Scream review: So very close to being a perfect horror sequel
Prepare yourself, this is a SHOCKINGLY vicious horror sequel...
We are in the age of legacy sequels.
Or sometimes they're called rebootquels, or requels for short.
Essentially, they don't completely restart a franchise from scratch, but they do add in enough new elements to qualify as a reboot, while also maintaining a fair amount of the original characters to also be considered a sequel.
We're talking about The Force Awakens, or Jurassic World, or if you want to keep it within the horror genre, the recent return to Halloween.
If any franchise deserved a requel, it was Scream, which feels practically custom-built to throw some knowing looks towards the fourth wall while describing the new rules for this fresh form of sequel.
And for the majority of the runtime, this new Scream movie handles it fantastically well, mixing in some interesting new characters, tying them smartly to the survivors of the originals and some well-placed nods towards the other sequels within the series.
Following the passing of Wes Craven, new directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who previously directed the vastly underrated Ready Or Not) and screenwriter James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) bring both a high IQ and surprising viciousness to proceedings, all while keeping a reverence for the brand as a whole.
It all seems to be adding up to something great... until the final act when things start to fall apart.
We're not going to give too much away here, as even the trailers for the movie have been pretty stingy with actual plot details.
So for now, know that a new killer (or killers) are attacking seemingly innocent victims in Woodsboro, but word soon gets out that they may be somehow connected to previous victims (or killers), which brings the central trio - Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette - back into the fold.
The younger cast members, including Melissa Barrera (In The Heights), Mason Gooding (Booksmart), Jenna Ortega (Jane The Virgin), Jack Quaid (The Boys), Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why) and Jasmin Savoy Brown (Yellowjackets) all successfully manage to leave an impression, doing more than just being eventual knife fodder.
The stalk 'n' slash scenes are handled fantastically well, prolonging the tension and paying it off with some surprisingly gory kills, while the fun, meta-takes of the current state of horror are mostly delivered very well; less the screechy/nerdy Randy character delivery from previous entries, more the funnily borderline-apathetic takes you'll find littered across Twitter.
It all feels like it could be the perfect sequel, all it needs to do is stick the landing... which is where it falls apart.
After the well-balanced set-up, the ending feels maddeningly rushed, and the denouement we're given is much less interesting than a dozen alternatives that the audience undoubtedly conjured up while trying to get to the bottom of this particular whodunnit.
Perhaps that itself can be explained away as a result of a requel - just like at how Rise of Skywalker concluded - but that doesn't make it feel any less disappointing when compared to the really good stuff that came just before.
Scream is released in Irish cinemas on Friday, 14 January.
Clips via Paramount UK