Scream reviews: What are the critics saying about latest incarnation of horror classic

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Pierra WillixThe West Australian
Neve Campbell (“Sidney Prescott”), left, and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream." BROWNIE HARRIS
Camera IconNeve Campbell (“Sidney Prescott”), left, and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream." BROWNIE HARRIS Credit: BROWNIE HARRIS

It’s the movie that rewrote the rules of the slasher genre but as Scream returns to screens, are fans in for a bloody good time or has the franchise finally run its course?

The latest instalment of the cult 1996 film – simply titled Scream – follows a new group of friends in the fictional Californian town of Woodsboro who are being stalked by the now-iconic serial killer Ghostface.

The fresh-faced cast includes Melissa Barrera (In the Heights), Dylan Minette (13 Reasons Why), Mason Gooding (the son of Cuba Gooding Jnr) and Jack Quaid, whose parents are Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan.

David Arquette (“Dewey Riley”), left, and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream."
Camera IconDavid Arquette (“Dewey Riley”), left, and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream." Credit: BROWNIE HARRIS

Original characters Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) are also back on board.

It’s the fifth film in the series and the first not directed by Wes Craven, who died in 2015. It is billed as a “requel” for the fact it is not a reboot or a sequel, rather a continuation of the previous film, which was released a decade ago.

While the previous sequels’ recycled storylines have been embraced by critics and fans, with early reviews trickling in it seems critics from some of the world’s most respected publications have not taken to the new direction of the franchise.

“The film looks pallid and cheap, with pretty much zero nod to the style and panache of Wes Craven’s original,” Vanity Fair reviewer Richard Lawson wrote. “Whatever it is, it’s not much of a movie”.

The New York Times added that it was a movie with a “resting smug face, so enamoured of its own mythology that its characters speak of little else”.

Jenna Ortega (“Tara”) stars in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream."
Camera IconJenna Ortega (“Tara”) stars in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream." Credit: BROWNIE HARRIS

Entertainment Weekly even declared “you’re not going to be scared by it”, while The Hollywood Reporter noted it was “too bad that crew of fresh faces leaves so little impression”.

Craven’s legacy also looms large over the new film.

The director was responsible for cult classics such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, and with Scream famously relaunched the modern-day slasher genre, not only combining satire with scares but also upending classic horror tropes while paying homage to iconic flicks such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and Psycho.

It is considered one of the most successful and influential horror franchises of all time, taking in more than US$608 million and helping redefine the genre – paving the way for everything from the critically acclaimed Get Out to the long-running Scary Movie spoof films.

However Entertainment Weekly noted the latest film “doesn’t build its sequences with the same meat-and-potatoes solidity as Craven did”.

While many review sites pulled apart the film, others like Empire said there were “still fun new twists to mine”, while Time Out said it was “inventive, incisive and full of affection for the originals”.

The Hollywood Reporter did continue on to say that it was “quite possible that some long-time fans will eagerly consume this playful new serving of constant carnage and mayhem”.

The Guardian added that “it’s still capable of delivering some piercing high-pitched decibels”.

Scream is in cinemas now.

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