Scream 'requel' unites legacy characters and fresh faces in a familiar storyline

 Ghostface is back in the new Scream
Damon Smith

SCREAM (18, 114 mins) Horror/Thriller/Romance. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Marley Shelton, Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Dylan Minnette, Jack Quaid, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Sonia Ammar. Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin. Tyler Gillett.

Released: January 14

EVERY blood-soaked chapter of the Scream franchise boasts a self-referential monologue, which excitedly removes bricks from the fourth wall separating characters and audience to conveniently explain the rules of that instalment's killing game.

In the 1996 original, losing your virginity, taking drugs or saying "I'll be right back" were definite no-nos.

The sequel taught us that body counts increase while the third and fourth films emphasised a lead hero(ine) is expendable, you can never outrun the past and the unexpected is the new cliche.

The fifth outing of Ghostface, and the first since the death of director Wes Craven, discloses that we are watching neither a reboot nor a sequel.

This Scream is a 'requel': a polished new generation of horror such as the 2018 Halloween, which unites legacy characters and fresh faces in a storyline that harks back to the original with contemporary flourishes.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's return to Woodsboro might be the first film in the series to reveal the killer's identity in advance of the obligatory final reel unmasking.

Pick up on the clue and it's possible to remain in step with screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and unknot chunks of the tangled plot.

In hindsight, an audacious third act hinges on a happenstance that proves fortune favours the deranged as much as the brave.

Twenty-five years after the sleepy California town of Woodsboro first cowered at the mention of Ghostface, a maniac in the distinctive mask attacks high school student Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) in the family home.

Older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) races to her sibling's hospital bedside with boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) in tow.

Tara's circle of shocked friends Amber (Mikey Madison), Liv (Sonia Ammar), Wes (Dylan Minnette) and the twins Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) are potential suspects – and victims – as the town's mortuary fills at an alarming rate.

Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) from Scream 4 investigates and against their better judgment, seasoned survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), morning TV reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and former sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) are drawn into the community's latest nightmare.

Scream is derivative but stylishly executed by the diabolical duo responsible for 2019's lip-smackingly sadistic game of hide and seek, Ready Or Not, including a rather touching on-screen tribute to Craven.

In-jokery escalates with a character watching footage from original screenwriter Kevin Williamson's teen TV drama Dawson's Creek.

Returning cast Campbell, Cox and Arquette accomplish impressive emotional heavy lifting in limited screen time while Ortega goes back and forth through the wringer in the hope she might survive beyond the unlisted telephone call of the opening sequence.

"Something about this one just feels different," cryptically mutters Dewey to Sidney. Not really.


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