The first film in the franchise Panic was hit theaters in the year 1996. Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and directed by the legendary Wes Craven (in The nightmare time), Panic breathed new life into the horror genre slasher in its time, combining it with doses of humor and an intelligent metalinguistic game to put the clichés of the genre in perspective, becoming a huge success worldwide. As is common in the movie industry, its massive success spawned a franchise (with sequels from 1997, 2000, and 2011, and now this one from 2022). As is also common in franchises, the reception to the sequels was not as warm as the original. Although the second was still received with some enthusiasm, the third already showed some audience (and critics) fatigue with the formula, while the attempt to resume the franchise in 2011 also performed below the producers' expectations. Now, in 2022, a time when it seems like the entertainment world is constantly bouncing back to the 90s and early 2000s, there's a new attempt to revitalize the franchise (this time, without Wes Craven). Did she succeed?
We are again in the city of Woodsboro, scene of the massacres perpetrated by the assassins who used the legendary mask of the ghostface. And again, this mask is being used by a murderer who is chasing a group of young people. We are on familiar ground for fans of the franchise, something that is made even more emphasized by the presence of classic characters from the franchise such as Dewey Riley (now retired as a Woodsboro police officer), Gale Weathers (still the journalist and writer who would have achieved success with her book about events in the small town) and of course, Sidney Prescott (which seems to have finally overcome its past), here serving as support for the new protagonists. To further reinforce this relationship with the past, all new teenagers have some connection, even if tenuous, with the crimes that took place in the previous films in the franchise (something that is not far from improbable, after all, Woodsboro is a small town…).
Perhaps one might think that the film is just a repetition of a formula that has already been repeated over and over again, but that's exactly what it's about. Panic It has always been: to use this typical horror/suspense formula and put it in perspective, which always ends up generating moments of tension and humor. That is, it is precisely what fans of the series Panic like. But unlike the other films in the franchise (with the exception of the first two), here there is some enthusiasm and care in reworking this concept, yielding much better results than the third and fourth films. But more than that, every idea is not only reworked, but also updated quite competently, making Panic dialogue not only with typical horror movie elements, but with current cinema (including even the genre known as “post-horror” in this game), with the franchise itself and its fans (with some dialogue that seems to come straight from forums) from Internet). It is practically impossible not to identify some of the situations exposed in the film (and not have fun with them).
At this moment, when blockbusters seem to look more and more to the recent past (thanks to nostalgia and the affective memories of the currently predominant economically active generation), it is difficult not to make associations with other releases and wonder if this is not the case. a trend that will solidify. In the end, Spider-Man: No Return Home embraced its past to satisfy its fans, while Matrix: Resurrections put it into perspective to deconstruct some of the franchise's key ideas and recreate it in a new context. But in the case of Panic, this is a question that still allows doubts, since this tonic has always existed in their films, they have always brought the discussion about the clichés of terror. What the last work does is mainly update this perspective, in addition to expanding it a little to encompass fans and its own franchise, but it's nothing that really departs from the approach that has existed since the first release in 1996.
Technically, the film is competent in its proposal, knowing how to balance humor and tension well (although the humorous and acid side is more present now). It's nothing revolutionary, but it's not meant to be either. It's supposed to be a new franchise movie Panic and the feature fulfills this requirement with praise, being certainly better than the third and fourth films, and probably surpasses the second as well. The former remains unbeatable, perhaps just for being the start of it all, since, on a cold analysis, the latter film doesn't lag that far behind it either. The performances are competent, the young cast is convincing (with highlights for the charismatic duo of protagonists Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega), the veterans are completely comfortable back in their roles. And for the rest, everything you expect is there. Scares, tension, extremely violent deaths and references to the clichés of genre films. Like Panic always did. And maybe your fans aren't asking for anything more than that.