For die-hards, no horror movie can be too scary. But for you, a wimp, the wrong one can leave you miserable. Never fear, scaredies, because Slate’s Scaredy Scale is here to help. We’ve put together a highly scientific and mostly spoiler-free system for rating new horror movies, comparing them with classics along a 10-point scale. And because not everyone is scared by the same things—some viewers can’t stand jump scares, while others are haunted by more psychological terrors or simply can’t stomach arterial spurts—it breaks down each movie’s scares across three criteria: suspense, spookiness, and gore.
The latest movie to step up to the scale is Scream, formerly known as Scream 5, the first in the franchise in more than a decade. Longtime director Wes Craven, who died in 2015, is replaced by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not), who assemble a slaughter-ready young cast with a “tie to the past” of the original crew (Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox, appearing in smaller but still central roles). This time, the characters ask aloud why we’re not instead watching “elevated horror” like The Babadook, and explain the new rules of the “requel,” a reboot that’s also a sequel. Does this one have anything on the winking, still-gruelling Drew Barrymore sequence that ruined many lives in 1996’s Scream, or is the joke on us? Read on.
The new Scream ably plays with bathroom mirrors and refrigerator doors in extended fakeout sequences that are meant to be part of the joke—until, inevitably, the masked killer really does jump out after all. The movie has a few clever jolts that will surely get the easy marks in the crowd, but compared to the original, they’re manageable.
Scream caused a minor scandal in the ’90s with its violence, and this movie finds the franchise as bloody as ever, if not moreso. Cracked legs, knives wriggling under skin, immolation: It’s all here, folks.
Scream (1996) managed to make a guy chasing a woman around a house alone at night scary again. If that will still keep you up at night, and you are for some reason planning to watch Scream 5, perhaps abstain. Everyone else will likely find the movie vanishes from their heads the moment they exit the theater.
The new Scream takes cheerful aim at the die-hard fans who demand too much fidelity from film franchises, especially this one. I will out myself: I am one of them. I could watch Scream movies until the end of time. But if I may offer one humble note without inspiring anyone to remove my internal organs, it may be time for the series to focus a little less on its rapid-fire jokes (and this movie has some great ones) and a little more on the bone-rattling scares that the original movie knew were just as key to its subversive mission. Scream (2022) has its moments, but it’s not even as scary as Scream 2. In other words: Wimps, you’re in luck.