Tag Archives: David Arquette

And Scream Again


by Hope Madden

A quarter-century ago, horror master Wes Craven reinvented his genre of choice—again—with a savvy, funny, scary murder mystery. Scream was an inside-out spoof of the genre, a clever dissection of the tropes and cliches wrapped up in a celebration of those same elements.

It was not our first meta-movie, but it was the first movie to refer to itself as such.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not) return to Woodsboro for the franchise’s fifth installment. This go-round comments blisteringly (and entertainingly) not just on horror, but on the post-internet realities of cinema in general.

They really have a good time with that.

Tara Carpenter (the first of maybe 300 horror name drops), played by a remarkable Jenna Ortega, is home alone when she receives a threatening phone call. She doesn’t want to talk about slashers, though. She’d rather discuss “elevated horror.”

That’s an in-joke, one of dozens, each landing but none taking away from the larger story. In that one, Tara’s older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera, In the Heights) returns to Woodsboro upon hearing of Tara’s attack. She follows advice from someone who would know and assembles Tara’s close-knit ring of friends to suss out suspects.

But to really anchor these newfangled reboot/sequels (or, in the parlance of another inside gag, “requels”), Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin will need some familiar faces. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette are three excellent reasons to see the new Scream, a film that is both a fan of the franchise and a cynic of fandom.

The young cast excels as well—Dylan Minnette and Jasmin Savoy Brown, in particular. In fact, Barrera in the central role is the only real weak spot. As was the case in In the Heights, she poses more than acts, a flaw that’s never more obvious than when she shares the screen with the noticeably more talented Ortega.

The filmmakers, along with writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, fill scenes with nostalgia too cheeky to be simple fan service. Their clear affection for the franchise (a surprisingly strong set of films, as horror series go) is evident and infectious.

You do not have to know the 1996 original or any of its sequels to enjoy Scream. It’s a standalone blast. But if you grew up on these movies, this film is like a bloody message of love for you.

Workin’ for a Livin’

12 Hour Shift

by Hope Madden

“My mama always said, never trust a skinny woman. While we are eating, they are plotting.”

Amen, sister.

The skinny woman in question is Mandy (Angela Bettis, glorious as always). And she’s skinny for a reason.

It’s the tail end of 1999 somewhere in Texas and Mandy’s just starting a 12 Hour Shift. She’s a nurse (on probation) in a hospital that’s not well staffed, not well run, and losing more patients and organs than it has a right to.

Writer/director Brea Grant strikes an intriguing tone. Her film’s humor is simultaneously deadpan, macabre and very silly. It’s an unusual spot to hit because you don’t root against any of the bad guys, even though they’re doing horrible and often needless things to perfectly likable people. Mainly out of stupidity.

Bettis is dead-eyed perfection, her unflappable nature a front for reluctant tenderness. She’s orbited by a wild assortment of hicks, Karens, low-rent crime lords, criminals, hypochondriacs, bumbling cops, and drugs. So, so many drugs.

Boldly colorful and strikingly stupid, Chloe Farnworth’s Regina is a wonderful counterpoint to Mandy. Together the two generate laughs with the kind of frustrating bond you only have with kin.

Nikea Gamby-Turner’s comfortable presence creates a great energy, while producer David Arquette essentially plays David Arquette (but he does it so well!).

Grant’s film is ghoulish and tense, with a genuinely unexpected musical number. It’s a hard film to nail down, and though it plays out like a long and especially bloody sitcom, the utter lunacy of the plot feels grounded in an authentic exhaustion and insanity known only to those who work in hospitals.