Philippe Bossé/Paramount Pictures
Say what you want Shout, the 2022 reboot of the favorite 90/00s meta-slasher – he fully understood the pop-osphere culture he was entering and commenting on, i.e. the era of retreads and nostalgia “requels” without END. This original cycle was about making horror movies that bet on us, the viewers, knowing the rules of classic horror movies; any attempt to inject fresh blood into IP was inherently bound to create a very different world when it came to shared cinematic universes, film talk on Twitter, Easter eggs, and the like. the teen skulls at Camp Crystal Lake turned out to be even more on-brand than we would have expected. It was a franchise, after all, that was in toxic fandom fashion, path in front of the curve.
And yet…as anyone mastering multi-movie series will tell you, the savviest IP saviors are still at risk of exhausting their welcome, even when they’ve changed genre tropes and established a fresh start from legacy endings. . Shout VII – oh, so let’s move Roman numerals now are we? — relies on the willingness to stab your cake and eat it too from last year’s reset. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are back; ditto for screenwriters Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt. Melissa Barrera once again takes on the role of “final girl” as Sam Carpenter, and the now-famous Jenna Ortega returns as her equally traumatized sister, Tara. Familiar new faces, in the form of Mason Gooding and the invaluable Jasmin Savoy Brown as Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin, settle in next door to welcome older faces – Courtney Cox’s Gayle Weathers, of course , but also Kirby Reed (!) by Hayden Panettiere from Cry 4 – and Ghostfaces.
Instead of Woodsboro, Calif., the Carpenters & co. are now in New York, where Tara is attending Blackmore University and apparently majoring in numbing her psychic pain. As for Sam, she is the target of online conspiracy theories that posit that she staged all these murders and lives up to her line of Loomis. (His dad was Billy Loomis, aka the guy who did all those 90s homicides, who inspired the Stab movies.) But the fact that they’ve moved to the East Coast, along with the Meeks-Martin siblings, doesn’t stop a series of murders from happening in their neighborhood. And guess what kind of mask the killer, or perhaps the killers, is wearing? Sixth verse, identical to the first.
You don’t have to be a die-hard fan to be cold when – during a fake prologue involving a film studies professor, a blind date and what unexpectedly turns out to be a triple homicide – the voice of Roger L. Jackson first coos the eternal question, “What is your favorite horror movie?” via someone’s phone. This sinister baritone is firmly entrenched in the Horror Sonics Hall of Fame, right next to Friday 13It is tch-tch-tch-haw-haw-haw, The Roar of Godzilla and Every John Carpenter Score. But you may need to be a real Shout stan to be enthused by the constant internal reminders the film keeps throwing at you, whether in the name of die-hard fan reactions or lovingly poking fun at the fact that the show is now old enough to warrant its own deep-cut jokes at inside. And there’s a legitimate concern that the characters’ ribs will be so sore from endless nudging that they won’t feel a serrated blade wielded by Ghostface being slipped into them. (Spoiler: Don’t worry, several of them do.)
This is exactly the same balance as Bettinelli-Olpin, Gillett et al. made with Shout ’22, except they’ve already played their cards in terms of what they’re looking for besides old-school jump scares. Jasmin Savoy Brown’s speech about being caught up in a sequel was an exposition that doubled as an eloquent nation on the state of the genre, or perhaps vice versa. This time, once the bodies start piling up and the breadcrumb paths lead back to all the pasts Shout entrance, she exposes a new thesis: They are now caught in a franchise. Which means everyone is a suspect, everyone is now expendable no matter how much you are liked, and it’s less about the names above the title and more about the title. Just forget the cheap nostalgic bait – this post-resurrection chapter of the brand wants to stab the whole concept of an endless franchise of cheap horror movies and fan treats right in the face.
He sounds like a level-up in terms of objectives, isn’t it? Except the movie doesn’t say anything new about it, and given that it’s been a little over a year since Shout Expertly skewering the Mary Sue Nation, overly protective hives of fandom, and corporate exploitation of easily recognizable horror movie cannon fodder, this winking thesis is less of a deathblow and more of the already- seen. All that’s left are sets of what you can do in New York (there’s a good cat-and-mouse sequence between Ghostface and the Carpenters in a bodega, and an even better harassment scene in a crowded subway ) and reveals it, which forces credulity even for a Shout movie. Which certainly says something.
At one point, Cox’s tabloid reporter superstar discovers a hidden warehouse where the killer(s) have built some sort of Stab series sanctuary. There’s the knife that nearly gutted Panettiere’s fan favorite – who’s now an FBI agent! Go ahead, Kirby! — and there are sketches of the original recipe Shout victims, and over there are crates containing all the old Ghostface masks and capes. All of these artifacts turn the place into a mix of museum and homicidal HQ, and without saying too much, it’s a key location as far as the film’s climax goes. But it’s also a nifty little analogy for Cry VI himself. This sequel to the sequel has all the trappings of the series you know and love, has it all arranged for us to admire, and doesn’t know what to do with it all after putting it under glass or knocking a few. poses with worn accessories. For some people, that and a few jump alerts are enough. But the sixth time isn’t the charm here. And it’s certainly a lot less fun and clever than he thinks.