Ghostface is ready for new blood in a new city as the slasher franchise trades in small-town Woodsboro for The Big Apple. But as the newbies step in to take over from the characters of the past, it successfully carries the torch in some regard, but Scream VI doesn’t quite cut so deep when it comes to bringing the series in a new direction.
After surviving the Ghostface attacks the year prior, Tara (Jenna Ortega) has started a new life at college in New York City with friends Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), and big sis Sam (Melissa Barrera) close by. While Sam is still processing the previous events and the revelation that serial killer Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) is her father, Tara has moved on.
As people continue to theorize online that Sam is the real Woodsboro killer, a few recent murders thrust her into the suspect chair. As a new Ghostface begins to taunt the group, they will discover someone has begun to idolize the Ghostfaces of the past.
The Scream series has long been a staple in my house. While nothing can match the iconic and groundbreaking first, the films that have followed have all been thrilling to watch, as they aim to dissect current horror cinema in its unique meta way — yes, even Scream 3 fits the bill.
After the passing of beloved director Wes Craven, and with creator/screenwriter Kevin Williamson stepping into an Executive Producer role instead, the current filmmakers at the helm were able to capture the essence of the franchise in Scream (2022) to fans’ delight.
Swiftly following the previous installment, Scream VI does its best to try something new, sometimes succeeding. Writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick have proven they can balance the terrifying elements with the dark comedy aspects that make the series so endearing. The quippy dialogue that breaks the severity of certain scenes into near-fourth-wall-breaking moments makes it all the more fun.
This balance is so integral and what allows the franchise to hit its meta-commentary in fresh ways and have longevity — even though this new film is the weakest with its meta-ness.
Scream VI does something interesting in its first act, subverting expectations in a way I had hoped to see the franchise try at some point. But this subtle departure from the formula is fairly short-lived.
First, let’s talk about the new setting. Promised to place Ghostface in a landscape we’ve never seen before, yet the foreboding character of NYC is so underutilized. Aside from the bodega and subway scene, both are heavily featured in promos, but not much else is offered. So much emphasis is put on “new city, new rules”, but what are the new rules exactly?
It recoils back to what we’ve seen before, underwhelming in the third act. I won’t dive into spoilers, but the reveal is somewhat obvious and redundant to a previous Scream killer reveal. Sure, if you’re going for the whole “requel” thing, it makes some sense, but the convoluted nature of it all makes it so underserving.
There are elements to Scream VI that work, but also a lot that’s not quite living up to their potential. I wanted to see the film do something exciting with the shrine aspect and make it feel like there were higher stakes going forward. But it was rather weak in the end.
The franchise does have something special with the new cast of survivors from the previous installment, lovingly named the Core Four in this film. Their development is much stronger, but the new supporting cast is entirely forgettable.
And as a film series so valued because of its legacy characters, it was weird to have this be the first film in the franchise without Dewey or Sidney; only Courteney Cox‘s Gale Weathers is back. It’s even more disheartening that Neve Campbell is not back because they didn’t find her valuable enough to pay her properly. It was nice to have the much-anticipated return of Kirby (Hayden Panettiere), even though it didn’t feel like they really knew what to do with her.
Scream VI is fine. Ghostface is such a strong immortal villain, and the characters of Sam, Tara, Mindy, and Chad are finding their footing nicely. But the third act is just not as eventful as it needed to be. There are some fun moments in the final “killer v survivor” battle, but otherwise, the third act is underwhelming.
Would I rank it higher than Scream 3? Of course. Higher than the fourth film? Probably. But where was the “I’m something different” uttered in the trailer? There’s just so much left to be desired by the final reveal.
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