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)

Skyscraper Movie Review

Rawson Marshall Thurber takes a break from directing comedies and Dwayne Johnson is on a hiatus from pairing with jungle animals in Skyscraper. Drawing clear inspiration from The Towering Inferno and Die Hard, the action thriller casts Johnson as Sawyer, an ex FBI agent who lost a leg in a hostage situation gone wrong. It didn’t all turn out badly though because he ends up marrying his surgeon (Neve Campbell) and they have two cute kids. Sawyer now works as a safety analyst for giant buildings and the biggest one has just been erected in Hong Kong by a billionaire entrepreneur (Chin Han). An occupational hazard develops when some terrorists led by Roland Møller set The Pearl (what the 200 plus story structure is named) on fire. Sawyer must then save his family from the burning. If you think one of his kids is asthmatic and the screenplay uses that overused cliché, you sure are right!

For a filmmaker who’s done Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re the Millers, and Central Intelligence (with Johnson), Thurber keeps this a mostly humor free experience – save for our protagonist’s affinity for duct tape. While I’ve already mentioned its most obvious influences, the climax pays homage to The Man with the Golden Gun, of all Bond pics. That one is on the lower end of 007 efforts and so is this as far as Johnson’s action output.

Skyscraper never bothers to develop worthwhile villains and that’s something Die Hard sure had. The Towering Inferno had cutting edge effects at its time. Not here. And, um, the aforementioned Bond movie had a main bad guy with a third nipple. So that’s something.

Johnson manages to exude some charm, but it can only go so far with this ultimate nondescript affair. I could say something obvious like “Skyscraper didn’t floor me”, but that would be as lame as putting in a kid with asthma.

** (out of four)

Skyscraper Box Office Prediction

Dwayne Johnson has built quite a box office list of hits over the past few months with titles like The Fate of the Furious, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Rampage. As for Baywatch… well, nobody’s perfect. Next weekend sees the release of Skyscraper, an action film which appears to be heavily influenced by The Towering Inferno and Die Hard. The pic is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber who’s best known for comedies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re the Millers, and Central Intelligence (his 2016 blockbuster collaboration with Johnson). Costars include Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Pablo Schreiber, and Noah Taylor.

Johnson’s last two efforts (Jungle and Rampage) both opened in the mid 30s. However, that’s a little misleading with Jumanji as it opened in a massively crowded Christmas frame and legged out to a gross of over $400 million. Rampage, on the other hand, sits at $98 million total. Central Intelligence, by the way, also premiered in the range at $35 million.

I don’t see any compelling reason why Skyscraper would debut over those titles. And I also don’t see much reason why it would open too far under them. The PG-13 rating should help bring in teens, though the second weekend of AntMan and the Wasp does present direct competition. I’ll project Skyscraper for a low to mid 30s start, right on pace with its lead’s other rock solid roll outs.

Skyscraper opening weekend prediction: $33.2 million

For my Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/03/hotel-transylvania-3-summer-vacation-box-office-prediction/