Slasher rehash is less scary than Midtown


The fifth film “Scream” does not try to reinvent the scream.

Unlike rebooted “Halloween” and “Candyman”, which managed to push their franchises into the present with additional social commentary, the tired teen slasher flick is stuck in the past. And proud of it.

Although “Scream” is set in modern times, it’s a cinematic time machine to 2000. All the while, you feel surrounded by Beanie Babies while gorging yourself on Pizza Bagels and listening to the songs. Backstreet Boys.

Film critic

Duration: 116 minutes. Rated R (strong bloody violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.) In theaters Friday.

But should a serial killer bloodbath be so comfortable and nostalgic for an audience? Not if he wants to keep our interest. For two hours, Scream-o’s Cinco comes with routine killings and a few surprises, even when he tries to shock us lightly.

The heroine’s backstory is a moan. A development that should be devastating is completely still. And when you think you know who is behind the Ghostface mask, you are probably right.

Ah, oh, the meta jokes. They got out of hand in subsequent sequels, and Five drowns in them.

The big gag here, for example, is to poke fun at the recent rise in critically-acclaimed horror films (and, uh, better).

“What’s your favorite horror movie? Ghostface asks young Tara (Jenna Ortega) at first as she stands in her Woodboro kitchen, a la Drew Barrymore in the first chapter. But while Drew said, “I don’t know,” Tara, a movie buff, replies, “‘The Babadook.’ It is an incredible meditation on motherhood and bereavement.

Can Ghostface kill me too?

Ghostface is back in “Scream”.

After Tara is stabbed – not fatally – the self-referential bits arrive faster than they did in “3” and “4”. They laugh at “The Witch”, “Jurassic World”, “The Last Jedi”, the divorce of Jamie Lee Curtis, David Arquette and Courteney Cox and so on. Problem is, Parker Posey isn’t here to bring bland stuff out of the park.

The rest of the story follows the old worn-out model.

Tara’s older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) rushes to her side at the hospital and finds herself at the center of yet another wave of killings in Woodboro. We always ask the same questions: which friend will die next? Is this nice boy the killer? What was Courteney Cox’s last movie role ?!

Sam explains to her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) that a Ghostface impersonator tries to make a splash in town “every ten years or so. Last time was in 2011. See? It’s been 10 years since the third sequel Who invented these incredible zingers?

It would be writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, who put so much effort into humor, as it is, that they threw scare into a blender. I’m a wimp and I might as well have watched “The Great British Baking Show”.

Neve Campbell is reprising the role of Sidney Prescott.
Neve Campbell is reprising the role of Sidney Prescott.

The new cast fits in perfectly. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, succeeding the late Wes Craven, have poached a few popular young actors like Dylan Minnette (“13 Reasons Why”) and Mason Gooding (“Love, Victor”) perhaps in the hope of ‘attract their impressionable fans.

And Barrera, who was wonderful in “In The Heights”, has a serious intensity that will give her a long career. It’s fun to see her kick ass with Neve Campbell, Cox and Arquette, whose chemistry is a certainty at this point.

Yet even though “Scream” refers to aughts movies and celebrates the slasher genre, it forgets the most important part – the original was actually scary.


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