Scream? More like Scam…

WARNING: Spoiler up ahead for Scream 5

In recent films, the cell phone has become controversial due to its probability, ease of use, and ability to provide assistance in times of suspense. Scream, on the other hand, welcomed technology, lowering the suspense and horror. Throughout the movie it’s seen that modern technology has emerged in the new Scream movie. For example, at the beginning of the movie, while Tara was struggling to keep out Ghostface from getting inside her house, she used her phone to lock all the house doors by just clicking it and- *poof*- all doors are locked. 

Imagine receiving an unknown call on your house phone in the middle of the night and simultaneously receiving a text message from one of your close friends, texting you, “You should answer it.” You then question yourself and ask her “How did you know my landline was ringing?..Amber?”. Finally, you receive a reply with “This isn’t Amber.” and you realize that something is completely wrong. This was not imagination for the fictional character Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega). This was her reality.

Scream 5 is the new continuation of the Scream series, released on January 14, 2022. Starring Jenna Ortega, Neve Campbell, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Melissa Barrera, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jack Quaid, etc., the film was successful with 76% rotten tomatoes and with a box office of $122.5 million over the month of January. 

A new Ghostface arises twenty-five years after the original series of murders in Woodsboro, where Sidney Prescott must return to investigate the truth. Scream was influenced by Williamson’s fondness for horror films, particularly Halloween, and was inspired by the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper (1978). The Gainesville Ripper is the famous American Serial killer (Danny Rolling) who murdered five students in Gainesville, Florida, over four days in the month of August in the late 1990’s. The screenplay, which was initially named Scary Movie, not to be confused with the 2000’s comedy, was purchased by Dimension Films and retitled by the Weinstein Brothers just before filming began.

Kevin Williamson wrote the Scream movie series with the purpose to show the audience that Scream, like previous entries, satirizes the tendency of reboots and legacy sequels by combining slasher violence with elements of black humor and “whodunit” intrigue. The film also makes a point about fan culture and the difference between “elevated horror” and classic slasher movies such as the Halloween movie series. 

When you analyze the movie, you will notice that there is more usage of cell phones than in all the past scream movies. Is this because teens are involved in the movie, or is it because of the modern days we now live in? The phone was also utilized in Tara’s retaliation, with Ghostface providing Sam the choice between her sister or her injured lover, Richie, at the hospital, causing the killer to salivate over the phone. Ghostface uses a voice box next to his neck that gives him the capability to speak. 

Picture by: Paramount Pictures

Another devastating scene was when Dewey’s cell was used to distract him when Gale called to check on his safety in the hospital, allowing Ghostface to eventually kill him. It became even more and more frightening later when Chad left Amber’s party to find his enraged girlfriend, Liz, using a tracking software, only to be killed. What was even more upsetting was how difficult it was for him to operate his touch screen interface due to the blood on his hands and phone.

All of this ties into Ghostface’s mission in Scream to unite the old and new generations, not just in terms of viewers, but also in terms of plot. Allowing cell usage to thrive was a meta-statement for the murderer, who desired the best of both worlds. Sid was the one who put a stop to the usage of telephones in the movie by hanging up hers to battle Ghostface since she didn’t need contact any longer, just a brawl. It once again showed that despite revamping the brand, Scream didn’t take itself too seriously.

Scream’s mileage isn’t what it used to be, with four films and a television series spread out over a quarter-century. The cell phone gimmick, in particular, is a far way from the original and no longer has the same smoking gun quality. Even if Randy was still alive in Scream, adding extra restrictions of surviving sequels, trilogies, or reboots would definitely feel forced. While Scream’s satire has lost a lot of its bite, the show has also experienced a slump. Scream was an unexpected smash hit when it was released in December 1996, and Scream 2, which came out less than a year later, managed to keep the spark alive. At the same time, Scream 2 was probably the franchise’s pinnacle, with Scream 3 and Scream 4 receiving less positive reviews than their predecessors. Moreover, while introducing a few fresh concepts into the tale, Scream 4 was the lowest-grossing film in the series, failing to re-energize the Scream franchise after an eleven-year sabbatical. Scream 5 was a solid 7/10 due to the introduction of teens and new technologies throughout the movie.