Way back in 1996, the movie “Scream” brought horror films to a new generation. Now, Ghostface has returned and after Scream 1, 2, 3, and 4, the fifth film goes back to the basics. It’s just called “Scream” and will definitely please fans of the franchise. Movie guy Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us his review of a few new movies out.
SCREAM (In theaters)
Twenty-five years ago, Scream rocked the horror genre revitalizing the slasher flick for a new audience. The fifth film is simply titled Scream and will definitely please fans. The town of Woodsboro has never been the same after Ghostface sliced and diced and left his mark. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are back in their iconic as Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley who have fought back time and time again. After a new series of killings in Woodsboro pop up, they’re reunited again after Samantha Carpenter asks for their help as Ghostface appears to be targeting a new crop of teens who happen to have a connection to the original victims.
-Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera, Marley Shelton, Jack Quaid, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown
-Franchise director Wes Craven passed away in 2015, but directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett take on the daunting task of honoring Craven and the imprint he had on the first four films. If you saw their previous film, Ready or Not, you’ll notice the vision they have for blending the suspense and humor that Scream is known for.
– There’s something so eerie about hearing Roger Jackson providing the voice of Ghostface as he taunts his victims, and the directors keep the killer as ruthless and brutal as ever before without making him too vicious and overly gory.
-The tone and game in the opening sequence is classic Scream with a commentary on the state of the horror genre today much like the original did in 1996 and Scream 4 did in 2011. There are conversations on elevated horror like The Babadook and It Follows and growing tired of slashers like Stab, the franchise within a franchise. Toxic fandom becomes a key theme, and Dewey informs the new group of the rules of surviving as the killers seem to be creating a real-life “Requel.”
-The pace is pretty aggressive as the directing team keep up the kills and the guessing game for the audience playing up the notion that “Everybody’s a Suspect” You can make a case for anyone being the killer until they’re finally revealed in the third act.
-There’s an extra emotional weight at hand with the return of Campbell, Arquette and Cox and you can see it in their performances. They’re all in supporting roles as this film doesn’t rely on them to carry the film but add in that history they have with the story.
-The reboot/revival/requel trend sometimes has problems bringing back original actors accurately but Scream nails that. They’re aided by a terrific new generation with Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Jack Quaid being my MVPs.
The fifth Scream would make Wes Craven proud with what this cast and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have in store. It’s full of thrills, chills, and laughs as Ghostface is back for a vengeance.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH (In theaters, AppleTV+)
There is no shortage of Shakespeare adaptations out there, but Joel Coen has directed a sharp take on the Scottish play with The Tragedy of Macbeth. Denzel Washington leads the film as the title character, Macbeth. He’s visited by three witches, all played by the great Kathryn Hunter, who convince him he should be the king of Scotland. As they say, “Fair is foul and foul is fair” With the help of his wife, Lady Macbeth, he believes their prophecies and kills King Duncan to rule the throne over Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain. This act of misguided ambition leads to a series of murders, madness, and visions.
-Starring: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Brendan Gleeson, Bertie Carvel, Corey Hawkins, Alex Hassel
-Joel Coen is taking on a solo effort here as his frequent collaborator and brother Ethan Coen decided not to work on this one. What Coen does with Shakespeare’s tragedy is strip it down to its bare bones getting right down to the vicious blood at hand. He’s taken the five act play and made it into a swift movie that clock it at only 100 minutes.
-You can still feel that theatricality at hand as its given an intimate and confined feel under Coen’s direction and use of filming on soundstages. He and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel have shot it in black and white and their choice is quite effective consistently playing with light and shadow as there’s always a deception and illusion at hand within the mindset of these characters.
-There’s an eerie effect as you watch to see who lingers or approaches from the distance and what their true calling may be. It’s bleak and gloomy atmosphere is felt instantly.
-Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are two of the best actors working today having six Oscars between them from over a dozen nominations. They’re both a force in the industry and on camera, so it’s rewarding to see them play off each other as two of Shakespeare’s most notorious characters. They have an easy handle on the text showing restraint at first as they crescendo into an unraveling madness.
-Kathryn Hunter has limited screen time as the three witches, but she makes it count developing this Gollum-like approach contorting her body in an eerie fashion.
– It’s clear that Joel Coen trusts the language and his actors to do the work as he doesn’t try to overwork the piece by giving it an alternative timeline or design concept. The costumes and production design by Stefan Dechant invoke the period while retaining a sharp and evocative look that’s further complimented by the cinematography.
-The Tragedy of Macbeth is lean in its execution and misses a little of the inner workings in the relationships between characters, but it still packs a punch for those who can’t get enough of the Bard.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS