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Scream - The Deadfast Club/Devil’s Night - Review

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“‘Cause all there are now are remakes.” – Charlie Walker, “Scream 4”

After a scary long delay (the last episode aired on October 18, 2016!), MTV’s “Scream” series is back for a third season of murder and mayhem...except it’s on VH1. In addition to the new network for this burnoff binge event, there are new characters, a new setting, and a new storyline as the show has undergone a reboot. The tradeoff is that the original Ghostface costume and voice (Roger L. Jackson) are back in black. While I’m bummed there’ll be no closure on the Lakewood continuity (R.I.P. nuGhostface and my Troy James theory), I tried to go into these episodes with an open mind and I enjoyed them. So stick with me as I carve up “The Deadfast Club” and “Devil’s Night.”

Things start off in typical “Scream” fashion – a young blonde hanging out at home (this time, she’s being played by Paris Jackson, best known for a recurring role on “Star” and, you know, being Michael Jackson’s daughter) receives a creepy phone call from a stranger and then has a knife plunged into her by Ghostface. But the twist this time is that the Ghostface at her door is just a kid named Marcus, who’s trick-or-treating on Halloween and pranking her with a plastic blade. But the joke ends up being on him when he has his candy stolen by a bully and thrown into a scrapyard. Meeting up with his twin brother Deion, they try to get it back, but then Marcus is attacked and seemingly killed by “Hook Man,” a local boogeyman played by Tony Todd of “Final Destination.” It’s an interesting setup for what’s ahead that pulls in a lot of horror influences, like “Candyman” (which starred Todd as the titular slasher), “Prom Night,” and, of course, “Halloween.” And there’s something kinda iconic about the camera shot of a hook bloodily jutting through the Ghostface mask.

Jumping ahead eight years, we re-meet Deion (RJ Cyler, “Power Rangers”), now a senior and football star at Weaver High School and this tale’s take on Sidney Prescott. Deion’s on edge, not just because the anniversary of his brother’s death is approaching (and sidebar – a conversation Deion has with his mom (in a nice performance by “The Umbrella Academy” star Mary J. Blige) seems to indicate that he was under the care of mental health professionals at one point), but because of the pressure he’s putting on himself to impress a college scout in hopes of escaping all his ghosts by escaping College Park, Georgia. And that’s all before he starts being terrorized by a masked killer. After a day of escalating spooks and sightings, Deion gets a classic call from Ghostface. He announces his attention to “carve away at Deion Elliot,” to expose him for the selfish hypocrite he is (there’s also a great line where Ghostface describes his costume as armor).

To start with, he sends Deion to a silent disco where, in a creepy visual, the room is full of Ghostfaces swaying to music we can’t hear (it definitely feels like, now that they have the rights to the mask, the show is going to use the hell out of it lol). Once there, Ghostface makes him confess his “deepest, darkest secret” to a select group of his classmates on threat of murdering one of them. And so he does, revealing that the night his brother was killed, he ran off in fear instead of trying to save him. While the understandable actions of a frightened child, it’s clear this choice weighs on Deion, and that Ghostface holds a grudge.

Throughout the episode, we’re also introduced to the other members of the titular club, a nickname based on banter they have about “The Breakfast Club” when they all wind up in detention together. There’s Kym (Keke Palmer, an alum of the similarly themed “Scream Queens”), an outspoken activist from the wrong side of the tracks. Her gay BFF is Manny (Giullian Yao Gioiello, “Iron Fist”), a shy kid who just wants to survive high school so he can go to college and truly be himself. There’s also Amir (C.J. Wallace of “Notorious”), who’s caught between his own desires and his parents’ expectations. He has a crush on Beth (Giorgia Whigham, “13 Reasons Why”), a goth with body piercings and a piercing wit who also turns out to be a bit of a Randy Meeks when it comes to horror. Finally, there’s Liv (Jessica Sula, “Recovery Road”), the new girl in town who catches Deion’s eye, but who clearly has secrets of her own.

What’s interesting is that these disparate teens are not really friends, with each other or with Deion, and on the surface, don’t have any connection to what happened to Marcus. So I’m curious to see how that mystery unravels over the course of the season. But Ghostface makes it clear they’re all on his hit list when “The Deadfast Club” ends with them getting a group text instructing them to “show me your insides...or you’re next!” “We’re in a horror movie,” Beth exclaims, further noting that they’re “not the types of characters to make it to the end.”

Sliding into “Devil’s Night,” Kym is slightly more central in this second hour. The cold open finds her raiding a Redbox for horror movies to study up on. She’s midway through the Rob Zombie “Halloween” remake when she gets a call from Ghostface. It’s trademark “Scream” as he taunts her over the phone and then tricks her into going outside. Kym manages to escape when he attacks, but a neighbor who had hit on her when she got home has been turned “into a Pez dispenser.”

This encounter lights a fire under Kym and, the next day at school, she steamrolls over Beth’s attempts to explain the rules of surviving a horror movie and insists they go “straight at the killers.” And she soon has a suspect in mind – Shane (Tyler Posey, “Teen Wolf”). A local drug dealer, Shane saw them all in detention, invited them to the party, and was handing out the Ghostface costumes. With Deion busy with a boring football-related subplot, the rest of the kids set a (rather convoluted) trap for Shane at the school. But when they question him, he reveals that he also got the “show me your insides” text. And that’s when Ghostface gets on the PA system to announce that “slash is now in session.”

From there, a lot of scary movie mistakes are made as the group splits up, promises each other they’ll be right back, etc. The killer manages to corner Kym, whose tough-as-nails exterior cracks as she admits she’s scared. Shane comes to her rescue with a gun, but when he hesitates in pulling the trigger despite Kym’s protests (“His face is white, he’ll be out in no time trying to kill us again!”), Ghostface gets away. And it’s a fatal mistake for Shane as, having been exposed as a “coward” (and we also see in a quick scene that his drug dealing was a means to an end to help his sick grandmother), he’s later overpowered by Ghostface and given a lethal overdose.

Meanwhile, Liv had stayed home from school that day on orders from her overprotective police officer father (portrayed by another “Teen Wolf” alum, Gideon Emery). When he goes off to work, she snoops around on his computer and what she finds is a potential bombshell – according to the official report, Marcus’ body was never recovered the night he was supposedly murdered. So what if, Liv theorizes, Marcus didn’t die and is now out for revenge? Deion refuses to consider this possibility at first. But when he goes back to the school to try and help the others and stumbles across Ghostface, the killer makes the same hand gesture Marcus made on Halloween night. So a shaken Deion is forced to concede to Liv that it could be Marcus behind the mask.

So besides an unmurdered Marcus, who else is on the suspects list? In addition to Shane, these episodes dispatch two other red herrings. First, there’s Tommy Jenkins, a.k.a. TJ (played by Internet personality Nash Grier), the bully who stole Marcus’ candy that fateful night. In a pretty nifty kill, Ghostface sneaks into the backseat of his rideshare car, punctures his neck, and then suffocates him with a plastic bag. And then there’s Avery (Patrick Johnson, “Extant”), a douchey football jock who antagonizes Deion, Liv, and Beth before he ends up impaled on a piece of rebar at the silent disco.

Of the living, one character who’s an obvious suspect is Jamal (Tyga, “Boo! A Madea Halloween”). Deion’s older half-brother through their absentee father, it’s clear the siblings have a tense relationship, and Jamal would be privy to family secrets he could use against Deion. Speaking of family secrets, I’m pretty sure Liv’s dad has one so I’ve got my eye on him too. And lastly, it’s worth noting that, while the Breakfast Club had five members, the Deadfast Club has six. So Ghostface could easily be a mole among them, as they all have suspicious moments in these episodes (Amir shows back up at the silent disco after Deion sent him away, Manny pulls a Billy Loomis right after Ghostface attacks Kym, Liv is the only one not involved in the slashfest at the school, etc.).

So what did you think of the rebooted “Scream?” Will you join “The Deadfast Club” on this “Devil’s Night” journey? Share any and all thoughts you scare up in the comments section.

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