LIMA — It isn’t as if film-goers weren’t warned.
With the latest version of “Scream,” what you see – knives and buckets of blood — is what you get. The movie’s trailers and social media posts don’t leave much to the imagination.
Indeed, the original tale by Kevin Williamson gets trotted out again, a quarter-century after somebody wearing the infamous Ghostface mask wreaked havoc on small-town California.
This year’s revival opens with a recognizable scene albeit with a different young lady named Tara (Jenna Ortega) at home alone, answering her family’s landline while mom is overseas. The creepy caller is a new killer incognito as Ghostface, who attacks the teen girl, thus luring her estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) — who harbors a secret — back home.
We’re also introduced to a group of youthful characters who epitomize contrivance and appear hand-selected from the United Nations.
Middle-aged participants who resurface from the 1996 forbearer include Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell resuscitating their roles as Gale, Dewey and Sidney, respectively.
Also returning – as the man in the mirror, in the form of Skeet Ulrich – is the original movie’s main killer.
With the litany of red herrings, motives and sketchy alibis, the suspects could be almost anybody on screen. As if the audience is a bit slow on the uptake, one player makes it clear: “We’re all suspects.”
The script stacks the inside jokes high, with tedious references to a film series called “Stab.” That leads to an inevitable moment: While watching a “Stab” sequel, a “Scream” character doesn’t notice the real-life killer is sneaking up on her.
The would-be murder segments prove less scary than gratuitous. Suspense is criminally lacking; any momentary feeling of dread isn’t sustaining.
Ghostface’s attacks are often telegraphed: If he isn’t behind one door, rest assured he will emerge from the next.
A few performers come off as genuine – not an easy achievement within this chaotic spectacle. Arquette is a natural fit as the forlorn washed-up officer keeping a low profile; young Ortega shows promise as the sacrificial lamb; while Campbell plays it cool and unspoiled, lending the movie some dignity.
Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin serve as co-directors, but the 2022 “Scream” — for most intents and purposes – may as well have been crafted by any filmmaker.
Given the similar storyline and familiar faces, most spectators are likely to disagree with Dewey’s assertion that “Something about this one just feels different.”
Reach James Luksic at 567-242-0399.