Yet another Ghostface Killer(s) is stalking the teens of Woodsboro and everyone is once again a suspect.
Some spoiler free analysis before jumping into spoilers: fear not Scream fanatics. This is another solid sequel on par with the others, and it does the franchise justice. Between this and Scream 4, I would sort of love it if the Scream movies produced a sequel every 10 years to comment on the state of the genre.
This movie is a tad more serious than the others, but still feels like it is part of the Scream universe. If you enjoyed Ready or Not, rest assured Scream is in good hands with Radio Silence. It is a hard tightrope to walk to honor the original movie, generate suspense, and wrung a multitude of emotions out of an audience that has already seen this 4 times, but they did it.
That’s really all I have to say about my initial impressions before just launching into spoilers, so be forewarned before proceeding if you have not seen the movie yet.
Since this is going to be excited word salad anyway, here’s a random spoiler-filled list of 10 things I enjoyed about this movie:
There is no rhyme or reason to the order of this list – it is literally what popped into my head first. So maybe my subconscious is responsible for the order? Whatever here’s the list:
10. Commentary on the state of the genre/fandom
Maybe this is because I rewatched Scream 4 again yesterday, but I LOVED the commentary on elevated horror/requels and fandom in this movie. It was a perfect 11 years later from the torture porn/remake commentary in the fourth movie. I guffawed and laughed out loud more than a few times, one of which was Richie shouting “how can FANDOM BE TOXIC?!” during the obligatory unhinged killer monologue at the end. Surprisingly despite the multiple layers of meta commentary throughout the franchise, this is the first time I felt like the characters were talking about me as a Scream fan excited to see this movie. And it doesn’t come across as mean-spirited or over the top either – just a “we know who is watching this movie.”
As I’ve recounted countless times, my first experience with Scream was my sister bringing me to see it in theaters when I was eight, and being too terrified to make it past the opening scene. It wouldn’t be till Scream 4 I would see another Scream in theaters, and I teared up when the movie FINALLY got to its actual title card. Still, Scream 4 is something that initially just felt okay to me, and has grown on me immensely over time. This new movie (which I’m just going to refer to as Scream 5 because f these marketers for doing this when it is clearly Scream 5), had me wanting to be that weirdo that claps awkwardly at the end of a matinee.
9. Raising the stakes by killing a legacy character while properly acknowledging the gravitas of this moment/choice
I suspected that Dewey would die in this one, and between him, Sidney, and Gale I knew he would be the least heartbreaking, but this movie really hammed up how endearing Dewey is. I teared up a bit during the inevitable moment Gale realizes what happened, and his death was done with proper reverence for killing a core character. As many commentators have already said in the past, the Scream movies are the only slasher franchise that focuses on the protagonists. Sidney, Gale, and Dewey are the stars of these movies, and it is a big deal for one of them to die. At the same time, I’m relieved Radio Silence did it since the stakes needed to be properly raised after four of these movies.
8. Logical response to realizing you are in a whodunit
I love the constant accusations (whether sarcastic, sort of sincere, and flat out J’accuse! levels) of who the killer is. It stands to reason the characters would be super paranoid to realize they are essentially in a Stab movie at this point. They may sometimes make odd choices immediately after accusing someone of murder like continuing to hangout with them, but it was fun to see.
7. Two for two with the killers
It probably added to my wife and I did correctly guess who the killers were pretty early on. She called Amber thanks to Amber’s throwaway line about “how Tara fought back” (because how would she have known that?) and I called Richie because…always suspect the love interest and it seemed so peculiar to keep playing up how he didn’t know anything about Woodsboro or the Stab movies. I actually thought he’d mention being a true crime fanatic that had no interest in fictionalized versions of real stories as part of his killer monologue.
I realize their motives are silly…but I feel like all the motives in these movies are silly so it isn’t really worse to me than “mother of original killer teams up with serial killer obsessed cinema student” or “long lost half-brother of protagonist wants revenge.” I liked the throwaway line about getting radicalized on message boards, and if anything though this movie could play up online anonymity and polarization a bit more. Perhaps that will be crammed into the inevitable sequel given the financial success of this one.
6. The opening scene
The opening of Scream is iconic, and all the sequels chase that high in their own ways. This in true “requel” fashion tries to boil its opening scene down to the same pattern as the first: a lone teenage girl in an isolated house keeps getting calls from a sinister stranger, and it is solidly effective. It immediately starts the movie on the right foot.
I know this is minor, but I loved Tara. There was something so endearing about watching this tiny girl get the sh*t beaten out of her SO many times and still continuing to fight back. Although I’ve never felt a maternal instinct, I wanted to protect Tara at all cost and I was glad to see her make it to the end. Also props to her for thinking to try and grab the dead cop’s gun when she realized the killer was after her again.
(Sidenote: Where was literally everyone else at that hospital? This was made all the more ridiculous when the next scene is the characters in a lit, normally operating hospital. I have to believe Tara was in some kind of tiny rehabilitation center because otherwise seriously where was everybody else?!)
4. Dewey’s perfectly delivered “Maybe you’re the killer…because that cut deep.”
3. Seeing Sidney & Gail happy and thriving
It was a real “Women Postings Their W’s” vibe to know Sidney was living her best life with her family and Gail was anchoring her own morning show. I also love that we learn Sidney is married, but her husband is only mentioned in passing so it doesn’t center her happiness or story on being a wife and mom – it’s more of a glimpse into a happy ending for a women who really, really deserves it.
2. Some of those kills are gnarly
That face stab was memorable, and the brutality of the stabs really helped drive home how serious the movie took its kills. I also LOVED Sam stabbing Richie a bajillion times to both drive home the serial killer’s daughter angle and because it makes sense to ensure the damn killer is dead.
1. I love pretentious camera work
I loved the dolly zoom in the opening and the decanted angle pulling out of the front doorway when we realize the characters are in the house from the original film. I love heavily stylized movies and could have ate up more moments likes that, but I appreciate that they were subdued and used those moments to really drive home the intensity of those scenes.
It seems like people generally like this one, so it is nice to see a less-polarizing slasher sequel after the house divided that was Halloween Kills, and it was a lovely note to start the new year on.
Now back to watching the Jaws movies…