen some shit sorta way. Both Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox serve legend status even when the new characters doubt their help. As if these women didn’t TV to the face and double-tap to the killers to make it out of their movies. But this one may no longer be theirs and the same rules might not apply.

You wonder why anyone would even trust each other when somehow Ghostface keeps coming back for more than the past. The horror of the film and its effective kills is propelled by how much whoever is under the mask wants to remain in the zeitgeist of their own making. The film even posits how can Ghostface be as hard to kill as Michael Myers and by the third act really pulls off one of the most shocking endings in recent horror. 

There is no doubt that Scream’s real conceit lies in toying with the most rabid of fanbases’ expectations — not outdated analog tech. Within the film and outside of it, horror fans of the series are centered in a new way with new killer threads to follow. If you thought by now there was still plot armor on Gale, Dewey, or Sidney, the film really creates threats that make you question everything that came before. By the end, the story you thought you knew wholly transforms the series and yet feels like returning to the world of Craven’s and Williamson’s creation. 

Grade: B+