The day we thought might never come has arrived: the fifth “Scream” movie is finally here. The first entry in the franchise in a decade is also the first without the involvement of the franchises’ late director, Wes Craven. If you’re waiting to see “Scream” number five at home, the movie should follow Paramount’s Covid-era protocol for home release, with a streaming premiere 45 days after its theatrical release. If that is the case, this may not be the article for you, as we are about to get deep into SPOILERS for the new movie.
Seriously, don’t even scroll down. Click away, now.
The new “Scream” does a lot well, from its return to the more outright humor of the original film to its meta-commentary on legacy sequels (I love you Mindy, but no one calls them Re-quels) and toxic fandom. Its greatest triumph might be in its casting, as several of the key players in the new film make a strong impression and could easily carry future “Scream” movies if the occasion arose. “Scream” also has a whole lot of fun killing its talented cast. The kills in “Scream” are genuinely scary in a way the franchise hasn’t been in a while. They’re more brutal and sadistic, and more up close and personal. When the killers are finally unmasked, it makes sense that they’re “Stab” fanatics, because their kills read like a love letter to Ghostface, written in blood with a 21st-century rage that outpaces the original killers’.
Here’s every kill scene in “Scream” 2022, ranked in order of awesomeness and impact.
Liv (Sonia Ben Ammar) is probably the least interesting red herring in the new “Scream.” As Chad’s (Mason Gooding) new girlfriend, she’s suspicious because she’s not that close to the core group, but Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) also tells her she’s too boring to be the killer. Her only real moment in the spotlight comes at Wes’ (Dylan Minnette) memorial-turned-rager, where she and Chad get into a fight after he refuses to go upstairs with her in case she really is the new Ghostface.
Liv wanders in and out of these scenes in a way that kind of makes no sense, but definitely makes her look suspicious. She’s drunk and confused and at one point literally has Chad’s blood on her hands. But when Ghostface arrives and the core cast regroups, she’s finally had enough. “I’m not the killer!” she shrieks, and Amber (Mikey Madison) suddenly shoots her squarely in the head. “I know,” Amber says.
This moment worked for me, as the chaos of the night needed to come to a screeching halt somehow, and Liv’s death was a one-two punch that both revealed a killer in a novel way and disposed of a character the movie wasn’t doing much with. Still, if any moment in “Scream” 2022 embodies the film’s tendency to be a little too on the nose, it’s this one.
Another character who was dispatched before we got to know him, we’re told after the fact that Vince (Kyle Gallner) was a relative of Stu’s (Matthew Lillard). When we do see him alive, it’s when he flirts with Liv and threatens Chad at the bar. Gallner is an awesome addition to any cast, and if he’d stuck around longer, I definitely would’ve started imagining Vince might be the killer, but he’s executed by Ghostface before we can really wonder.
Vince, drunk and just ejected from the bar, is peeing on a wall when he finds himself in Ghostface’s crosshairs. Bright headlights shine on him, but when he approaches the car to see who’s harassing him, it’s empty. The trick doesn’t go on too long. Ghostface pops up and kills Vince with a quick stab straight to the neck. The scene itself is rather plain compared to some of Ghostface’s more dramatic kills, but it’s elevated by the film’s use of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand.” The song has appeared several times in “Scream” movies past, and using it in this early kill scene sets exactly the right tone for a movie that’s funny, dark, and loyal to the original.
From the moment the new “Scream” opened, I was praying Mikey Madison’s Amber would be one of the killers. She is perhaps one of the less recognizable new cast members, but has effortlessly deployed dagger glares and demented decision-making skills before as a teenage daughter (a true horror!) on the series “Better Things.” Luckily, “Scream” finally lets Madison off the chain in the third act, and the result is one of the more compelling villain unmaskings in “Scream” history. She reveals that she got interested in the Woodsboro killers after moving into Stu’s house, then met Richie (Jack Quaid) on a message board for obsessive fans. Amber and her glittery Ghostface costume cause a whole lot of terror during the film’s climax before she’s finally left to confront Sidney (Neve Campbell) and Gale (Courtney) in the kitchen.
After some discussion about who deserves the killing blow, Gale shoots Amber twice. During a bloody confrontation seconds before, Amber demands the women give up their starring roles in the “movie” she and Richie are building, saying, “It’s time to pass the torch.” This line is instantly made ironic, as Amber falls straight back onto an active gas burner after being shot, and bursts into flames. Since this is a “Scream” movie, she pops up one more time, steaming and screaming as she bursts forth from the kitchen, before finally getting put down by a headshot.
This is one of two “Scream” kills (see also #4) that’s pretty conflicting. Certainly, we aren’t meant to buy Amber’s fake pleading assertions that she’s just an easily influenced young woman. Still, this kill is done by our heroes and it’s pretty merciless. Gale and Sidney don’t bat an eye at Amber’s flame-engulfed body and make a quip about the torch-passing comment as she cooks in front of them. This kill works well because Madison’s Amber is perfectly unhinged and her comeuppance was inevitable–plus it’s a perfect mirror of her role in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” But it’s also “Scream” entering new, murky territory in which its sadism bleeds from villains to heroes in an intriguing, unsettling way.
4 + 3. Wes And Judy
On the one hand, Wes and Deputy Judy’s (Marley Shelton) death scenes include some of the most egregious fakeouts of the whole “Scream” franchise — two different door shots with nothing but tense music to show for them, really? But, on the other, they’re a genuinely intense turning point for the film.
Wes is a bit of a safety freak thanks to his mom’s over-preparedness, but Ghostface sets his sights on him in the shower, when he’s most vulnerable. At the same time that he watches the peroxide-blonde teenager scrub up, he’s calling his mom, Judy, who just stepped out for sushi. Wes doesn’t meet his end in the shower, but Ghostface’s “Psycho” reference frames him as a male Hitchock blonde, which is a fun inversion.
We think Wes is about to be stabbed in the shower, but instead, it’s Judy who meets her end as she runs frantically back towards the house to save her son. Ghostface leaps out of his hiding place on the porch and stabs her right on the front lawn in broad daylight. Wes, unaware of all this, is opening fridges and closets inside just for the suspense of it all. He sets the dinner table for sushi, and his care for his mom comes through beautifully in the small details of the table setting. Unfortunately, they’ll never get that meal.
Ghostface meets him as he considers opening the front door, and knifes him brutally through the neck. This is our first glimpse at the outright ruthlessness of the latest “Scream”; Ghostface stands close to Wes, as if about to lean in for a kiss, savoring the second-by-second details of the kill. It’s a genuinely unnerving moment, one that hurts more than most in the film because Wes and his mom’s love for one another shines through so well in the scenes before it.
As one of the most likable characters of the film, Sam’s (Melissa Barrera) sweet, funny boyfriend is a perfectly surprising pick for the second “Scream” killer. When he finally reveals his motives, he coyly comments, “I know, it’s a bummer it’s me,” and he’s right. He was easy to love thanks to his status as a good-natured outsider learning the rules of the “Stab” movies for the first time.
Alas, Richie and Amber teamed up to “write” their own “Stab” movie, in an attempt to redo the lackluster sequel that offended them so deeply. This clever bit of writing at the film’s core is what lands Richie’s death so high on this list. It isn’t the moment he goes out that matters so much as everything that comes before. Richie’s rant about what fans are owed is a bold statement by “Scream” writers Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt that will no doubt piss off the real-life “toxic fandoms” he’s convinced don’t actually exist. I loved the new “Scream” for a lot of reasons, but its nervy willingness to cast demanding and dangerous fans directly in the villain role is what makes it one of my favorite “Scream” movies.
When Richie finally does die, it’s at Sam’s hands, in another moment that crosses a line “Scream” has never approached before. She tells him not to underestimate the daughter of a serial killer, and makes quick eye contact with a hallucination of her dad, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), before stabbing Sam many, many times. He’s still alive, choking up blood, and she finally ends him by slowly slitting his throat.
This moment is, um, a lot. I was certain it was setting up Sam going full villain and felt tense watching her speak calmly with Gale, Sidney, and Tara (Jenny Ortega) afterward. The film wrapped up before addressing the way her own actions mirror those of the original Ghostface, though, and ended up basically framing her as a final girl. Richie’s actual death leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it’s an interesting curveball to the franchise, and the reveals leading up to it are sheer brilliance. If it’s setting up another sequel where Sam turns dark-sided and Tara becomes the main final girl, hey, I’d be cool with that, too.
This one hurts.
“Scream” warns us early on that it’s a legacy sequel, which means no character is off-limits. The stakes are real and high, because if they weren’t, why would audiences care? Those words become a prophecy when Dewey (David Arquette) heads to the hospital with Sam and Richie to save Tara. Can I just say, the best scenes in “Scream” 2022 all involve Tara? As Sam’s strong-willed little sister, Jenny Ortega is phenomenal, displaying her own final girl stamina and delivering a fearful performance that’s contagious.
After narrowly avoiding her first run-in with Ghostface, Tara lies vulnerable in a hospital bed, “Halloween II” style. She gets nervous about the silence in the hall, so she moves into her wheelchair, an excruciating experience for her not-yet-healed body. As Tara wheels down the hall, the lights go out, and she soon finds the still-gargling body of a murdered officer who was supposed to be guarding her (RIP that guy, we didn’t know his name so he’s not on this list). Ghostface comes for her and follows her slowly, eerily down the hallway even as she falls from her chair and begins to crawl. It’s a sickening image, one of the most genuinely harrowing in the whole franchise.
Fortunately, the group arrives to save the day just in time. Unfortunately, Dewey is really attached to the rules of horror that have helped him survive so far. He shoots Ghostface two times, then puts everyone else on the elevator and decides to go back for a headshot. Dewey, man, you should’ve just stayed home. He takes aim at Ghostface but is almost imperceptibly distracted when his phone rings. It’s a tiny opening, but enough for Ghostface to stab him. Lest we think it’s just a flesh wound, the killer — who must be Amber, since Richie is in the elevator — inserts one knife from the front and one from the back, lifting them up to essentially gut him. This is brutal and made even worse by the fact that, of course, it’s Gale trying to call to check on him.
Of course, it’s not fun to watch this beloved character die, but the hospital sequence is one of the movie’s best, and it hits hard because it fulfills the film’s promise of real stakes. One of the most chilling Ghostface moments, which is also a hint at the type of killer they turn out to be this time around, comes when they watch the light drain from Dewey’s eyes and hisses, with genuine misplaced reverence, “It’s an honor.”
“Scream” 2022 is a brutal, indelible entry in a franchise that is always evolving with its audience — for proof, look no further than this scene.
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