‘Scream’ is Still Nailing the Horror Zeitgeist

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Scream 2022 (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Mason Gooding, Dylan Minnette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Kyle Gallner, Sonia Ben Ammar, Roger L. Jackson

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Running Time: 114 Minutes

Rating: R for A Lot of Blood, and a Few Chats About Getting It On

Release Date: January 14, 2022 (Theaters)

The latest Scream movie is the fifth in the slasher series, but it’s not called “Scream 5.” Instead, it’s just called “Scream,” exactly like the very first entry. This is the latest example of an annoying trend in which sequels that also work as reboots to long-running franchises have the exact same title as the original, with 2018’s Halloween perhaps the most notorious example. I had convinced myself not to talk about the title in my review, figuring that it would be more interesting to focus on the content of the actual movie. But then I watched the movie, and it turned out that there’s a very good reason for that recycled title. Because this time around, the Woodsboro stabbing crew is aiming its knife at those franchise “requels” and all the other cinema that inspires a certain breed of toxic fandom.

More than 25 years after the first killing spree, you could be forgiven for wondering how there still could possibly be anyone connected to Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) with enough bloodlust to justify another sequel. The answer is that this time around, the motivation is less logical, and therefore more brutal and disturbing. You know the sorts of people who complain about how the likes of latter-day Star Wars and female-led Ghostbusters have destroyed their childhoods? What if they were so upset that they resorted to murder to set things right? That’s a premise that could conceivably stand on its own as an original horror flick, but it feels all too appropriate that instead it has commandeered one of the most beloved scary movie franchises of all time.

In some ways, this latest Scream is like an original effort, insofar as it focuses on the new faces ahead of the legacy characters much more so than any of the other adventures of Woodsboro. But of course, it’s still very much a part of the franchise insomuch as it follows the formula of a killer (or killers) lurking within a friend group of horny young people while terrorizing them with creepy phone calls. (Roger L. Jackson returns once again as the voice of Ghostface, and his deep cadence sounds a lot like the deep, steady tones of original Scream director Wes Craven, to the point that I wondered if Craven had before his 2015 passing recorded some dialogue to be used later.) Don’t worry too much about staleness, though, as there are some zigs when you expect zags, as characters either don’t know – or don’t care – about the rules that supposedly determine who dies and how in a horror movie. Co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have a knack for keeping audiences on their toes like this, which they demonstrated amply in their 2019 bloodbath Ready or Not.

At times, the acting may skew a little more melodramatic than is advisable, but overall, Scream remains as remarkably fun and fresh as it’s ever been. Where originally there were conversations about how blade-wielders patiently stalk their victims, now we have discussions about how the newest generation of horror tastemakers are enthralled by “elevated horror” like The Babadook and Hereditary, and how long-in-the-tooth franchises need to find that sweet spot of “not too different, not too repetitive” to succeed. Scream 2022 finds that sweet spot, and goes in for the kill.

Scream (2022) is Recommended If You Like: Defending all the Scream sequels, Ready or Not, You’re Next, Talking with your fellow movie -obsessed friends, Film Twitter, Listening to and/or hosting movie podcasts

Grade: 4 out of 5 Requels

Organ Harvesting in a Hospital Makes for a Black Comedy Caper in ’12 Hour Shift’

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12 Hour Shift (CREDIT: Matt Glass/Magnet Releasing)

Starring: Angela Bettis, Chloe Farnworth, Nikea Gamby-Turner, Kit Williamson, David Arquette, Mick Foley

Director: Brea Grant

Running Time: 86 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (with Some R-Level Gore and Profanity, and a Few Bits of Nudity)

Release Date: October 2, 2020 (Theaters and On Demand)

There’s been plenty of ink spilled over bottle episodes, but what about the bottle movie? Outings of TV that take place in only one location naturally call attention to themselves, as they tend to break the typical mold of any given show. Whereas when a film keeps its setting confined, it doesn’t exactly feel out of the ordinary, since it’s normal for that particular movie. But it’s nevertheless worth examining when it does happen, as in the one-crazy-night black comedy 12 Hour Shift. When people are stuck in one place for an extended period, secrets and extreme parts of people’s personalities tend to be revealed, and oh boy is that the case here.

Besides a quick trip in the beginning, all of 12 Hour Shift takes place in and around a hospital in Arkansas in 1999 (that turn-of-the-millennium setting eventually pays off with a sly little Y2K joke). Mandy (Angela Bettis) is a nurse on probation who’s really pushing her luck by procuring organs from dying patients for a black market scheme. Her ditzy cousin-by-marriage Regina (Chloe Farnworth) bungles a kidney delivery and returns to the facility to harvest a replacement. Trouble is, there’s no obvious candidate to quickly pull off this transaction. So under the threat of possibly having to give up her own kidney, Regina quickly decides that she is willing to do just about anything (and I do mean ANYTHING) to procure some stranger’s organ.

Overnight shift work, particularly in a hospital, strikes me as a formula for hallucination. So when the shenanigans start ramping up, they’re understandably met with little more than shrugs. When patients see a fight breaking out in their room, they’re liable to think “Is this really happening?” and opt to go back to sleep. (That is, unless they’re dragged into the fight.) Meanwhile, the nurses have such a seen-it-all attitude that even the ones taking their duties really seriously are inclined to greet potential disasters with a “let’s just get through the night” response. The trouble is, that doesn’t really work when you have someone like Regina making mess after mess while unleashing her inner monster to cover her own ass. The pressure and farce in this flick heighten gradually, but soon enough, there’s no denying that this is a 12 Hour Shift for the ages.

12 Hour Shift is Recommended If You Like: Raising Arizona, Gory comedies, Imagining that a wacky murder mystery is going to play out while you’re working a graveyard shift

Grade: 3 out of 5 Kidneys

New Documentary Says, Dear Wrestling: ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’, Wrestling Fires Back: Chew on This

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You Cannot Kill David Arquette (CREDIT: Super LTD)

Starring: David Arquette

Directors: David Darg and Price James

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: R for Wrestling Blood and Man-Butt

Release Date: August 28, 2020 (Drive-In Theaters and On Demand)

I don’t want to kill David Arquette! But it sure seems like some hardcore wresting fans do. A bit of essential background: while Arquette was promoting his 2000 wrestling comedy Ready to Rumble, he was given the WCW World Championship belt, which apparently was a historically unpopular decision. That’s the instigating factor for the documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette, in which we see the star of Scream and Eight Legged Freaks attempt to actually make a legitimate go of a grappling career. For most of his public life, he’s been dismissed as a total goofball lightweight, and he doesn’t refute those accusations. Instead, he absorbs them as he attempts to transform into something else.

If you only know of Arquette through his most well-known movie roles, you will certainly see a new side of him here. Not an entirely new one, though. He still very much has an eager-to-please puppy-dog vibe through and through. And the hulking physique he adopts feels more like a shiny coat of paint rather than a full-on metamorphosis. But the impression that really lingers is the obsessive motor that drives Arquette to his core. He mentions at one point how he hates growing up, but I think what he really hates is letting go. Once he has decided who he is going to be and where his journey will take him, he literally cannot see any obstacles in his way to that goal

There’s a point in YCKDA when Arquette is finally going full-bore in the ring, with his face relentlessly covered in blood, and I cannot help but wonder: why? Why put yourself through that? Is it truly worth it? I know what Arquette’s answer is, and I know that it is very different from mine. That assumes, though, that he even bothers to stop and ask himself these questions, instead of just plowing forward with blinders on. Stories like You Cannot Kill David Arquette frighten me. That might be on purpose. It’s tough to watch what Mr. Arquette is putting himself through, but I do believe that he’s calling out to all of us to take witness of him.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette is Recommended If You Like: The bloodiest parts of The Wrestler, the gnarliest circuits in pro wrestling, Famous people putting themselves through a gauntlet

Grade: 3 out of 5 Heel Turns