The long-awaited third season of MTV’s Scream debuts under a revised miniseries moniker and new channel (Scream: Resurrection and VH1, respectively), but the issues that plagued the first two seasons remain a killer problem.
Scream has never worked as a television series.
When MTV debuted a serialized ten episode season back in 2015, it seemed like the only hope for the property to exist in the wake of the failure of the fourth film (itself a troubled production). Fans were wary about the series’ lack of connective tissue to the films and concerned about the liberties taken with Ghostface’s signature mask. Throw in a convoluted and overly melodramatic plot, unlikeable characters, and wooden acting (step through Willa Fitzgerald!), and the series was a failure.
A second season was ordered, then a wrap-up film (arguably the best of the bunch because the writers weren’t required to streeeeetch the action out across ten hours), but the qualities that felt so fresh in the films were wholly absent.
After a protracted delay due to Weinstein-related litigation, the developed-for-MTV-but-debuting-on-VH1 Scream: Resurrection drops today the the first of three nights of double episodes (I’ve seen all six, but I am embargo’d from speaking about more than the first two hours…for now).
Part of what is meant to distinguish this new iteration is a nearly all black cast and crew, which includes Me and Earl and the Dying Girl‘s RJ Cycler, Scream Queens‘ Keke Palmer, Skins‘ Jessica Sula, The Punisher‘s Giorgia Whigham, Teen Wolf‘s Tyler Posey, plus musicians Mary J. Blige and Tyga and a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from Paris Jackson. Resurrection also restores the original Ghostface mask, as well as voice actor Roger L. Jackson.
Unfortunately the series’ potential dies early on. After a brief and pointless opening scene featuring approximately 1 minute of Jackson and no scares (she doesn’t even die!), the action follows young trick’r’treating brothers Deion and Marcus Elliot. The pair wander into a dangerous situation in a car lot involving an unhinged man (Tony Todd in a better, but similarly brief, cameo) wherein Marcus is murdered. Or is he?
At its core, this sequence is emblematic of Scream: Resurrection‘s problems. The new series mimics the structure and format of its predecessors, but the execution, the wit, the playfulness and, yes, the scares, are all lacking. It’s a paint by numbers attempt to replicate the strategies that made the films so successful, minus the capacity to deliver.
The action jumps ahead 6 years to follow Deion (Cycler), a high school student and football player in Atlanta. After an altercation with the team quarterback, Deion and love interest Liv (Sula) wind up in detention with a group of horror stereotypes – the Goth (Whigham’s Beth), the Geek (Christopher Jordan Wallace’s Amir), the Activist (Palmer’s Kym) and her Gay BFF (Giullian Yao Gioiello’s Manny). Beth quickly dubs the group the DeadFast Club in the first of many failed and obvious attempts at metatextual relevancy.
It’s not long thereafter that the first body drops: an Uber driver whose throat is slit so that the bag over his head can fill with blood (a murder that not only fails to surprise, but is identical to a kill in Netflix’s far superior Slasher: Solstice). Naturally this death goes unreferenced for two episodes. Deion and the others are too preoccupied with threatening text messages admonishing them to reveal their secrets, seemingly lumping them together despite the fact that none of them actually know each other. Also: because they’re warned that “snitches get killed” NO ONE tell their parents or go to the police, which is the first of many completely ludicrous and unbelievable activities that this group of stereotypes participate in.
These plot points might be more tolerable if the acting or writing were any good, but they’re not. The dialogue is awkward and stilted, the pacing is unbearable (never have 44 min episodes felt so long…or interchangeable with one another) and the scenarios are laughably ludicrous. A potentially exciting set piece in the second hour, wherein the group is trapped alone in the school with the killer after hours, is handled so poorly by two characters that it is hard not to actively root for Ghostface (never “the killer”) to murder all of these fools.
Of the teen actors, Palmer (the most experienced of the bunch) fares best, though the performance takes at least the first episode to level off into something approaching tolerability. Whigham is also pretty solid, which is surprising consider that her role as the “Randy” of the group renders the vast majority of her dialogue insufferable (take a drink each time she mentions being in a horror film). Cycler and Sula, meanwhile, are boring (call it the curse of being a protagonist), while Manny exists solely as an accessory for Kym. The less said about Jordan Wallace and Tyga’s acting, the better.
At its core, this is little more than a capitalist attempt to bilk Scream fans. But this isn’t Scream. Hell, it’s not even Scream the TV series. This is a new low: a boring cosplay version of Every.Single.Element that fans find so endearing about the Ghostface franchise. Resurrection proves to be an apt title, in this regard; this is the reanimated corpse of a franchise that sadly expired in 2011 and has been living on fumes via audience goodwill and corporate greed ever since.
If nothing else, Scream: Resurrection has accomplished something that I never thought possible: it has helped me to appreciate the first two seasons of the show. I hated the first season of the show so much that I named it the 5th worst show of the year back in 2016. Thanks to Resurrection, it now looks positively palatable!
There is a way to deliver an addictive and fun “killer on the loose” television series, but this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a slasher series that actually delivers character work, solid pacing and GREAT kills, I’ll point you towards Netflix’s Slasher (particularly S3) instead. As for Resurrection, the only time you’ll likely hear reference to this in the future again is when critics raise it from the dead for their year end “Worst Of” lists.
My advice: don’t waste your time. Don’t give this series the satisfaction of your time (and, by proxy, your money). And if you consider yourself a fan, be vocal and demand better. Because we deserve more than these lacklustre TV series entries.
Episodes 1 & 2: 1.5/5
Whole series: 1/5
Scream: Resurrection airs episodes 1 & 2 on Monday, July 8; episodes 3 & 4 on Tuesday, July 9; and episodes 5 & 6 on Wednesday, July 10 (9-11 pm EST).
For more thoughts, check out Trace Thurman’s review on Bloody Disgusting. Then keep an eye out for his post-finale reaction and my piece on Consequence of Sound about where the franchise can go from here.