THE WORLD‘S OPINION – PASS
While the horror genre seems, recently and happily, to be returning to a space of primal cruelty (Terrify 1 and 2 in 2017 and 2022) and overstepping its own boundaries by opening up to an even darker dimension (Halloween Ends in 2022), the Scream franchise continue on. Created in 1996 by screenwriter Kevin Williamson and filmmaker Wes Craven (1939-2015), the series, now in its sixth installment, is meant to be a play on the ultra-repetitive and static conventions of the horror subgenre that is the slasher: a tale of a killer repeatedly attacking teenagers, often with a knife.
The characters, aware of themselves, had fun with the clichés, commented on them, sometimes anticipated the action and dismantled the static devices of a film genre that was beginning to show its age. The style became more important than the root cause. One could criticize this postmodern way of approaching the plot twists and exposing them in a kind of cynical irony, playing on the incredulity of a spectator who was no longer fooled.
Cleverly, the Scream saga was a delightful conceptual introspection on the very nature of cinematographic entertainment, placing horror cinema in the status of a commodity that is both infinitely reproducible, like the number of killers in each installment; determined by the evolution of the means of communication (the cell phone, the internet, social media, etc.); and subject to the contemporary developments in cultural industries.
This sixth installment picks up the characters from the previous movie: Having escaped the killer who was rampaging through the small town of Woodsboro, two sisters have moved to New York, where they hope to recover from the trauma they suffered. The murders begin again, carried out by a masked individual dressed like the original killer. Who in the girls’ circle is the killer?
By moving the action from a small town to New York, the filmmakers probably wanted to give it a slight facelift. Indeed, the basic principle – the cliché and then the designation of the cliché as a cliché – seems to exhaust itself and give rise to endless dialogue scenes where the characters themselves reveal the conventions of which they are prisoners.
The storyline here lets everything go by the wayside and sometimes progresses according to a series of accidents and turns that are truly improbable. This is the last straw when you think you are addressing an audience that no longer falls for the scare. Moreover, those who have not seen or have forgotten the previous film will find it difficult not to get lost in all the allusions to the protagonists’ past. And then, what is the point of wanting to “deconstruct” cinematographic stereotypes if it is to fall back, ultimately, into the praise of romantic love and family?
Perhaps the movie’s only innovation is the idea of a museum maintained by the assassin and collecting all the objects (clothes, masks, weapons) from the previous films. The museum exhibition becomes the ultimate stage of the mass culture industry. For the rest, perhaps it should stop.
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