Horror has been one of the more reliable subgenres during the pandemic, but the current Omicron wave has complicated the calculus. Still, wherever people wind up seeing this designed-to-please slasher movie — even if that’s minus a crowd — it should possess a healthy shelf life.
All that’s achieved, fairly impressively, while simultaneously lampooning the original, its three sequels and that 25-year relationship with the audience, but still treating it with a level of every-detail-counts earnestness generally reserved for movies with superheroes or spaceships. Plus, there are plenty of references to recent horror movies, their varying levels of ambition and where “Scream” fits in.
It spoils nothing to say the basic template remains intact, with an incident involving Ortega’s character bringing her older sister (Barrera) back to the town of Woodsboro, accompanied by her boyfriend (Quaid). An earlier killing spree there prompted a series of movies, meaning this Ghostface killer is tapping into that mythology, leaving no shortage of suspects or bodies.
The newbies get the bright idea of seeking out advice from old pros, which is where Arquette, Cox and Campbell come into the picture, however grudgingly.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett deliver the requisite gore by the bucket, never letting an open door — closet, refrigerator, you name it — go unexploited in terms of trying to milk a jump or scare out of it.
That might not rate high in the rules for surviving a pandemic, but it bodes pretty well for “Scream” proving successful enough to rise again, whether that’s a sequel, remake, reboot, or as in this case, essentially all of the above.
“Scream” premieres in US theaters on Jan. 14. It’s rated R.