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[SPOILERS] Scream (2022)... So many surprises yet true to the original

Scream (2022) hit theaters on January 13 - the long-awaited fifth installment to Wes Craven's original 1996 thriller.

For those who are long time fans of the franchise, you'll recognize a few familiar faces... Courteney Cox reprises her role as Woodsboro journalist Gale Weathers alongside her on- and off-screen love interest Dewey Riley, played by David Arquette. Neve Campbell returns to the screen in her famous role of the un-killable Sidney Prescott...

...But are these the only familiar faces returning to Woodsboro?

After its release, the original 1996 film became the highest-grossing slasher film ever made and held the record for an incredible 22 years (Halloween (2018) stole the throne). The second highest grossing slasher film is Scream 2 (1997) - released only a year after the original.

With this, it should be no surprise that Scream (2022) - again, one week after hitting theaters - is topping the box office charts. Keep in mind that with the COVID pandemic (and recent Omicron variant surges), production companies have been opting to release their films digitally and in the cinema. Paramount Pictures (who produced the film after the rights to the franchise were sold following the Weinstein-Miramax-Dimension Debacle) took a gamble and elected to release the film only in theaters. At this point, Scream (2022) has pulled in an average of $1.5 million per day at the box office whereas the runner-up (Spider-man: No Way Home) is pulling in $1.3 million. This is insane considering at this moment, Disney's biggest competition is a horror flick.

All earnings aside, this film does bring nostalgia back for those who have followed the Woodsboro Murders since the mid-1990's. The film is a direct sequel to the fourth film (Scre4m (2011)) despite the film marketed as a reboot of the franchise. The original characters - Gale, Dewey, and Sidney - are all, once again, looking to unmask the phantom killer, however the main characters are fresh faces to the franchise, sourced from Netflix productions and the like.

Brodie Bruce said it best: "They change just enough of the plot to get you to pay for the same crap over again; So if you like Harry Potter, Cash In-icus, you're getting ten fucking more! You like the Fast and Furious flicks? We're gonna drive the franchise into the ground, bitch!"

Jason Lee as Brodie Bruce in Mallrats (1995) Would you like a chocolate covered pretzel?

Anyway... this is a sequel. The plot is similar, but in a fashion the directors use to pay tribute to the original. This film is the first in the franchise to be directed in the absence of the great Wes Craven. As the franchise changed hands, the MTV Scream TV-series turd pile was still steaming, and it didn't seem they'd ever make a true-to-brand sequel again. Lo and behold, we are gifted with Scream 5. Even preparing to watch the film, there was skepticism and doubt as to whether it could be done without Wes.

Being a "meta" film as it was, Scream (1996) was one of the first slasher films to talk about the "rules" of horror, and essentially shines a bright light on itself as a genre. One good example is the Stab franchise in the Scream Universe; films that are essentially the exact film that we're watching in the theater. Another one of Wes's famous franchises - A Nightmare on Elm Street - featured a similar film which brought the fantasy universe character into real life. Wes Craven's A New Nightmare (1994) was a film about Robert Englund and Heather LAngenkamp (cast as themselves) battling Freddy Krueger as he clawed his way into the actor and actress's dreams.

With Sid, Gale, and Dewey making an appearance and the writers having the courage to kill off an original character (RIP Deputy Dewey), what more can you ask for in a sequel?

To the original question posed by this blog... No - there's more. One more familiar face makes it back to Woodsboro. Incredibly, Billy Loomis - Sidney's boyfriend and original killer in Scream (1996) - makes a cameo back from the grave in a role reprised by none other than Skeet Ulrich himself. Billy was a critical character in the entire Scream franchise in spite of his death at the end of the first film. His crazed mother was half of the killer duo in Scream 2 and he is referenced all throughout the third film; Billy is the original boogeyman we know to be Ghostface.

A post by @SkeetUlrich on Instagram: "What year is it?? … Scream is #1 at the box office and Billy Loomis lives on…or does he?? 😱🔪"

Billy's character is reprised in the film as a mental figment of who is revealed to be Billy's secret daughter from the high school days before his death. This is one aspect of the film I wrestled with... who did Billy Loomis get pregnant in the first film and why didn't we see this in the other films? Billy's daughter learns who her father is when she was 18-years old; a secret which broke up the family. Billy then makes intermittent cameos symbolizing the mental conflict she faces as she wrestles with whether or not she inherited his psychotic personality (I'd say yes based off the hallucinations...).

After being killed at the end of the first film, it seems it was generally accepted that he would not be returning from the dead in any future films. Seeing Billy Loomis in his blood-stained white t-shirt, jeans, and work boots with his classic 90's butt-cut was a bit of nostalgia like no other. De-aging technology was used and all of his scenes were done in front of a green screen. It's been published that re-enactments of the crime scene photos from the original bloodbath were shot with Skeet Ulrich, however these did not make it into the film.

Flamethrower Ghostface from "STAB 8" Trailer in Scream (2022)

One call-out scene is the classic "behind you" moment where the soon-to-be victim is shouting at a TV screen "LOOK BEHIND YOU," meanwhile they have the murderer over their shoulder. The original scene in the 1996 film actually featured Skeet Ulrich in costume as Ghostface - his only scene in costume - as he stands behind Randy. In the new film, Skeet had the opportunity to re-live this nostalgia moment in costume as he re-enacted the scene.

What else could there possibly be? Scream (2022) features many Easter eggs for long-time fans to uncover. Other original cast members found their way into the cast - Drew Barrymore made a voice cameo over the announcements in the first high school scene where we meet our new lead characters and Matthew Lillard cameos as the voice of "Flamethrower Ghostface" in the Stab 8 film preview. This film truly went out of the way to ensure a full cast reunion for the latest installment of the franchise, and it did not disappoint.

25 years after the first film, Scream (2022) delivers to fans of the original flick with returning characters, new twists, and surprise cameos from characters long forgotten.

Chris Durand, in-costume actor for Ghostface in Scream 2 (1997) at Monster-Mania Con, Cherry Hill, NJ, 2021;

Skeet Ulrich aka Billy Loomis from Scream (1996) at Days of the Dead Convention, Concord, NC 2019

Matthew Lillard, actor who played Stu Macher in Scream (1996) at Monster-Mania Con in Hunt Valley, MD, 2019.

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