The iconic ghost-face mask first glimpsed in 1996’s Scream gets yet another outing in the ironically titled Scream (16s), which opens, as the original did, with a girl — in this case Tara (Jenny Ortega) — at home alone having a phone conversation with a creepy guy.
Here the conversation revolves around whether the infamous Stab franchise of movies is schlocky old jump-scare rubbish, at least compared to more sophisticated ‘elevated horror’ such as The Babadook, all of which, and the inevitable stabbing frenzy that follows, establishes an archly knowing tone for this ‘requel’ (half reboot, as one of the characters tells us, and half sequel).
When older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) arrives home to care for the hospitalised Tara, she’s horrified to hear that Woodsboro’s ghost-face is on the prowl once more; and as the body count rises, some familiar faces — Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Riley (Courtney Cox) and her brother Dewey (David Arquette) — emerge from the past to take on the latest incarnation of their old foe ...
Written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and directed by Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, the latest Scream is a self-described ‘meta slasher whodunit’ that delivers handsomely on all three elements.
Connoisseurs of old-fashioned slasher flicks get bucket-loads of blood en route to the unmasking of the unlikeliest of killers, although it’s the self-referential aspects of the story, both in terms of the Scream franchise and the horror movie genre itself, that will likely prove most satisfying for fans.
Be warned, though: if you’re not a fan, you might find it all rather wearingly self-involved.