It’s been nearly 11 years since we were last served a bloody scoop of Scream! Our last visit to the small but deadly town of Woodsboro, California, was in 2011’s cult classic, Scream 4, where director Wes Craven lead his final Ghostface feature before passing away in 2015.
Seven years later, a present-day theatrical release marks the fifth installment of the Scream franchise, but it was almost never even made! After Scream 4 underperformed at the box office, it appeared (at the time) that any future Scream films were shelved indefinitely. Over the past decade, Scream 4 has attracted a large cult following, and fans have been petitioning to bring back some of the film’s characters, mainly Hayden Panetierre‘s Kirby, who may or may not have survived the wrath of Ghostface.
The writer of the first four films (and 27 episodes of Scream: The TV Series), Kevin Williamson – who also produced Scream (2022) – revealed during an interview with Bloody Disgusting that the original plans for the fifth and even sixth Scream movies saw the unexpected return of Scream 4‘s Jill (Emma Roberts). Those sequels unfortunately never came into fruition, but it’s captivating to know what direction the films would have taken if Scream 4 had just performed better.
“Jill went to college, and then murders started on the campus,” Williamson shared, “and it was a killer who knew she was the killer from the last film. So the killer kept trying to expose her, so she would have to kill to keep it covered up. So it was killer meets killer. And Sidney was a professor at that school. ‘Scream 6′ was gonna answer whatever happened between Dewey and Gale … Sidney was in it, but it was more focused on Gale’s storyline.”
Naturally, without any hope for another sequel, it came as a big surprise when news of an all-new flavour of Scream broke! A Scream universe smoothie, if you will, acting as both a reboot and a sequel, penned by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man) and Guy Busick (Ready or Not, Castle Rock), and for the first time ever, directed by someone other than Craven.
Was #Scream5 (as the internet calls it) even a good idea? Directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (of Ready Or Not acclaim) sure thought so. The pair say they started their career in horror because of Craven’s films and were genuinely able to communicate their good intentions with this film to the original cast, Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox, who in turn all agreed to return to Woodsboro for yet another bloodbath!
The new directors of the franchise, Matt and Tyler, made it clear, they wanted to make a new Scream movie in honour of the late Wes Craven, not in spite of him: “They came to me with ‘Scream 5,’ and these directors are incredibly talented,” Neve Campbell said in a 2020 interview on Jake Hamilton‘s YouTube show, Jake’s Takes. “They wrote a letter honouring Wes [Craven] in such a beautiful way, and they expressed that the reason they make horror movies is because of Wes and the Scream films. They also expressed how blown away they are at the idea of actually getting an opportunity to make one of them and how much they want to honour and respect Wes’ vision. It was just beautiful, and I was really grateful.”
The ongoing global pandemic had other plans for Scream (2022), however, as rising Omicron cases threatened its January 14, 2022, release date. So while the entire movie was filmed during the pandemic, zoned safety protocols and city or even province/state-wide lockdowns remain a very real part of today’s social climate. Yes, they may feel as pesky as online spoilers, but they’re hardly as avoidable.
Cue another temporary lockdown in Ontario… The goal? To slow down the spread of the highest number of Covid cases the province has ever seen. The forecast in Ontario quickly turned cold and barren with a chance of Omicron.
With restaurants, bars, casinos, amphitheatres and cinemas all closed until further notice, and a very real risk of getting sick in public hanging over everyone’s heads, Scream fans in a locked-down Ontario were left to figure out just how to revisit Woodsboro with the rest of the world without any indication of a digital day-and-date release from Cineplex or Paramount Pictures.
Limited, physically-distanced seating (50% capacity) and extra funding for cleaning the cinemas in-between showtimes would have sufficed, but the incapability of the current Ontario government is another horror story of its own.
Scream (2022), on the other hand, erupted onto social media timelines on all platforms with an impressive promotional campaign chock-full of teasers, interviews, private blood-red carpet premieres and flashy posters/trailers. Paramount Pictures simply ignored any and all pleas for a digital-day-and-date release and instead charged full-steam ahead, releasing Scream (2022) in theatres only – meaning zero showtimes for the locked-down provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Sorry, Sidneys.
Toronto is known for being the largest movie-going market in Canada, but not playing in Neve Campbell’s home country didn’t stop Scream (2022) from making $48 million worldwide; debuting on Rotten Tomatoes with a 76% critics score and 89% audience score; nabbing the number one spot at the global and domestic box offices; or besting Marvel/Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (which has already made over $1 billion globally).
So how can people in Ontario see this record-breaking, theatres-only spectacle of a horror film during a province-wide lockdown? With zero screenings or showtimes available, I found myself thinking… What Would Gale Weathers Do?
Having to provide a mandatory $225 USD PCR test at the Canada-USA border, a road trip to Detroit, MI, or Buffalo, NY, was simply out of the question. And being the dead of January, drive-in movie theatres across Ontario (although allotted by the provincial government to operate during lockdowns) are temporarily closed for the winter season. All except one, that is.
A close friend sent me a link to an Instagram account for 1000 Islands Drive-In located in Gananoque, ON. Not only is this particular drive-in open for the winter season, but it’s also the only big screen in the entire province of Ontario playing Scream (2022)!
Sitting just south of Highway 401 and west of the Gananoque River, 1000 Islands Drive-In spans across a large parking lot attached to the Silver Cinema theatre (approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes from downtown Toronto). You do of course need a car to attend a screening, but it’s well worth the trip should you feel like carpooling with friends. I mean, what else is there to do?
The rest of Canada and the world are already enjoying Scream (2022), so if you’re reading this in Southern Ontario and just dying to know what happens in #Scream5, grab your best Sidneys and head on out to Gananoque! *[More info at the end of the article]
As for the movie itself, it was a literal SCREAM! And I’m not just saying that to exercise my love of puns. The synopsis is as follows: “Set twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past!”
I can confidently say this film is packed with edge-of-your-seat thrills, nail-biting suspense, metaverse Easter Eggs, polarizing surprises, and a nostalgic soundtrack mixed with new and familiar Scream tunes alike, although if they were going to use a SZA song in a Scream movie, “Drew Barrymore” would have been perfect.
This new script is impressive, as well. It’s more ruthless and in-your-face than any of the Scream sequels before it, and just as self-aware! I particularly appreciated the sharp-tongued commentary on “elevated horror,” toxic fandoms, and the importance of connectivity between new and original characters.
Speaking of new characters, the new cast does a great job forming a contemporary Woodsboro crew, and while I did find myself missing the vibe of the cast of Scream 4, the fresh faces of Scream (2022) bring their A-game. Jasmin Savoy Brown (Yellowjackets) is captivating as Mindy Meeks-Martin, the first openly gay character of any of the Scream movies. She’s the niece of Randy Meeks (a franchise favourite from the ’96 original played by Jamie Kennedy) who’s known for breaking down the earliest rules of surviving a horror movie.
The inclusion of an openly gay character is something that’s been long overdue in the Scream franchise. Not only for its large queer following, but the original screenwriter, Kevin Williamson, is openly gay himself.
“As a gay kid, I related to the final girl and to her struggle, because it’s what one has to do to survive as a young gay kid, too,” Williamson told Independent in a Dec. 2021 interview. “You’re watching this girl survive the night and survive the trauma she’s enduring. Subconsciously, I think the Scream movies are coded in gay survival.”
Even the casting is queer-coded! When asked about community icons like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Laurie Metcalf (Scream 2), Parkey Posey and Carrie Fisher (Scream 3) and Emma Roberts (Scream 4) all making big splashes in the franchise, Williamson jokes, “It just happened! It’s a gay universe, I guess.”
Back to the new cast of Scream (2022): Mindy’s twin brother, Chad Meeks-Martin, played by Mason Gooding (Love, Victor), has some great one-liners and surprising character development, while other newcomers to the franchise, including the son of Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton, Scream 4); Wes Hicks (Dylan Minette, 13 Reasons Why), Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood), Liv McKenzie (Sonia Ammar, Chanel model), Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega, X), her sister Sam (Samantha) Carpenter (Melissa Barrera, In The Heights), Sam’s boyfriend Richie Kirsch (Zack Quaid, The Boys), and Woodsboro bad boy Vince Schneider (Kyle Gallner, American Sniper), do everything they can to help make this suspenseful thriller jump off the screen. The killer may be on this poster but I was left guessing until the final act!
After watching Scream (2022), I immediately wanted to rewatch it. There’s a lot to unpack. Most of which I loved, but I will say I wish Sidney Prescott, Dewey Riley and Gale Weathers had some more involvement throughout the 1h 54 min running time. It’s completely understandable if not expected to have a new group of young adults as the focal point of the story – many franchises have and continue to do the exact same – but when you have all three legacy actors standing right there on set, ready and willing to take this reboot where the directors and writers were willing to go, why not utilize them to their full potential? It would have further congealed the otherwise very successful fan service this film boasts, but that’s not to say we won’t ever see them in Woodsboro again…
Neve Campbell recently told ScreenRant, “It would seem there are always more stories to be told in Woodsboro and there is a taste for it. So, I think, if people love this one [Scream 5], I would imagine there will be an appetite and we, of course, would all love to be a part of it [Scream 6].
Whatever the future holds for the Scream franchise, this current installment is a gory good time! It successfully pays homage to all four of the films that came before it while impressively remaining conscious of where a Scream film fits into the current state of the horror genre. With the usual sharp-tongued suspects, strikingly familiar sets and gritty storylines, Scream (2022) brings plenty of laughs, jumps and plot twists to quench your thirst. The true test will be if a potentially valuable opportunity for #Scream6 manifests after this film’s success. Here’s hoping, because as much as things have changed since Ghostface’s awakening 25 years ago, their status as a generational horror movie icon is as impactful as ever. MOJO RATED 8.5/10
What’s your favourite scary movie?
Scream (2022) is now playing “in theatres where permitted.”
*1000’s Islands Drive-In Do’s & Don’ts:
Do: Make a day trip out of it. Plan accordingly, make pit stops, bring blankets, and support the drive-in further by purchasing some well-priced snacks from the concession stand like popcorn, hot dogs and pogos, cake fries and more!
Don’t: Be that vehicle with your headlights on! As the Drive-In staff mention before the film starts rolling, it’s perfectly fine to start your car during the film for heat, but if your car’s headlights automatically turn on, simply ask and an employee will provide you with headlight covers.
Do: Arrive early! While every spot is decent, if you want the very front two rows, it’s suggested you arrive at least half an hour before showtime.
Don’t: Forget your mask! While you do not need a mask to watch the movie in your vehicle, you will still need a mask to enter the concession building and use the washroom.