Synopsis: The survivors of the Ghostface killings leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter in New York City, only to again be plagued by a streak of murders by a new killer.
Stars: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Running Length: 123 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: Despite winding up raking in a cool $140 million at the box office, the resurrection of the Scream franchise in January of 2022 was a regrettably sloppy affair. Although it was nice to see the return of OG cast members Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox, the three were primarily relegated to the sidelines until they either needed to be killed (RIP Dewey) or kick butt (the film’s most significant thrills were derived from Campbell’s iconic character demonstrating her final girl moxie). That left the bulk of the fifth installment to be carried by weak leads and a mediocre script laced with the kind of juvenile dialogue you’d overhear the next booth over at an Applebee’s.
That’s why I wasn’t hoping this sixth chapter would be anything better. Moved into production quickly and losing Campbell just as fast to a pay dispute, the newest round with Ghostface would find Cox the longest-surviving cast member. At the same time, fan-favorite Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby from Scream 4 would fill some of the nostalgia quotients Campbell vacated. Moving locations was another risk returning writers James Vanderbilt, and Guy Busick took, shifting coasts from the warm coast of Woodsboro, CA, to the shadowy streets of NYC.
It turns out that a change of scenery was the magic touch needed to kick Scream VI into the high gear necessary for a more aggressively entertaining entry than its predecessor. Almost from the beginning, you can feel a greater focus on developing the characters past the surface, making it mean something when they are dispatched through grueling and gruesome methods. As is often the case with sequels (according to Randy’s “rules”), the body count is higher, the production is more extensive, and anyone is fair game not to make it to the final credits.
Have no fear – the remainder of this review is spoiler-free and will only speak to the essential plot elements. I will assume you’ve seen 2022’s Scream, though. I would caution you to avoid any/all trailers released so far for this new installment. I went in completely blind to Scream VI, and I’m glad I did. Watching the trailers after the fact made me realize how many of the film’s surprising moments or interesting reveals are spoiled in advance, thanks to the marketing materials. If only studios would have more faith in their audiences and keep something hidden for paying customers!
A year after the horrific events in Woodsboro, sisters Samantha and Tara Carpenter and twins Chad and Mindy Meeks live in New York City while the twins and Tara attend Blackmore College. As Sam (Melissa Barrera, Carmen) deals with the knowledge of her link to original killer Billy Loomis and subsequent internet rumors regarding her involvement with the slayings, she remains protective over Tara (Jenna Ortega, X), who is just trying to hold down a typical college experience. A shocking set of murders disturbs whatever peace they seek, though, and soon their friend group is dwindling as a cunning killer dropping clues from the past slices their way closer and closer.
Clocking in as the longest Scream film to date gives directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (aka Radio Silence, responsible for the fun Ready or Not) more breathing room to let the movie’s first half build up the characters and interpersonal relationships more. That means when the violence does occur, it’s all the more shocking because it’s crashing through this continued healing the self-named Core Four are attempting to achieve. Thankfully, Sam and Tara’s new roommate Quinn (Liana Liberato, To the Stars) has an NYC cop (Dermot Mulroney, The Inhabitant) for a dad, and he teams up with FBI Agent and fellow Ghostface survivor Kirby Reed (Panettiere, Remember the Titans) to check out the potential killer.
The list of suspects is long…at least at the beginning. No sooner does Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sound of Violence) start taking a hard look at the potential killers than the natural process of elimination gets real bloody real quick. Stopping by to help out is legacy survivor Gale Weathers (Cox, You Cannot Kill David Arquette), now based in NY and eager to get to the bottom of who has started up another cycle of killings she is all too familiar with. Vanderbilt and Busick have several nice twists at the ready, keeping the viewer second-guessing whodunit it right up until the reveal, and it’s to everyone’s credit that the film has more than enough steam to keep the suspense high as it builds to a satisfying finale.
More than the previous three entries, Scream VI feels like a sequel that has matured dramatically from one installment to the next. It’s quite like Scream 2 in that regard (in several ways, actually), and perhaps that’s why I think Scream fans will respond to this one so well. There’s more emphasis on suspense here than violence, with a return to the nail-biting terror that served the first two Wes Craven-directed entries so well. I’m well aware this isn’t the last we’ll see of Ghostface, or these characters, so let’s hope this trilogy builds on the strong note Scream VI has struck.