Of course, “Scream” opens with a phone call—and, yes, it’s still a landline. Once again, a young woman home alone is forced to play movie trivia with a psychopath, but the manner in which this “Scream” will update the original is apparent early as Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) says her favorite horror flick isn’t a slasher classic but an “elevated horror” film like “The Babadook.” How we define the horror genre has changed significantly in the last 25 years, as has the relationship between filmmakers, viewers, and even “true story” subject matter that creators mine for escapist entertainment. The characters in the new “Scream” don’t just all have the same genre movie knowledge of the original’s Randy Meeks, they would destroy him in a trivia contest.

Tara is attacked by someone wearing the Ghostface outfit from the in-universe “Stab” franchise, based on the Westboro murders committed by Stu Macher and Billy Loomis, but she survives, bringing her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) back from Modesto to their hometown. Much like Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) from the original, Sam has some dark family drama that forced her to leave her sister behind, but it feels like this new killer attacked Tara to get the big sis to come home. She brings her new beau Richie (Jack Quaid of “The Boys”) along for the ride, even though he’s never seen a “Stab” movie. By the way, they’ve made eight “Stab” movies and the last one was particularly loathed by the fan base for reportedly betraying what worked about the franchise in the first place. Of course, Rian Johnson directed. 

Before Tara can even get out of the hospital, Ghostface is on a rampage, leading Sam and Richie to the man who they think can help them figure out who’s behind the mask this time: Deputy Dewey (a very effective David Arquette, given more dramatic beats than usual. I hope it leads to more work like it.) He calls Sid and texts Gale (Courteney Cox), and the world-famous trio is back in town before you know it, but directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett wisely don’t let them take over the narrative. They’re flavoring, a nod to the past instead of the whole meal like in some other re-quels. Think of them like the legacy characters in the Star Wars sequels—essential but not driving the story. 


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