Sorting the Screams

The Rules

Rule 5: Without meta-commentary, you’re just Valentine with David Boreanaz, nobody wants that

The two iconic quotes of the franchise are “What’s your favourite scary movie” and “There are rules to surviving a scary movie.” The Randy knows what movie they’re in, and teaches us what that means. Such as…

6. Scream 3

I don’t know that Randy’s rules for the concluding chapter of a trilogy hold up at all. He cites Return of the Jedi (loosely applicable at best) and The Godfather Part III (haven’t seen, can’t comment), but Back to the Future Part 3 doesn’t fit his pattern at all, Indiana Jones was just episodic adventures rather than a connected trilogy, and honestly no horror franchise went the trilogy route back then. Trilogies were just becoming the New Hotness when this came out, but never horror movies, and the big trilogies of the 2000s don’t follow these rules at all. So the Rules for a Concluding Chapter of a Trilogy feel like excuses for their goofy plot choices.

5. Scream 2

“The sequel needs to up the stakes.” Thanks, Randy, that’s deep and helpful. I mean yes, it’s true, it’s demonstrably true on two fronts. Watch the first five minutes of Goldfinger followed by Die Another Day and you’ll see dramatic proof of how sequels need to escalate until it becomes unsustainable. And yes, check the stats up above and you’ll see that the sequel does indeed up the body count, even if it means a few bonus casualties less connected to the core cast.

4. Scream 4

Okay I think they were flailing a little on this one. “Everything is remakes now” was undeniably true for the time, and the need for a remake to outdo the original is a thing, but their other big rule about the importance of subversion only really affects one plot beat. Honestly the drinking game rules for the Stab marathon have more to say than the rules sequence. The rules about how badly cops do in these movies hold up, though.

3. Scream VI

We’re only now reaching “franchise” in our rules? The idea that once you’ve hit the critical mass of being a franchise, legacy characters are expendable certainly holds true, but come on girl, you know they aren’t going to continue the Bond franchise without James Bond, we are lurching towards a full reboot and we all know it. But hey these rules do add stakes, that’s a benefit.

2. Scream

This one’s about calling out the tropes of the genre, specifically the puritanical rules of Reagan’s America that shaped the splatter genre: sex, drugs, and other behaviour that would make monocles fall into martinis equals sudden death. Also never say “I’ll be right back,” which in this franchise is more likely to mark someone as the killer than victim. Look, Scream wouldn’t be Scream without this level of self-awareness.

1. Scream 5, Just Be Scream 5, Why Are You Like This

Really does a good job at spelling out the zeitgeist. Scream 2022 came out in the age of the requel, and our latest Randy does a brilliant job explaining how the requel came about and how they work. Because as someone who’s had to become very familiar with remakes and reboots, requels are a whole other thing. This perhaps does the best job at defining the tropes we’re living under since the first movie, and stealth-sets up the Ghostface motive.

Next page: “Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal!”

Author: danny_g

Danny G, your humble host and blogger, has been working in community theatre since 1996, travelling the globe on and off since 1980, and caring more about nerd stuff than he should since before he can remember. And now he shares all of that with you.

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