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Review: Scream VI

March 8, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Scream VI is a direct sequel to last year’s quasi-reboot Scream, which served as a belated continuation of Wes Craven’s original slasher series and passed the torch to a new cast of characters.

Like last year’s “requel” (or whatever you want to call it), Scream VI is co-directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. They do a very good job of not only building upon their previous film but, for my money, improving upon it, delivering an incredibly fun meta-slasher that successfully uses the larger playground of New York City to its advantage.

After surviving the most recent Ghostface massacre in Woodsboro, Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) has now relocated to New York, so that she can be closer to her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), who is going to university in the city. They are joined by fellow survivors Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who now get dubbed the “core four.” 

But it’s hard to leave their past behind, especially with online “truthers” who believe that Samantha was the real killer. It’s not long before a new Ghostface killer emerges in the city, seemingly making his way towards Samantha. Courteney Cox is back as nosy reporter Gale Weathers, and Hayden Panettiere also returns to the franchise as Kirby Reed, first and last introduced in Scream 4. That’s all I will say, because part of the fun is watching this all unfold and seeing the many little reveals for yourself.

The story is bigger and the stakes are a little higher, because as horror fan Mindy points out over the obligatory meta monologue, they are no longer in a “requel;” now they are in a franchise. Throughout Scream VI, the filmmakers do a good job of setting up a trust no one, no one is safe situation, that keeps us engaged and trying to figure out who the real killer is, with a good deal of possible suspects. The two hour running time often flies by, with the film taking off like a shot right from the start and offering plenty of suspense.

The film embraces having an increasingly loopy backstory for us to keep up with, as it blends the double mythology of both Scream and the internal Stab movies. We get callbacks to all five prior films, as well as the various movies-within-the-movie, while screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick deliver a lot of enjoyable new twists. The franchise’s signature fake-outs and reveals start to pile up right from the start, with a great opening sequence featuring Samara Weaving and Tony Revolori that both plays into and subverts series expectations. It’s up there with Craven’s 1996 original Scream as one of the best opening scenes.

While last year’s reboot felt somewhat like it was mainly copying the beats of the first film, Scream VI is able to carve out more of its own identity by setting Ghostface loose in New York, while still allowing for the usual tropes we want out of a Scream film. The way that the filmmakers take full advantage of the new setting to do fun things like putting Ghostface in a bodega with a shotgun, or staging a genuinely creepy sequence on the subway with the lights flickering on an off, keeps it feeling fresh. This is also one of the goriest films in the franchise, with some gnarly stabbings and their aftermath, though the film still leans in to the slight campiness of the series.

Some of the twists do get a bit over the top as they pile up in the last act, and sure, it would be easy to get caught up in the implausibility of some of this. But it’s easier to just enjoy the incredible entertainment being offered by this meta slasher movie. It simply works as a fun, well-crafted thrill ride, that serves as a solid new addition to the Scream franchise.

L-r, Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”), Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”), Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Mindy Meeks-Martin”), Devyn Nekoda (“Anika Kayoko”) and Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”

Scream VI opens exclusively in theatres on March 10th.

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