Verdict: Fans of the Scream series won't be disappointed by this smart, satirical, and violent instalment

Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette reprise their long-running Scream characters for the fifth instalment in the horror franchise.

Twenty-five years after the original killing spree, Ghostface is back to terrorise the people of Woodsboro once again.

For this fifth instalment, which takes place 10 years after the previous outing, a new group of young adults who have connections to the original murders are targeted, particularly sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega).

As they always do, original survivors Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) return to Woodsboro to help unmask and take down Ghostface once again.

This is the first Scream film to be made without Wes Craven, who died in 2015. But Scream fans don’t need to worry as the new directors, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, clearly know this franchise inside and out and understand what makes a Scream movie. This film honours Craven’s legacy while bringing it up to date for modern audiences, who want smarter and more violent deaths.

They certainly deliver on that front. The kills were relatively tame before and viewers never saw much before the camera cut away. That’s not the case anymore – the kills in this Scream are brutal and bloody and you see so much more injury detail than ever before. The directing duo have upped the gore factor but kept the scare level the same (read: not very scary), a decision which should satisfy both horror and specifically Scream fans.

The meta comedy aspect of the franchise is still very much alive. There are a bunch of laugh-out-loud moments, particularly when the film routinely pokes fun at itself and the “rules” of horror films and sequels. It even mocks itself for reusing the original’s title and for being a “requel”, or a reboot/sequel hybrid.

As audiences are fed up with stupid character decisions and tired ’90s tropes, this Scream had to be smart and break some of the horror rules it jokes about. It successfully manages to do that and also knowingly pokes fun at certain tropes or subverts them which makes the narrative much more unpredictable.

Out of the returning four characters (Marley Shelton is also back as Judy Hicks), Dewey has the most interesting backstory. He’s a totally different person compared to the enthusiastic yet awkward deputy sheriff we first met 25 years ago. He has been through a lot and he has the weary attitude of someone who has given up. It felt like he’d been on a big journey between Scream 4 and 5 whereas Sidney and Gale – who are still the same fearless survivors they were before – felt pretty much the same.

There are so many new characters in this. Barrera is the lead in this film and essentially the Sidney replacement. While she gives a solid performance, the standouts were Ortega as her sister, one tough cookie, and Jasmin Savoy Brown as the new movie nerd Mindy. They are supported by the likes of Jack Quaid, Dylan Minnette, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison and Sonia Ben Ammar.

History makes us assume the fifth instalment in a long-running horror franchise won’t be any good so it’s a relief that Scream bucks this trend. It is easily better than the previous two Scream films – fans of this series won’t be disappointed.

In cinemas Friday 14th January.

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