Scream (2022) Review

Landline phones are looked upon by the new kids of Scream like they’re phonographs, but some things never change with this fourth sequel to the 1996 original. Unlike other horror franchises, I would say there hasn’t been a bad Scream follow-up nor has one come close to approaching the quality of the first. My reception for parts II-IV are fairly similar – passably entertaining and ultimately forgettable. Part V – call it Scream if you want but it’s Scream 5 – is no different and a tad more underwhelming since its new characters add little.

When the ’96 version of Scream came out, Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson deftly satirized the slasher genre while also making a scary movie. It’s why Scary Movie four years later didn’t work for me – it was trying to parody something that had already cleverly done it. The rest of the Scream efforts have struggled with the mix as it continually invents new family connections to reveal new Ghostface killers.

In this Scream, Sam (Melissa Barrera) fled the town of Woodsboro five years ago. She makes a hasty return when her high school age sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by the now iconic villain. With Sam’s boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) and Tara’s student clique as potential suspects, we soon see familiar faces besides Ghostface. Dewey (David Arquette) is divorced from Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and no longer the sheriff in town. He reluctantly accepts Sam’s offer to get involved. Sidney (Neve Campbell) has no desire for a hometown return but we know that won’t last.

Sam’s genealogy allows for some slightly more surprising cameos as we try to deduce who the killer(s) are this time around. Some of Tara’s schoolmates fill the Scream bingo card. There’s the Jock, the Movie Buff, and the Virgin. Some of the roles are given a modern update (one of the guys is given the potentially fatal shower scene).

Of course, these characters talk endlessly about sequels and reboots and “requels”. This was a pretty fresh concept a quarter century ago (even if Craven had mined similar territory in New Nightmare). Now there’s precious little more meta to mine. Like the sequels, there’s also the fact that this Scream just isn’t a very scary movie.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett take over the reigns as Craven passed in 2015. They clearly have reverence for the series and especially part one. That’s understandable. So did the other ones. Some of them landed their plot points with more precision (Scream 4 managed to have a decent killer reveal and fun third act). All of them were duller cuts and this one strains to properly explain its reason for being despite endless attempts.

** (out of four)

Scream Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (01/13): On the eve of its premiere, I am upping the 4-day tally for Scream from $29.4 million to $36.4M

The fifth installment of the Scream franchise slashes its way into theaters on January 14th, hoping to bring in a sizable horror fan base. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, makers of V/H/S and Ready or Not, direct as they take reigns of the series from scare master Wes Craven (who helmed the first four and passed away in 2015). Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Marley Shelton, and Roger L. Jackson (as the iconic voice of Ghostface) reprise roles from previous entries. Newcomers include Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, and Jack Quaid.

Nearly a quarter century ago, the low-budget original became a cultural phenomenon and revitalized the genre. Two sequels followed in quick succession in 1997 and 2000 while part 4 hit in 2011. It was a commercial disappointment – taking in only $38 million at the domestic box office (with a $19 million start).

Paramount and Dimension Films are hoping that nostalgia will bring audiences back to the fold. Fright fests, more than any other type of pic in 2021, proved immune to challenges faced in the COVID era in terms of solid openings. The third Conjuring and Candyman each premiered in the low to mid 20s range. Scream will have an extra day of earnings when factoring in the long MLK frame.

January is very desolate in terms of high profile debuts and Scream is by far the biggest one. It marks a major test for theaters as the Omicron variant sweeps across the country. If this fails to perform, don’t be surprised to see delays for upcoming releases. Even with that potential barrier and the underperformance of its predecessor, I envision this managing a mid to possibly late 20s haul when including Monday.

Scream opening weekend prediction: $36.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

2021 Golden Globe Predictions

Let’s begin with this blanket statement… I’m basically flying a bit blind with my predictions for the Golden Globe Awards, which will be revealed tomorrow morning. For those who don’t follow the awards derbies closely like I do, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been in some considerable hot water for the last couple of years. So much so that NBC has decided they won’t air the January 9th ceremony due to lack of diversity for its voting membership. There were genuine questions as to whether the HFPA would even hold an event for their 79th awards, but they are pushing forward amidst the controversy.

Then there’s the simply the matter of the Globes being quite unpredictable. We tend to see a shocker nomination at least once a year… remember Kate Hudson’s nod in Actress (Musical/Comedy) for the barely seen and critically reviled Sia directed Music in 2020? Then the voters went ahead and nominated the picture itself!

Last year in Supporting Actress, Jodie Foster scored a surprise nomination and win for The Mauritanian. The Academy didn’t even bother to nominate her. In Supporting Actor, both Jared Leto (The Little Things) and Bill Murray (On the Rocks) made the cut in Supporting Actor though not at the Oscars. This is why my general rule at the Globes is to fill in bigger names when I’ve got a spot or two left over in an acting race.

The HFPA’s method of dividing Drama and Musical/Comedy always creates category questions and that holds true in 2021. Where’s CODA? Or House of Gucci and C’Mon C’Mon? Or Being the Ricardos. We don’t know. For prediction purposes, I’m putting them in Drama. Obviously, if they’re not, that would alter my estimates and make some of my calls moot.

Let’s take go through the categories one by one and see how this guesswork turns out, shall we? I’ll do a runner-up and second alternate for each race as well.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

King Richard

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: CODA

Second Alternate: The Tragedy of Macbeth

Commentary – At this point, Belfast, Dune, King Richard, and Power of the Dog seem like pretty safe bets. Any one of them missing out would be considered a significant snub. The fifth slot is wide open in my view. The surging CODA (if it’s placed in Drama) could certainly make the cut. Tragedy is a strong possibility and I wouldn’t count out Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon and House of Gucci (if they’re in Drama), The Last Duel, or Spencer. Despite some critical reservations, I’ll go with Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. It’s important to remember that foreign films are relegated to their own category at the Globes. That’s why Parasite didn’t show up here two years ago and it’s why A Hero or Drive My Car won’t contend in this competition.

Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy

Predicted Nominees:

Cyrano

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

Tick Tick… Boom!

West Side Story

Runner-Up: In the Heights

Second Alternate: Cruella

Commentary – The Musical/Comedy derby actually has a bunch of musicals to choose from in 2021 and West Side Story and Tick Tick… Boom! especially seem like surefire additions. Between In the Heights and Cyrano, I’m giving the latter a slight edge (though both could make it). Licorice Pizza should get in though I’m a tad more unsure about Don’t Look Up. I would generally say the top six listed here will be duking it out for five slots (Cruella is kind of a throwaway addition but if Music could get in…)

**Note that pics like CODA, Gucci, or Being the Ricardos could be campaigned for here and not Drama and that could change the dynamic.

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Commentary – Feeling good about Branagh, Campion, Spielberg, and Villeneuve. The 5 spot is tougher but I’ll give del Toro the nod over Anderson (who, somehow, has never been nominated for a Globe).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Second Alternate: Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

Commentary – So here’s when it gets truly complicated as Gaga, Hudson, and Kidman could all theoretically wind up in Musical/Comedy. If not, both Gaga and Kidman seem like likely nominees in Drama. So do Chastain and Stewart. I’m picking Hudson over considerable competition that includes Colman, Comer, Emilia Jones in CODA (if placed here), Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth), and Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Second Alternate: Nicolas Cage, Pig

Commentary – Cumberbatch, Smith, and Washington are obvious choices. The other two slots – not so much. Phoenix could be in Musical/Comedy, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and put him here. Same with runner-up Bardem. As much as I’d like to anoint Cage for Pig, I’ll hedge with Cooper in Alley. Super dark horse choice: Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey. 

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Haley Bennett, Cyrano

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Emma Stone, Cruella

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Melissa Barrera, In the Heights

Second Alternate: Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Once again – there’s some women I have in Drama that might shift over this way (Gaga, Hudson, Kidman, Jones). That would make this category more interesting as, right now, this is Zegler’s to lose based on my current composition. If serious hopefuls like Gaga and Kidman stay in Drama, this race could be ripe for an out of nowhere pick (I’m thinking either Annie Mumolo or Kristin Wiig in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

Anthony Ramos, In the Heights

Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy

Runner-Up: Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Commentary – The first four seem probable and the safer choice for #5 would be Hoffman (that’s if Joaquin Phoenix or Javier Bardem don’t play here). I gotta pick at least one head scratcher though so let’s throw in Reynolds for the hit Free Guy!

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Supporting Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

Runner-Up: Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Second Alternate: Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Commentary – Balfe, DeBose, Dunst, and Ellis are likely. If any of that quartet miss, it could be Dunst. I’m utilizing my aforementioned big name theory by picking Streep in the five spot. Could be Moreno or Blanchett and the star power could overshadow other possibilities like Ruth Negga (Passing) or Ann Dowd (Mass).

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Supporting Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Mike Faist, West Side Story

Second Alternate: Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Commentary – No one can really make heads or tails of Supporting Actor in 2021 so there’s some winging it happening. I’ll say both Belfast boys get in while HFPA recognizes Cooper’s limited screen time in Pizza and Leto’s out there performance in Gucci. Smit-McPhee has been picking up critics awards and that could get him in. Truth be told… anything could happen in this one.

Best Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Runner-Up: King Richard

Second Alternate: Being the Ricardos

The one I’m uncertain about is Don’t Look Up with its many lackluster reviews, but I’ll go for it over Richard. I also wouldn’t completely dismiss Ricardos due to the Aaron Sorkin factor.

Best Animated Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Vivo

Runner-Up: Raya and the Last Dragon

Second Alternate: Belle

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

A Hero

Titane

The Worst Person in the World

Runner-Up: Parallel Mothers

Second Alternate: The Hand of God

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: The French Dispatch

Second Alternate: Don’t Look Up

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“Every Letter” from Cyrano

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Runner-Up: “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Second Alternate: “So May We Start” from Annette

My picks equate to the following scorecard in terms of total nominations:

7 Nominations

Belfast, The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

Don’t Look Up

5 Nominations

West Side Story

4 Nominations

Cyrano, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley

3 Nominations

Dune

2 Nominations

Flee, House of Gucci, Spencer, Tick Tick… Boom!, The Tragedy of Macbeth

1 Nomination

Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Drive My Car, Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Free Guy, A Hero, In the Heights, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, No Time to Die, Respect, Titane, Vivo, The Worst Person in the World

I’ll have a post up later tomorrow with my results! Critics Choice predictions are next…

In the Heights Box Office Prediction

With a rousing 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the musical In the Heights reaches theaters and HBO Max on June 11 and expectations have risen. After being pushed back nearly a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jon M. Chu directs a large cast including Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smith. It is based on the stage production created by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also appears).

Critics have taken to the adaptation with many claiming it is the feel good picture of the season. Miranda’s name associated with anything is a bonus. A female and Latino audience could turn out in large numbers. Heights is also 2021’s first release that could be a major Oscar contender in multiple categories, including Best Picture. The fact that HBO Max subscribers may opt for home viewing is always a factor, but the streaming arrangement with Warner Bros has already produced satisfying theatrical starts for other titles.

Three years ago, Chu had an unexpected summer smash with Crazy Rich Asians. It opened to $26.5 million and legged out tremendously to a $174 million domestic haul. I could easily see his follow-up earning about the same for its premiere weekend, but I’ll put it just a tad under.

In the Heights opening weekend prediction: $26.8 million

For my Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/05/peter-rabbit-2-the-runaway-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: In the Heights

Jon M. Chu’s musical drama In the Heights was originally slated to hit theaters last June, but the COVID-19 pandemic altered the plan. Based on the stage musical created by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film now dances into multiplexes and HBO Max on June 11. The review embargo lifted today and it appears we have a legitimate Best Picture hopeful before us.

The Rotten Tomatoes meter sits at 97% with many critics imploring audiences to see it on the biggest screen possible. Many reviewers also note that it’s the perfect tonic after a rough year. Heights has a sprawling cast and that ensemble stands a terrific shot at SAG recognition next year. It could perform very well in the Musical/Comedy categories at the Golden Globes… if there is a ceremony next year (and that’s a big if right now).

As for the Oscars, many possibilities exist. Director Chu’s previous effort was the smash hit Crazy Rich Asians, but it was completely ignored by the Academy. That’s unlikely to happen here. Best Original Song (with Miranda proving some new material) and Sound could certainly be in play.

When it comes to the big competitions, the feel good nature of Heights could absolutely lift it to a Best Picture nomination. It might be a bit more of a reach for Chu to make the final five in directing, but it’s at least feasible. Two cast members receiving immediate kudos are Anthony Ramos (in what could be quite a crowded Best Actor derby) and Olga Merediz in Supporting Actress.

Bottom line: expect this anticipated summer hit musical to be on the minds of voters in the forthcoming awards season. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…