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  • Writer's pictureSaxon Whitehead

'Scream VI': Ghostface Takes on The Big Apple in Thrilling Yet Flawed Sequel


The self-awareness of the Scream franchise is one of its most defining features, and allows it to stand apart from other iconic horror mainstays. Each installment adapts its insightfulness on the slasher genre to fit current trends, from the original focusing on the genre as a whole, to 2022's Scream taking aim at legacy sequels or "requels" as the film refers to them. But with this being the sixth film in the series, it makes sense that it would want to go bigger, and tackle something more universal in modern cinema: franchises. In addition, the action moves from Woodsboro to New York City, widening the scope of the film to appropriately explore its commentary on modern franchises. In the process, Scream VI reckons with the legacy of its own franchise, and takes some major swings to up the stakes a bit. Not everything works, but it is still just as thrilling as its predecessors, and will undoubtedly please its longtime fans.


Picking up one year after the events of Scream (2022), the Carpenter sisters, Sam and Tara (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, respectively) have moved to New York City. Tara is enrolled in college, while Sam is attempting to lay low after the fallout of the Woodsboro killings. However, they find themselves once again targeted by a new killer, and must once again fight for their lives. With characters old and new alongside them, the sisters must try to survive, but this time, nobody is safe.


I was initially pretty high on Scream (2022), and while I still like that film, I have definitely cooled on it quite a bit. With Scream VI, I was worried it might be going way too big with its new setting and wider scope, but it mostly handles these well. I'd even argue that the film feels a bit more put-together than Scream (2022), even if it stumbles here and there. The screenwriters, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, build off what they brought to the table in Scream (2022) rather well, but they still lack that magic that Kevin Williamson had. I feel like they're a little warmer with this film than the last one, but there are some bold choices that just don't fully work here. The red herrings and misdirections work fairly well, but the big reveal in this film feels a bit underwhelming and frankly, kind of goofy. The first two acts are honestly quite solid, but the third act is a bit wonky, and takes some of the air out of the film as a whole. I appreciate the screenwriters making the choices they make in that third act, but some of them just didn't work for me.


The direction, on the other hand, does bring the film together a little more. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett had big shoes to fill by taking up the mantle of directing the franchise from Wes Craven, and while they don't completely fill them, they do an admirable job here. The sequences with Ghostface are quite intense, and the kills themselves are rather brutal and shocking. I would even argue that this might be the bloodiest Scream movie yet, which is really saying something when you look back at the previous films. A couple of the setpieces legitimately made me tense up and hold my breath. Specifically, one that involves a ladder was especially well used, and a scene in a bodega is also quite intense, and shows that the stakes have been raised quite nicely. They certainly take a few cues from Craven, but it does feel like their sensibilities are shining through a bit more.


I was a little concerned when it was announced that Neve Campbell would not be returning due to a salary dispute, as I wasn't sure what a Scream movie would be like without her. While she is certainly missed here, the film does still feel in line with the rest of the franchise, and allows it to explore new territory. I do hope that Campbell can reach an agreement for any future Scream films, but I am glad that her absence doesn't sink this film, either. It helps that we have two major legacy characters return for this one, those being Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). Cox herself is pretty much just doing the same ol', same ol' with her performance, but she does get a great scene that makes good use of her. As for Panettiere, I feel like the film doesn't always know what to do with her, but it is nice to see her take on this role once again. If nothing else, she does a decent job with what she's given, even if she is sidelined a little.


As for the newer characters, I'm a bit mixed on them. Jenna Ortega is great as always, but she feels minimized for the back half of the film. I get that Sam is more of the de facto lead than Tara, but Ortega's screen presence is just so compelling that I wish she had a little more to do here. Melissa Barrera is fine, but I have some of the same issues with her that I did in the last film. I feel like she doesn't have the right energy at times, and is a bit wooden as well. As for the rest of the gang, everyone is at least doing serviceable work. I really enjoyed Dermot Mulroney's performance, and I felt that Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown do some solid work, but they just aren't given all that much to do.


Scream VI is a rather flawed entry in the franchise, but is still just as fun and exciting as the previous films, too. I appreciate that the film takes some big swings, even if they don't always work, and the elements of the series that I love are still here and used quite well for the most part. It's the type of film that superfans will likely go wild for, but others might be left a bit colder by. I may have some quibbles with it, but I can't deny that it's still enjoyable, and has some killer moments.


Rating: 3.5/5

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