At one point, Ghostface replies ‘Who gives a f*** about movies?’ before he slashes his victim, and there’s one scene where a character mutters ‘F*** this franchise’. These dialogues sure sound like Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett – the directing duo collectively known as Radio Silence behind last year’s better-than-expected requel – are having a field day bending the rules inside out and deconstructing the long-running ‘Scream’ franchise like no other.
Except ‘Scream VI’ ends up trying so hard but doesn’t deliver enough to justify the would-be ingenious way of keeping things fresh and unique. I’m not saying the movie is bad because it does contain plenty of worthwhile moments. Take the opening scene, for instance: It subverts my expectation, and I like how it is all seamlessly integrated, which leads to a bigger picture. It was undoubtedly one of the best opening scenes in the ‘Scream’ franchise that, combines great kills and crafty storytelling.
I’m also glad that ‘Scream VI’ moved away from the usual confines of Woodsboro town in favor of metropolitan New York City, and it was a refreshing change of location. Not to mention the idea of ‘Scream VI’ taking place around the Halloween season allows Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett a chance to evoke a sense of paranoia since anyone can wear a Ghostface costume and walk around the streets in plain sight. This, in turn, leads to one of the most gripping scenes in the movie: The crowded subway train filled with passengers donning Ghostface and other Halloween costumes.
The story, however, is a hit-or-miss affair: After the events of 2022’s ‘Scream,’ the Carpenter sisters – Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) along with their friends, Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) is now residing in New York City. But the masked serial killer is back just when they thought they could move past their traumatic experience dealing with Ghostface. Likewise, body counts start to pile up, and the four survivors have no choice but to find ways to survive another ordeal.
The movie also brings back fan-favorite Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), where we last saw her survive the massacre in ‘Scream 4’ and the sole OG character – Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers – returns as well. Too bad Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott, the heart and soul of the ‘Scream’ franchise since 1996, originally declined to return over salary issues. Not seeing her for the first time in a ‘Scream’ movie does take me a while to get used to it, even though the movie doesn’t ignore her existence completely since her name is mentioned anyway. Whether or not she will return in ‘Scream 7’ remains to be seen.
Back to ‘Scream VI,’ we see Sam is dealing with her mental health, and her therapist (Henry Czerny) worries about her condition. Tara, in the meantime, acts as if nothing has ever happened but grows fed up with her older sister being overprotective all the time. As in the ‘Scream’ franchise tradition, no follow-ups would be complete without introducing new characters. This includes Quinn (Liana Liberato) and Ethan (Jack Champion), who is Tara and Chad’s respective roommates.
Then, there is Mindy’s girlfriend, Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Sam’s secret boyfriend, Danny (Josh Segarra). Dermot Mulroney plays Detective Bailey, who investigates the new Ghostface killing spree in New York City. So, who is the killer this time around? Is it a copycat or someone from the past? Let’s just say the obligatory big reveal in the climactic third act isn’t much of a wow factor. Maybe it’s just me being jaded after learning the truth behind all the killing.
‘Scream VI’ doesn’t forget to be meta – one of the core elements that defined the franchise in the first place. We have Mindy once again talking about the rules of horror movies, sequels, legacy characters, and such, but it sounds like a rehash because it’s already been said and done in the previous movie. I’m not sure why Mindy must repeat herself again. The story also referenced the past ‘Scream’ movies — the kind that makes you go ‘Leonardo DiCaprio Pointing Meme’, particularly a scene that has to do with a certain electronic device.
The characters are a mixed bag that reminds me of the same problem that occurred in the previous movie. Some are good such as Jasmin Savoy Brown’s lively supporting turn. Still, Jenna Ortega, who made quite an impression last time around, is now relegated to a role of a younger sister who must give way for Melissa Barrera’s Sam, the older sister role more room to shine. Courteney Cox and Hayden Panettiere have their respective moments in their otherwise limited roles.
Although ‘Scream VI’ is far from being one of the best in the franchise, it remains a decent entry with the skills that are uncompromisingly bloodier and nastier.