Just like old Ghostface, Scream doesn’t know when to stop: BRIAN VINER reviews Scream

Scream (18, 114 mins)

Rating:

Verdict: Not a bad stab at it 

Cow (12A, 94 mins)

Rating:

Verdict: Mooving documentary

Memoria (U, 136 mins)

Rating:

Verdict: Very odd and very slow

The producers of Scream, the latest in the slasher-movie franchise that began in 1996, can’t really be blamed for the timing of their film’s UK release — with knife crime among young people at alarming levels.

Nevertheless, the victims of the numerous frenzied slashings in Scream are mostly in their teens and 20s, and possibly the killer is too, although of course we don’t find out until the third act.

That swathes of the film are also played for laughs makes the timing all the more unfortunate. Maybe it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the real world. This is just entertainment, after all. But we shouldn’t discount the possibility that maybe it does matter.

The killer on the loose in the town of Woodsboro wears a mask inspired by the Edvard Munch painting The Scream

The killer on the loose in the town of Woodsboro wears a mask inspired by the Edvard Munch painting The Scream

The 1996 film was also called Scream and there are nods to it throughout, with Courteney Cox, Neve Campbell and David Arquette all reprising their original roles. Just like the original, only more so, this picture tries to stab its cake and eat it . . . sending up the slasher genre while enthusiastically embracing it with some very gory violence indeed.

Once again, the killer on the loose in the town of Woodsboro wears a mask inspired by the Edvard Munch painting The Scream. He (or she) is known as Ghostface, and her (or his) identity is the subject of repeated wink-wink references, with Arquette’s retired cop, Dewey, suggesting to the youngsters in Ghostface’s sights, and by extension to us, that it’s ‘always the love interest’.

Well in this case, the love interest is Richie (played by Jack Quaid, the son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid), whose girlfriend, Sam (Melissa Barrera) is hiding a family secret that may be responsible for the vicious knife attack on her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) that kicks off the story. Tara, incidentally, is a horror-movie fan, enabling the writers to work in cute mentions of The Babadook, The Witch, It Follows and Psycho.

It’s bold, reminding a chiller audience of superior chillers, but there seemed to be plenty of approval at the screening I attended and there’s no doubt that Scream unfolds with a confident swagger. That may be why it overplays all the self-referential irony. Like the killer himself (or herself), it just doesn’t know when to stop.

Not everyone will want to invest 94 minutes in this film, but those who do will understand why it ends how and when it does.

Not everyone will want to invest 94 minutes in this film, but those who do will understand why it ends how and when it does.

Andrea Arnold knows exactly where to stop Cow, her impressive feature-length documentary following, on a dairy farm somewhere in southern England, the life of a dairy cow named Luma as she gives birth, gets milked, chews the cud and finally dies. 

Not everyone will want to invest 94 minutes in this film, but those who do will understand why it ends how and when it does.

Arnold’s last film was 2016’s wonderful American Honey, since when she has directed episodes of the TV hit Big Little Lies. 

She evidently feels there are more than a few big little lies about the British dairy industry; her film has a clear vegan agenda.

But whether or not you buy into that, it’s a brilliantly-crafted documentary (made over four years) in which sound — mainly mooing, licking and chewing — is as important as spectacle. I got the impression that Arnold wouldn’t have minded smell to play a part, too. You’ll be grateful it doesn’t.

Sounds is the driving force in Memoria, an unsettlingly odd film by the Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton as Jessica, a British woman living in Colombia who is haunted by an occasional noise she is unable to source but describes as being like ‘a rumble from the core of the earth’.

Not much else happens, and what doesn’t happen fails to happen extremely slowly. I timed one scene, in which Jessica crosses a city square, shows vague interest in a stray dog and sits down by a tree. It lasts three whole minutes.

Others have rhapsodised about Memoria but I found it nigh-on impossible to engage with.

That said, the singular Swinton is perfectly cast and gives it her considerable all.

Sounds is the driving force in Memoria, an unsettlingly odd film by the Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton as Jessica, a British woman living in Colombia who is haunted by an occasional noise she is unable to source but describes as being like ¿a rumble from the core of the earth¿

Sounds is the driving force in Memoria, an unsettlingly odd film by the Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton as Jessica, a British woman living in Colombia who is haunted by an occasional noise she is unable to source but describes as being like ‘a rumble from the core of the earth’

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Just like old Ghostface, Scream doesn't know when to stop: BRIAN VINER reviews Scream 

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