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Review: Moviegoers ‘Scream’ again in theaters

“Scream” is the fifth installment of the horror franchise and is a direct sequel to “Scream 4” from 2011. Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell reprise their roles from previous installments in the movie franchise as a new Ghostface copycat killer targets teens.

A person wearing a Ghostface mask strikes a frightening pose
A person dons the Ghostface costume worn by the fictional serial killer in the "Scream" horror movie franchise.<br/>
Contributed / Zuzana Šubrtová via Unsplash.com

BAXTER – New blood is spilled in “Scream.” And judging from its success at the box office and the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter, it’s what horror fans have been dying to see.

The fourth sequel in the horror movie franchise that began with the slasher film in 1996 by the same name features the original stars from that Wes Craven motion picture reprising their roles.

The new release includes Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette,and Neve Campbell returning to the franchise to help a new brood of unsuspecting teens face a serial killer.

"Scream" movie poster
"Scream" is a new sequel in the Wes Craven horror film franchise that is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

A quarter of a century after a series of vicious murders rocked the sleepy town of Woodsboro, California, a copycat killer wearing the now iconic Ghostface mask kills to become infamous.

The original “Scream” by Craven was groundbreaking in 1996 for its postmodern sensibility and how it lampooned the horror genre while at the same time celebrating and elevating it.

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Like Craven’s feature film, the fifth installment includes characters aware of the conventions of slasher films, makes fun of them explicitly or in the form of parody but the victims keep piling up.

For example, the new movie begins with the Ghostface killer tormenting an unsuspecting young girl home alone by calling her and taunting her like the original did with actress Drew Barrymore.

In the new release, the teen discusses at first with the masked murderer over the phone popular horror movies before the call becomes frightening with threats of violence.

Before she knows it, the specter of death is at her doorstep — she’s literally at death’s door — as the Ghostface killer attempts to invade the personal safety and sanctity of her brightly-lit home.

Ghostface mask
Someone wearing a Ghostface costume from the "Scream" slasher film franchise adjusts his scary mask.
Contributed / Hello I'm Nik via Unsplash.com

The teen who a few minutes earlier cavalierly dismisses the anonymous calls in a semi-sarcastic, disillusioned, know-it-all-way then comes face-to-masked face with a killer.

The “never-go-alone-down-to-the-basement” is also a horror cliche or slasher film staple that is mocked in the new “Scream,” but because the teens know of it doesn’t mean it dissuades them.

The arrogance of youth is tempered by a few jaded peers who inhabit the small town with dark secrets — the smaller the town, the darker the secrets — but the body count keeps rising.

Previous installments in the film franchise centered around young Sidney Prescott and her near-fatal encounters with Ghostface who stalks his victims in a sadistic form of foreplay.

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Prescott, played by Campbell, was aided by Dewey Riley, a deputy sheriff, and tabloid reporter Gale Weathers, played by Arquette and Cox, respectively, who are ex-spouses in real life.

This time the Ghostface killer has set his sights on Sam Carpenter, the sister of the teen that was brutally attacked at the start of the new “Scream” but survives the encounter.

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Carpenter’s circle of friends includes many who have blood ties to those in the original “Scream” movie, so they become both targets and suspects in this new go-around of bloodlust.

The R-rated motion picture earns that rating with multiple up-close-and-personal slashings, and the new release is gorier than previous installments in the “Scream” franchise.

The new “Scream” is the first film in the movie series not to be directed by Craven but is dedicated to him. The pioneering director died of a brain tumor in 2015 at the age of 76.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

Craven was lauded for mixing humor and satire in his horror films and that legacy lives on in the new “Scream” even if many of its characters do not.

“Scream” currently holds a 77% approval rating among critics and an even better 83% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The RottenTomatoes.com critics consensus reads: “The fifth ‘Scream’ finds the franchise working harder than ever to maintain its meta edge — and succeeding surprisingly often.”

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FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum.

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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