‘Scream VI’ – Review

While Scream VI has an ambitious, visceral opening, the rest of the film fails to live up to the prologue. The film lacks the mystery of a whodunnit and becomes tiresome and shockingly dull as it repeats previous elements of the franchise. 

As a huge fan of the Scream franchise, the idea of getting new installments back-to-back these last two years was both exciting and nerve-wracking. While one of the best in the franchise, Scream 4, came out over a decade after the third installment, Scream (2022) felt it was a major departure from the series. Ghostface was in new hands, both literally and figuratively in the 2022 “requel,” but that film at least had Sidney (Neve Campbell) on board and felt it had a bit of an understanding even if it was bordering self-parody. In Scream VI, the self-awareness is gone, and the film is bogged down by over-explanation and zero stakes. 

Scream VI follows the Carpenter sisters a year after the events of the last film and they have now moved to New York City so Tara (Jenna Ortega) can attend college and Sam (Melissa Barrera) can attempt to keep her safe. The sisters, along with friends Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), have moved to leave behind their legacies in Woodsboro and have a fresh start in NYC. The Scream series always gives audiences an iconic opening sequence and Scream VI delivers there. The latest Ghostface installment flips the iconic opening on its head, giving audiences a promising start. Following the opening brutal murders of two classmates, the sheer appearance of a new Ghostface causes Sam to panic and want to get her and Tara out of New York. Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) reminds the girls they’re part of an investigation, keeping them – and the film – in New York. 

The “Core Four” keep Chad’s shy roommate lottery winner Ethan (Jack Champion) and the Carpenter sisters’ sex-positive roommate Quinn (Liana Liberato) in close quarters as Mindy explains the rules in this requel mean anyone new or old in the game is a suspect. As developments unfold with new characters, fan favorites Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and now FBI Agent Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) join in Scream VI to keep the film grounded in the universe. While it’s thrilling to have Kirby back in the universe, there is a Sidney Prescott-shaped hole in the film. Despite both Kirby and Gale having some of the best material to work with, it’s quite a weight for audiences to see the original characters side staged. 

Scream VI is more brutal and blood-filled than any previous installment in the series. The kills are visceral and feel more ruthless than before. While the graphic violence may not be too intense for the seasoned scary movie fan, the Scream franchise has never had kills feel so vicious before. However, victims get stabbed in the gut, knives dragged up their stomachs, and stabbed over 20 times yet continue to make jokes, pull themselves across ladders, and have conversations. Yes, this is common in horror films, but the Scream franchise has always felt the most drowned in realism out of the horror franchises and this felt like quite a retreat from previous installments. Once we get to actual kills, they feel wasted with no stakes behind them. The characters outside of the “Core Four” feel dispensable and that their only purpose is to be killed or suspected. Wes Craven’s four films in the franchise, even with new characters, had a weight to them because he made you interested in all of the characters. 

Being the daughter of original ‘Ghostface killer’ Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), Sam continues to deal with both suppressed urges of violence and anxieties around a society that doesn’t believe she is different than her father. The plot device of Sam having visions of her dead father feels too out of place for the franchise. It’s not used enough in Scream VI to feel necessary and just feels like a ploy to remind the audience that the Scream 2.0 characters are biologically connected to the originals. Themes about letting go are presented throughout the film, however nothing feels explored enough to have a lasting impact. Many horror films deal with themes of exploring trauma, but Scream VI presents the idea, but never looks into the trauma any of the “Core Four” suffer from, especially Sam. 

Scream VI always had a lot to live up to being part of an iconic franchise, but unfortunately the film can’t rise above a repetitive script and lack of fresh ideas. While the film has brutal kills and fan favorites, they feel wasted in the film. The killer’s lair feels as if it’s something a Scream super-fan came up with, yet Neve Campbell’s absence leaves something for longtime fans to miss. While Scream VI has an ambitious, visceral opening, the rest of the film fails to live up to the prologue. The film lacks the mystery of a whodunnit and becomes tiresome and shockingly dull as it repeats previous elements of the franchise.

Grade: C-

Oscars Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: None

Where to Watch: In Theaters

Kenzie Vanunu
she/her @kenzvanunu
Lives in LA with her husband, daughter and dog. Misses Arclight, loves iced vanilla coffees.
Favorite Director: Darren Aronofsky
Sign: Capricorn

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