Our nostalgia for beloved properties from the ’90s is having its moment in the limelight, but the debut of two very different trailers shows both the potential and limitations of what that nostalgia can accomplish.
On Tuesday morning, we got our first look at Scream, which is the fifth film in the franchise (despite sharing the same name as the first) and the first new film since Scream 4 debuted in 2011. (A Scream TV anthology series also ran on MTV from 2015 to 2019.) As to be expected, the Scream nostalgia is upfront: The trailer directly homages the opening of the original Scream, in which Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) is prank-called and toyed with by Ghostface before she’s brutally stabbed. This time, it’s Jenna Ortega who’s caught home alone, but she initially doesn’t answer a phone call from an unknown number—and soon enough, her smart house fails her.
As Ghostface continues his reign of terror, three of the original Scream stars—Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, and David Arquette as Dewey Riley—show up to help stop a new generation of teens from being terrorized by Ghostface, who is apparently hunting down relatives of people who’ve previously donned Ghostface’s mask.
About an hour later, Disney+ dropped the first trailer for Home Sweet Home Alone, which is the sixth film in the franchise (and the first Home Alone movie in nearly a decade). The trailer shows us a good portion of the plot, which is essentially identical to the original Home Alone film: A young boy played by Jojo Rabbit’s Archie Yates is left in a giant house by himself by his family, who went to Tokyo for Christmas (instead of Paris) and will eventually have to defend the house from a pair of burglars played by Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney (versus Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) while his mother (Aisling Bea, versus Catherine O’Hara in the original) races to get home to him.
If it wasn’t for the brief presence of Devin Ratray reprising his role as Buzz McCallister, now a cop as noted by the “McCallister” nametag on his uniform, you could’ve argued that Disney+ was doing a full remake of the original film. (Macaulay Culkin will also reportedly make a cameo appearance.)
Online, one of these trailers garnered excitement while the other was skewered for how they leaned on the nostalgia factor for the original film in each respective franchise.
The Scream films are slasher movies about a masked killer who’s set his sights on a small town while the Home Alone movies are holiday family movies about a young kid left somewhere and made to fight off adult burglars. One sequel is putting its returning characters in the forefront while the other has one returning character in what might amount to a cameo role. One franchise has had luck with remixing its central story while the other, apart from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (the only other movie in the franchise to star Culkin), really hasn’t. And even the sequels have different targets: Scream is getting a theatrical release while Home Sweet Home Alone is a Disney+ exclusive.
Despite the difference in genre, tone, audience, and subject matter, the two sequels have something in common. They are both ostentatiously telling the same story over and over again, even if the core characters or the town where it’s happening change. And both benefit from that ’90s nostalgia, even if Home Alone has always been purposely rooted more in our childhoods and Scream was always targeted for an older audience.
Will these sequels be good, or will they fail to step out of their predecessors’ shadows? It’s too early to tell, and it’s probably somewhat hasty to judge those films solely based on their trailers. But if nothing else, we might be in for a weird few weeks of potential crossover promo.