20 Jan

The Best Characters In Scream, Ranked

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Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s “Scream” (2022) explores many themes — elevated horror, “requels,” the entitlement that underscores modern fandoms — and it does so through its characters. This is notable, because it wasn’t a given. 

The third film in Wes Craven’s seminal slasher franchise all but abandoned its protagonists for rapid-fire plot points and Creed synchs. Other recent entries in blockbuster franchises that originated in the ’80s and ’90s rolled out old dramatis persones as victory laps (Looking at you, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”). There are so many crossroads at which ’22 “Scream” could’ve abandoned Sidney, Dewey, and its new batch of terrorized youths in favor of the road more traveled by.

By and large, it doesn’t. The new “Scream” recognizes that Wes Craven’s original was a referendum on why those who face a slasher down, and not just the big bad themself, endure. It offered a blueprint for building better horror heroes. “Scream” follows that plan to a T, adding its own inventive wrinkles and characters to what could have been a rote exercise in ironing out the series’ jittery intellect, clever character beats, and surprising body count for the masses. 

Here are our favorite characters from “Scream,” ranked from worst to best. 

Note: Spoilers follow for 2022’s “Scream” — proceed at your own risk!

14) Vincent

Vincent Schnider is part of the “sleazy Kyle Gallner canon,” which is comprised of unsavory roles played by the highly underrated Kyle Gallner and includes (but is not limited to) Simon in “Dinner In America” and Hansil in “Outsiders.” Sleazy Kyle Gallner is generally excellent, and “Scream” makes efficient use of that particular energy, setting him up as a brooding biker who dates teens before swiftly dispatching of them. Vince is an obvious red herring, but a highly enjoyable one. Dying to a Nick Cave song that was memorably synched in ’96 “Scream:” We love to see it!

That said, a quick demise really is all that defines poor Vincent. If anything, the casting of Gallner, who is way overqualified for bit-player status, is the role’s most notable trait, one that tricks you into thinking he’ll be around to menace the movie’s teenage heroes longer. That doesn’t just make him the worst character in “Scream” — it makes him the most disappointing version of Sleazy Kyle Gallner committed to the screen yet. 

13) Gail

Ok, hear me out: This is not a ranking for or evaluation of Gail Weathers in the entire “Scream” franchise. Gail Weathers is awesome. Gail Weathers once used a sound-booth to save herself from slaughter, which is an iconic and fiercely smart decision. But Gail Weathers, featured player in 2022’s “Scream,” is more iconography than intelligence. In fact, her arc embodies the worst parts of the “requel” formula Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s film takes shots at.

We learn almost nothing new about Gail Weathers during “Scream.” What little we do learn is through multiple exposition dumps about her and Dewey’s breakup, which spill out upon her hasty return to Woodsboro. And while Gail covering a murder in her old stomping grounds makes a modicum of sense, it’s less realized than the psychology which draws Sidney back. Ultimately, Gail comes to Westboro for the sake of plot, to see Dewey and, later, his corpse. But Dewey’s hysterical attempt to text Gail before she arrives in Westboro tells us volumes about the couple’s status. Withholding Gail’s arrival until Dewey’s passing would make her intentions cleaner and his loss more meaningful. 

While “Scream” shows us a Dewey made heroic and then defeated by Ghostface’s legacy, and a Sidney who offers comparison and contrast to a modern spin on final girls, Gail is (mostly) in “Scream” because she’s been in the other four films. The fans must have their way.

12) Wes

Oh, Wes. Wes, with your hair endearingly dyed the same platinum blonde as your mom, Deputy Judy’s. Wes, with your penchant for adolescent (but not psychopathic) brooding. Wes is a generally good, very modern guy played by the very modern heartthrob Dylan Minette of “13 Reasons Why,” and his casting exemplifies the storytelling approach of Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s “Scream” — hire a mix of well-knowns and unknowns, then kill both at random to keep fans on their toes. It’s a tactic that works, particularly where Wes and his mom are concerned. Their murder is a symphony of misdirections set during daylight hours, a sequence that makes the new “Scream” feel like a film that’s lighting the proverbial rulebook on fire. 

It’s also a scene that reduces Wes to mincemeat before he’s had much chance to thrive as a character. He’s effective insofar as his absence leaves a mark upon the story and one’s heart, but not so fully drawn that you could describe him in detail to your friends. If you described him as “Dylan Minette with platinum blonde hair,” you’d be forgiven. Farewell, Wes — as they say, we hardly knew you. 

11) LIv

Liv is a more interesting character than she appears at first glance. She has a healthy relationship with intimacy, but questionable taste in partners. Her rage gives way to genuine menace in a third act standoff with Mindy, a moment of anger so palpable it makes the extended absence she took during most of the film’s second act feel purposeful. Taken in tandem, they suggest her role hides surging depths beneath its surface. Of course the killer is Liv, you think. I never saw that coming. 

Sadly, she isn’t. Like her ex-hookup Vincent before her, Liv is a distraction. Her demeanor and predilection for PDA place her in lineage with Rose McGowan’s Tatum Riley, suggesting a set-piece showdown with Ghostface that never comes. Her missing whereabouts and the body count which follows them make her a solid suspect, but she’s dispatched in a nifty “Scream” homage before interrogating her character can come to fruition. As wonderfully played by Sonia Ben Ammar (in her debut role, no less), Liv is a fascinating cocktail of sex positivity and coiled tension. As realized by “Scream,” she’s just a suspect full-stop.

10) Billy Loomis

Billy Loomis is Sam and Sam is Billie Loomis. He is not a ghost who haunts his daughter, but one half of a dialogue she has with herself, an argument whose volume hits red-level highs when a deadly new Ghostface begins terrorizing Woodsboro. 

But the proverbial ghost of Billy Loomis has haunted Wes Craven’s franchise since it began. The reveal of Loomis and Stu Macher as dual Ghostfaces is one of cinema’s greatest twists, a plot point that flipped the horror genre on its head and deployed by a movie that mocked its conventions. There are few flexes like it (and it made 1996 one of the best “horror movie” years ever)

As such, every killer who’s followed since — from Roman Bridger to Richie Kirsch and Amber Freeman — has tried to fill his shoes. Billy being Ghostface is a reason “requels” exist, or at least why some fans tirelessly (and infuriatingly!) clamor for them. Having him preside over the “Scream” requel but then genuinely alter its plot and thematic action is one of the “Scream” creative team’s most winning masterstrokes. Billy is here to serve Sam and not the other way around. That’s exactly how a new “Scream” should function, and it makes Billy, ironically, one the film’s most endearing characters. 

9) Deputy Judy

Pope Pius XI was once quoted as saying “The family is more sacred than the state.” I wonder if he’d feel the same way after seeing the “Scream” films (or, more likely, declare them a sacrilege). In this franchise, family is a demon to be wrestled with, as in the cases of Sidney Prescott and multiple Loomises. It is a unit that can be torn apart by unspeakable and unforgettable terrors, as seen in the instance of the Beckers, or one that endears them, as in the case of the Meeks. For Deputy Judy in “Scream,” family is a lifeline that ultimately proves her undoing.

There are those who will call the swift dispatch of Deputy Judy cruel. I understand feeling that way. But highlighting that Judy was a Mom first and foremost only serves to retroactively enhance the decency she displayed in “Scream 4,” makes the values she fights for that much more resonant. “Scream” is interested in how parents do or don’t shape their children, either by blood or nurturing, and the fact that Judy raised a good child in Wes — only to die being a good parent — makes her one of the most haunting characters in 2022’s “Scream.”  Judy gave her all to the physical and emotional state of Woodsboro. In return, it gave her death. What’s truly sacred is up for question. 

8) Ritchie

Ritchie knows “Stab” in his bones. He understands its structure well enough to subvert, then recreate it in real life, right down to who lives and dies. Ritchie is willing to track, bed, and lure the daughter of Billy Loomis home so the original “Stab” gets a “requel” based on the murders he orchestrates. This means that Ritchie, beyond being bad to the bone, is a man who believes that cinema history belongs to him. He puts in on a pedestal. And when it doesn’t break his way, he rewrites it. 

No one uses the word “entitled” to describe Ritchie in this game — no one has to. It’s written all over his every action and revealed stance, the riptide undercurrent of his “Aw, shucks” facade. Ritchie decides he belongs, whether in Woodsboro or in fandom, and the world accepts, not seeing his genuinely toxic other half. He is an Internet troll and fandom cautionary tale rolled into one, a reminder that some of the more noxious people in the world can hide behind the real world itself, and that even the most innocent appearance may hide a wolf. Ritchie, thankfully, gets the movie he deserves, not the one he wants. That movie is 2022’s “Scream.”

7 & 6) Mindy & Chad

The Meeks-Martin twins surviving “Scream” is one of its loveliest grace notes, one that purposefully flies in the face of the “people of color get killed off early in slashers” trope and acknowledges that the characters themselves are a blast. Both personal and subversive, they’re as strong a reason to make a “Scream 6” as any.

There’s zero doubt that Mindy is already a fan favorite (partially because Jasmine Savoy Brown all but steals the film through her performance), possessed of all her uncle’s movie acumen but a brazen confidence all her own. That said, I’d argue that Chad is quietly the more fascinating character, a jock more concerned with survival than sex, with being brazen over being cool, and who deploys stupidity and savvy in equal measure in a tense face-off with Ghostface outside of Amber’s house. Where Mindy is an ecstatic riff on Randy, Chad is a chord all his own.

Regardless, the Horror Twins are among this installment’s most excellent creations, characters who will live on in the minds of fans no matter what happens with the franchise at large.

5) Amber

When there are two masked killers in a movie, it takes some mental gymnastics to unpack who actually murdered who. So it gives me no great pleasure to confirm that it was Amber Freeman who stabbed a knife into Dewey Riley’s back, who breaks his spine before whispering “it’s an honor” and taking his life. 

“It’s an honor.” When the trailer for “Scream” dropped and concluded with Ghostface uttering those words, it was the first hint that the killers’ intentions were miles removed from those who had come before them. And Amber, as it turns out, unhealthily pays tribute to the original legacy of Ghostface. She makes a murder scene of Sidney Prescott’s old home. She is reverent of the survivors and chooses to celebrate their memory by striking as many of them down as possible, gleefully even. And coupled with Amber’s terrifying predilection for playing the victim when faced with the consequences of her actions directly, her behavior reveals a particularly toxic strait of fandom — those who will clamor and terrorize others for what they want, only to shrug when those wants are realized. For Amber, the pursuit and thrill of the past is everything. The consequences of the present are far less important, even when they’re corpses. 

She’s a terrifying, fascinating character, and the “Scream” franchise deserves credit for birthing her. 

4) Sidney

Sidney is absolutely over “Scream.” 

She’s had it with Ghostfaces. She’s had it with being a woman in peril. Everything that Sidney does in 2022’s “Scream” is on her terms, from the reveal that she’s living in New York with a family to her decision, upon returning to Woodsboro, to go after Ghostface instead of getting chased. Sidney was the Final Girl, but she’s done being turned into one — it’s what makes the speed with which she moves through her own house during the film’s third act so hysterical and refreshing.

Sidney stands in contrast to Sam Carpenter, who starts and ends “Scream” with her own Final Girl journey; pairing them up as mentee and mentor would be an obvious and understandable decision. Yet Sam rejects Sidney’s wisdom and she, more notably, shrugs off that slight. Sidney must survive. She has no time to worry about feelings. 

Most importantly, Sidney is adjusted and living a normal life. Her existence isn’t defined by Ghostface until the constraints of a horror series demand that it is. She’s as good with a gun as one might expect for someone that’s been terrorized on no less than four separate occasions, but the film doesn’t paint her as John Wick’s successor, either. Sidney isn’t treated with reverence so much as respect, and her already excellent character grows as a result. Sidney might be done being in a “Scream” movie, but I am glad “Scream” wasn’t done with her. 

3) Sam

In the final moments of “Scream,” Sam (Melissa Barerra) approaches Sidney and Gail, who sit in the back of an ambulance. Her guard drops. She stares Sidney in the face and whispers five telling words: “Am I gonna be okay?”

It’s the question that’s haunted Sam for most of her life, long before she was attacked by a psychotic teen and the man she’s been sleeping with for six months. Sam is the daughter of Billy Loomis and is terrified of what that might entail. She’s worried she might become a killer. Her return to Woodsboro might be the catalyst for whatever darkness exists in her, that latent part of Billy, to rise up and dominate her psyche. 

It does for a moment, and — in one of the more astute psychological observations “Scream” doles out — saves her life in the process. “Scream” doesn’t caution against a person’s demons or parentage so much as it encourages (if not demands) dialogue with them. Unlike Ritchie and Amber, Sam has a healthy respect for the parts of her heart that keep her up at night. She wrestles with them. She fights their call. And then, when there is no other option, she leans in and stabs Richie in the neck. 

Sam is more than proof that the proverbial Final Girl will be okay. She’s a persuasive, charming, and vulnerable argument that even the most broken among us can find hope not by running away but by pushing through. 

2) Dewey

Dewey Freeman can’t let go.

When we meet Dewey in 2022’s “Scream,” he is holding onto the memories of him and Gail. His badge and gun, embodiments of his desire to do good for someone else once more, still sit in his apartment. And Dewey, who once learned and proved that you have to shoot the killer in the head when confronted with the chance, can’t let go of his chance to do so as he faces Ghostface in the hospital … and that gets Dewey killed. 

“Scream” concerns itself with how its characters and its audience process the past. If Ritchie and Amber represent the most noxious version of that dialogue, Dewey is the most realistic and endearing — a man haunted by his life decisions who clings to the faint belief that something better will manifest, even if it’s only in the form of what’s come before. He can’t move on. He deserves to move on. But there is an actual reckoning to be done in his life that even a blockbuster franchise can’t necessitate. So when Dewey dies because doing the right thing means honoring the same impulse which has held him back in life, it reveals the complicated and very good man fans have come to love with crystal clarity. It warns that getting more of what you want can have dire consequences. Most importantly, it both honors who Dewey was and cements who he was with love, not reverence. “Scream” lets go of Dewey. 

1) Tara

Anyone familiar with the original “Scream” will be whiplashed by the new installment’s first twist: Tara, seemingly a Casey Becker stand in, has survived the attack which opened the movie. The movie is so lucky she does.

Tara is the most complete character in “Scream,” new or old. She’s a horror enthusiast who’s a loyal but understandably wounded sister, a plucky survivor who regrets being doted on but has to overcome asthma, flesh wounds, and broken limbs in her attempt to survive the Ghostfaces. There has never been a character quite so resilient in the “Scream” franchise as Tara, nor one so versed in horror, or one who gets to be as angry or loving. Tara is a truly original creation, one who quickly transcends her role in the franchise’s legacy and, instead, becomes the kind of character we’d happily see in a movie that wasn’t horror. 

That’s a real achievement for a film filled with horror icons. And it makes Tara the best character in 2022’s “Scream.” 

Read this next: The 15 Best Final Girls In Horror Movies Ranked

The post The Best Characters in Scream, Ranked appeared first on /Film.


Source: Slash Film

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