Scream First Reviews: A Bloody, Funny Thrill Ride That Honors Wes Craven's Legacy

Critics say this affectionately crafted "requel" is a triumphant return to the meta franchise that offers gory pleasures, fun new additions to the cast, and genuine twists that will keep fans guessing.

by | January 12, 2022 | Comments

Another film franchise is back, and like many others of late, it’s as meta as can be. That’s the tradition for the Scream series, however, and the latest installment, plainly titled Scream, apparently doesn’t hold back. The first reviews of the fifth movie celebrate the slasher sequel — or “requel” — as one of the best of the brand, a tribute to the creation of the late Wes Craven that also mocks itself and fans of all stripes.

Here’s what critics are saying about Scream:

How does it compare to the rest of the franchise?

The best sequel in the series. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

The new movie is right up there with Scream 2 as the best sequel of the series. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Not just a very good sequel but also a film that feels like a worthy and indelible chapter in the ongoing Scream saga. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

A terrific return to form. – Jon Negroni, Cinemaholics

It does feel like this sequel [is] missing that sort of ‘emphatic’ statement that we’ve come to ex-pect from the Scream films (its thesis feels a little safe in comparison to Scream 4). – Heather Wixson, Daily Dead

Does it honor Wes Craven’s legacy?

Scream would make the late Wes Craven incredibly proud. – Cass Clarke, CBR

What directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have managed to create with this newest entry in the Scream franchise not only thrilled me as a fan, but I think it would have made Wes Craven extremely proud as well. – Heather Wixson, Daily Dead

It feels like he would approve of this return to the fictional American town of Woodsboro, which injects some originality back into this most meta of horror franchises. – James Mottram, South China Morning Post

Evident respect for Craven that shines through here, with this feeling like a sequel that he himself would have helmed. – Peter Gray, The AU Review

The movie is a love letter to both Craven and the events of the previous sequels. – Corey Chichizola, CinemaBlend

Producer William Sherak, director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, executive producer Kevin Williamson, co-director Tyler Gillett, and executive producer Chad Villella on the set of Scream (2022)

(Photo by Brownie Harris/©Paramount Pictures)

Are the new filmmakers a good fit?

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett previously blew me away with Ready or Not, and they bring all of that creativity her. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

They’re best known for the 2019 film Ready or Not, one of those self-aware films with Scream in every pore of its DNA, making the pair a good fit… Scream is basically a film by a group of Scream fans. – Germain Lussier,

Although the new Scream comes from new screenwriters and new filmmakers, it still fits impressively into the longstanding tradition. Their Scream is a very, very, very fine Scream. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

This is certainly the most stylishly directed of all the sequels. – Anton Bitel, Little White Lies

Will it please fans?

The new Scream doesn’t leave its fans behind, but it makes sure to speak to a newer audience, one that has grown up with horror films like The Babadook and Hereditary. – Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant

It’s a strange symphony of both calling extreme fandoms out, at the same time as including elements to please them. – Kat Hughes, THN

It’s unafraid to piss off fans if it’s for the good of the story. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Re-contextualize[s] what a slasher can do and say in 2022, specifically when it comes to how certain segments of fandom in movies and games and everything else can learn the wrong lessons about the very stories that shape their obsessions. – Jon Negroni, Cinemaholics

The new movie simply becomes a live-action retelling of the online discourse you can find on Twitter… amplifying the most toxic fans, where the original was celebrating the sophistication of horror lovers. – Fred Topel, United Press International

Ghostface in Scream (2022)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Will you need to see all the other sequels first?

Scream doesn’t go as far to retcon the events of the previous entries, but you don’t need to be well versed in Scream lore to tag along for the rid. – Nate Adams, AwardsWatch

Though it does cater to fans with certain mentions and call-backs, it’s intelligent enough not to exclude the unversed either. – Peter Gray, The AU Review

I saw at least the first 2 movies… but my memory of details is dim. I still enjoyed it. And I think I got most of the in-jokes. – David Poland, Hot Button

You do not have to know the 1996 original or any of its sequels to enjoy Scream. It’s a standalone blast. But if you grew up on these movies, this film is like a bloody message of love for you. – Hope Madden, MaddWolf

This film can stand on its own, but due to the volume of callbacks, Easter eggs and reveals, it works best if you watch all four films before viewing — or at least Scream and Scream 4. – Cass Clarke, CBR

How are the kills?

The death scenes in Scream are shockingly brutal too, so if you’re into slicing and dicing, that news should undoubtedly thrill you. – Heather Wixson, Daily Dead

The death sequences are certainly interesting. The biggest change-up is that this time around the deaths are gorier; audiences are treated to much more maiming, violence, and gore than before. – Kat Hughes, THN

It also features some of the gruesomest and most original killings of the franchise.Nate Adams, AwardsWatch

This new Scream is by far the most violent, gruesome, and gory film in the series. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

The new movie is a brutal watch with tense set pieces coupled with shocking and violent kills. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Perhaps the most brutal of them all, the ferocity adhered to in which this 2022 Ghostface launches at his prey lends the film an air of violent unpredictability. – Peter Gray, The AU Review

Melissa Barrera in Scream (2022)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

But is it scary?

Bettiinelli-Olpin and Gillet clearly understand the need to deliver tension, gore and straight-up scares alongside the clever references. On this aspect, Scream delivers – big time. – James Mottram, South China Morning Post

It’s scary without resorting to cheap scares or gimmicks. – Peter Gray, The AU Review

The filmmakers have worked in tandem to make Ghostface a terrifying presence. – Nate Adams, AwardsWatch

The scares are rather underwhelming, but they’re luckily overshadowed by the film’s better qualities. – Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant

And is it funny?

It’s also extremely funny. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

It’s funny without talking down to audiences or the genre. – Peter Gray, The AU Review

There are jokes that work on all kinds of different levels.David Poland, Hot Button

Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt forgot that the Scream movies were horror-comedies… The new Scream makes few attempts at comic relief.Fred Topel, United Press International

Are there twists?

There are legit surprises. And intentional abuses of your movie loving expectations.David Poland, Hot Button

It plays with your expectations in a way that keeps you guessing from start to finish.Germain Lussier,

There are certain plot points that I never saw coming. It’s in this way that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett effectively put their stamp on the beloved franchise. – Corey Chichizola, CinemaBlend

Jenna Ortega in Scream (2022)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

How is the script overall?

Writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick crafted expert-level dialogue for the whole of the cast. – Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

The script from James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick is super clever and entertaining, and I enjoyed how it dabbled just enough in the world of nostalgia without ever feeling like it was trapped by it either. – Heather Wixson, Daily Dead

Aside from the lack of humor, the script is also very clumsy with exposition. – Fred Topel, United Press International

How is the returning cast?

It’s David Arquette who leaves a bigger mark… This movie allows Arquette to truly develop Dewey beyond what we’ve seen before. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Arquette is perhaps the best part of this film… as quirky as ever, but there’s an added poignancy to the role now that makes him a standout. – Don Kaye, Den of Geek

Busick and Vanderbilt’s script gives Arquette plenty of character to chew on (he’s lost the most), which helps create a full circle moment during the climactic third act showdown. – Nate Adams, AwardsWatch

What about the new players?

The new cast are suitably fresh and exciting, the film a potential springboard for several of them to go on to bigger things. – Kat Hughes, THN

The good news is that the core cast absolutely rises to the challenge of inheriting this beloved world and all its quirks and indulgences. – Jon Negroni, Cinemaholics

Among the film’s young ensemble cast, Mikey Madison stands out as ranting paranoiac Amber, as does Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin. – Katie Rife, AV Club

There are some outstanding performances from supporting cast members, like Yellowjackets star Jasmin Savoy Brown. – Corey Chichizola, CinemaBlend

Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin… [is] arguably one of the series’ most beloved characters, an immediate stand-out. – Peter Gray, The AU Review

Jasmin Savoy Brown in Scream (2022)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Is the film reminiscent of anything else?

David Gordon Green’s Halloween appears to be the template but, if you turn your head and look at it from the right angle, so does the latest Star Wars trilogy. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Like Spider-Man: No Way Home and the current trilogy of Halloween films from the David Gordon Green group, the new Scream is very much aware of its roots and the history of the genre. And I would say that the success level is right in between those two films. – David Poland, Hot Button

Spider-Man: No Way Home for horror fans, this iteration of Scream rewards loyal fans without alienating those new to the property. – Kat Hughes, THN

Scream would make an excellent double feature with The Matrix Resurrections, another legacy sequel that playfully anguishes over its own existence.. – Vinnie Mancuso, Collider

Unlike another recent decade-late meta-sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, Scream seems overjoyed to be playing in an established IP sandbox. – Katie Rife, AV Club

How well is its meta commentary executed?

Unlike the valiant and surprising Scream 4, which took a similar approach, the new Scream has a more rigorously battle-tested formula to lampoon, giving its meta humor a lot more weight. – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Scream goes harder into the meta commentary than its predecessors, but in a way that works every single time. – Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

The social commentary on revived franchises and sequels seemed a little too on the nose. – Nate Adams, AwardsWatch

Its ironic self-consciousness about how tired its material has become does not ultimately make it any less tired. – Anton Bitel, Little White Lies

This movie exists because of the culture that keeps reviving dormant franchises, and yet it is conflicted about its commentary on that very phenomenon. – Fred Topel, United Press International

Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox in Scream (2022)

(Photo by Brownie Harris/©Paramount Pictures)

Does the film have any major problems?

Not all of Scream works and there’s creative liberties and questionable choices taken that’ll be divisive. – Nate Adams, AwardsWatch

With so many new characters vying for screen time against the legacy players, many of them are under-developed. – Kat Hughes, THN

If you’re not willing to cut these movies just a teensy bit of slack by now, why are you even still here? – William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Does it leave us wanting more Scream?

Were audiences to want it, there is enough meat left on the bones at the end of Scream to pave a through line for a continuation, though ending events here feels like the right thing to do. – Kat Hughes, THN

If this is the end of the franchise, it’s going out on a high note. If it’s new life, it’s a bold sign of what might be to com. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Perhaps the most successful — and certainly the most impressive — aspect of this new entry is that it leaves you excited for a future that may not even require Sidney Prescott’s involvement. – Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

I’d certainly be happy to get another one of these Scream movies every decade or so. – Jon Negroni, Cinemaholics

Scream sets up plenty of exciting directions for where the franchise could go next, should it continue its witty and blood-soaked legacy. With Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett at the helm, Woodsboro’s teens are in good hands. – Cass Clarke, CBR

Scream is in theaters on January 14, 2022.

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