‘Scream’ 2022 Is Frightfully Funny

Garrett Hartman


Horror films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, the monsters, murderers, and miscreants who star in them are ingrained in pop culture. You needn’t have seen any of the Halloween, or Friday the 13th films to recognize their antagonists' distinctive masks. 


The same can be said of Scream’s “Ghostface” mask. I had never seen a Scream film upon walking into the recent soft-reboot of the series.


Equipped only with my general knowledge that the Scream films were partially meta-satires, I came to the theater expecting a run-of-the-mill slasher flick with a slight self-aware edge. My expectations were far surpassed. Scream 2022 is an extremely clever parody of itself and all of the other recent “not-quite-reboots” we’ve seen in recent years. 


For those familiar with Scream, the notion of characters trying to “follow the rules” of horror films is no new concept. Characters who are fully aware of horror tropes is a staple of the series. Scream 2022, however, adds a new layer to this concept: namely, its self-awareness for the tropes present in “soft-reboots,” such as 2018’s Halloween; its sequel Halloween Kills; and Ghostbusters Afterlife. 


There is an entire monologue where a character expounds on the rules of “Requals” as they refer to them in the film -- making jokes about how there needs to be some originality but nothing too original to irritate fans, balancing new characters and “Legacy Characters.” The monologue is delivered while “Legacy Character” Dewey sits on the couch expressing his regret for getting involved with the new protagonist.



Scream 2022’s self-aware humor is not just a commentary on Hollywood, pointing out how these “requals” have formulaic elements, but also a critique of film audiences. The film jokes around with fandoms and how offended fans of franchises can be when studios produce terrible films cashing in on popular intellectual properties.


The critiques of audiences and the formulaic nature of the “requal” stings all the more when we consider the fairly high reception these types of films have received. 2018’s Halloween is “certified fresh” on “Rotten Tomatoes” with a 79% critic and 70% audience score. Ghostbusters Afterlife actually dips a little lower with a 62% critic rating but an outstanding 94% audience rating. The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot is an interesting case because it lacks the “Legacy Character” trope Scream 2022 attacks and has a much lower audience rating of 49%.


While the low audience score for the 2016 Ghostbusters may have to do with the controversy related to rebooting the franchise with an all-female cast, this only seems to make its criticism of toxic fandom and nostalgic pandering all the more relevant.


The film revels in poking fun at the audience, whether it be its mindful dialogue or visual gags --  like the repetition of a staple horror shot being used repeatedly with no payoff. Scream 2022 is so good at this that by the second half of the film, I stopped considering it a horror film at all. I found myself laughing more during the film than I did wincing in fear. 


This may be a turnoff for fans of slashers and horror films as when the tone clicks in, it is certainly not one of constant dread and tension. It’s also hard for me to assess how this may be received by longtime fans of the franchise -- as I stated earlier, this was my first Scream film. 



It's hard to ignore the hypocrisy in criticizing these kinds of cash grabs when piggybacking off of a well-known IP yourself. However, this irony seemingly isn’t lost on the filmmakers who throw some jabs in that are directed at the film itself. 


A gripe I often have with slasher films is how the violence and gore employed is so needlessly cruel, excessive, and pointless that it ceases to be scary and becomes just visually unpleasant. An example of this is Halloween Kills, where Michael Myers’s killing spree is more painful to watch than it is terrifying. 


Gore can a powerful visual tool when employed properly. While I wouldn’t say its use of gore is great, Scream 2022 employs its violence competently – especially, for the typical horror film.


Overall, Scream 2022 is a fun time, and a joy for pop culture aficionados. The film isn't brilliant, but it does have wit and charm in spades, and serves as an excellent critique of a subgenre that has only just started, and is already being overdone.


Author Bio:

Garrett Hartman is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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