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Review: ‘Scream’ calls again, with plenty of self-mockery

It’s easy to chuckle (and agree) with such winking pronouncements. There’s a lot of such self-referential jokes in the new “Scream.” But that’s about all there is.

What really is the legacy of “Scream”? Most, I suspect, hardly recall the three sequels. The original got a big boost from the personalities of its performers, among them Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Matthew Lillard. (All but Lillard return here.) But, like Tara suggests, the “Scream” movies seem like quickly aged relics — particularly when you consider that they were the products of Harvey and Bob Weinstein. If anything, “Scream” persists mostly because Ghostface, its killer’s trademark Edvard Munch-like mask, remains a Halloween staple.

Filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who helmed 2019’s “Ready or Not”), working from the script by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, don’t offer up much reason for a retread beside some kitschy killer nostalgia, more fun with phones and enough self-mocking irony to almost distract from how thin the movie is.

Working in their favor is a solid young cast, including Ortega, Melissa Barrera (“In the Heights”) and Jack Quaid (son of Dennis). Tara’s near-fatal encounter in the film’s first scene draws her estranged sister, Sam (Barrera), to her bedside. Sam arrives with her boyfriend, Richie (Quaid), who professes unfamiliarity with the “Stab” films but proves a quick study at their rules of survival. We are back in Woodsboro, California, the setting for all the “Scream” films and site of the murders said to inspire the “Stab” movies. When Ghostface begins slashing again, the kids appeal to an earlier Woodsboro generation (Arquette, Cox, Campbell) for help.

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