With a change of location and brutal kills that make for the series' best, the sixth installment in the slasher franchise isn't perfect, but it's a lot of fun and an absolute screamer.
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Just over a year, fans of the long-running horror franchise "Scream" were delighted with the fifth installment after an 11-year gap. That could’ve easily been a tired sequel trying to regain the magic that the late Wes Craven created prior, but "Scream (2022)" managed to be a return-to-form since not only was the slasher sequel scary and nailed the point home in tackling the series of legacy sequels, it honored the director in a way he would’ve enjoyed the horror sequel featuring new and old characters. It looks as if returning directors Tyler Gillett & Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (aka Radio Silence) will match the success with "Scream VI."
After their terrifying experience of surviving what they went through in the town of Woodsboro the year prior, sisters Samantha and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega), along with twins Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown), are attempting to get a fresh start to their respective lives in New York City while attending Blackmore University. Their time of freedom comes to a halt as a new appearance of Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) terrorizes the city that never sleeps with some recent killings. Now the Core Four must navigate their way while figuring out the latest killer’s identity.
As a fan of the series, this was easily one of the most anticipated horror movies of the year. For me, if Ghostface asked me, “What’s your favorite scary movie,” the original "Scream" from 1996 is always the best answer. It's one of my favorite movies in general that still hold up, and I can watch it twice a year, especially around the Halloween season. That goes the same with the subsequent sequels in calling it my favorite horror franchise (minus the third installment) when it’s a classic deconstruction of the genre itself and satirizes the trend currently up for discussion. The last entry is the best sequel. No apologies because it’s the truth. The excitement of “Scream VI” was real to where I wanted to go into this about 85% cold, only watching the teaser and staying away from any potential leaks spreading around online.
Yet, given those sequels to horror films are sometimes hurried due to their low production costs, releasing one precisely 14 months after the first may have caused some concern. But, it's essential to remember that "Scream 2" entered development after the original one and became a smash hit despite the web leaks. It was only a matter of fact of where this will go in the future. But can we call this sequel to the requel, as Mindy called this latest situation, an all-time great? Not quite. I wouldn't call "Scream VI" perfect. But regardless, this will undoubtedly put a smile on fans' faces, including mine.
You have to appreciate how Radio Silence wanted to make this a darker and different Scream movie while keeping traits like comedy, tension, and meta in mind for this location change. The stakes must be high about who could live or die. You see Ghostface not messing around in the Big Apple, making sure the team won’t make the same mistake as "Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan," when the infamous killer spent the majority of screen time on a boat and probably had ten minutes setting foot in New York. The good news is this is WAY better than expected.
Even though we don’t have the original trio in here, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to get in tune with Sam, Tara, Chad, and Mindy, where they were established in the previous entry. Thanks to Chad, they call themselves “the Core Four,” You can’t help but love these characters more when their chemistry is nothing short of greatness to the point of wanting them to survive. Barrera’s performance as Sam is much better here than before, and she was excellent in that those with the slightest audacity of calling her a bad actress have no clue what they’re talking about. Sam is still struggling with the fact she’s the daughter of serial killer Billy Loomis, and she was first hailed a hero only for everyone believing she's the one behind the Woodsboro massacre led by conspiracy theories, not knowing if she’ll lose control and become just like him. I liked how they continued with that unexpected development in this.
I also love how Sam and Tara’s relationship as sisters is even stronger than last time, where Sam is being very protective of her younger half-sister, and Tara might not be adjusting to the events typically and needs some space in hopes of having an everyday life. When you’re attacked by a psycho obsessed with Ghostface, that will never disappear. Ortega continues to be one of the best young actresses working today, growing her character more as Tara. Plus, it's pretty crazy how big of an actress she has become in over a year. Jasmin Savoy-Brown knows how to be a scene-stealer once again as Mindy, who reminds me so much of her uncle Randy with some needed comic relief, especially when explaining a new set of rules of what’s to happen with them possibly, yet shows more fear than she has ever been. And Mason Gooding as Chad is quickly becoming another favorite, showing he’s more than just the jock.
There are, of course, the new additions added to the cast who could be potential candidates for who’s behind the recent killings: Ethan (Jack Champion, "Avatar: The Way of Water"), Quinn (Liana Liberato), her father Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), Anika (Devyn Nekoda), Danny (Josh Segarra), to name a few. The beauty of the whodunnit is that we never know who could be wielding the knife and wearing the mask and black cloak.
Just as people asked why Sylvester Stallone didn’t return as Rocky Balboa in "Creed III" recently, we must address the elephant in the room of not having Neve Campbell back as one of the greatest final girls of all, Sidney Prescott. Why they couldn't give the face of the series more money never made sense. You can tell he's missing, though. A few times, her name was mentioned, which explained why she couldn't be there to help them out and they moved along. Figuring out how she could fit into the story didn't come to mind throughout. However, we still have Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers and Hayden Panettiere reprising her role as Kirby Reed from "Scream 4." Did they have to be included since we’re focused on the other characters and not the legacies? Probably not, but it's nice to have them back and have a reason to be involved, especially when Kirby’s been a fan favorite. There's one interaction she shares with Mindy about their love of horror that I just found delightful. But Cox gives her best performance as Gale.
As for the bloody violence from the kills most came to see, it doesn’t disappoint in that aspect when building the incredible amount of tension, and it’s almost made even better by not entirely knowing who’ll get picked off. That's always been another beauty of the "Scream" franchise going along with the ultimate murder mystery. First, this series knows how to grab an audience's attention with an opening sequence to kick off the plot's events, and it dared to subvert your expectations to a significant effect that caught me off guard that was probably my favorite opening since the second. There are plenty of bodies hitting the floor of Ghostface picking off people one by one that was relentless, to say the least. Two moments, in particular, stood out: One of my favorites involved a ladder that was the most creative and a fight between Gale and Ghostface showed in the marketing.
I will say "Scream VI" was very close to almost beating out the fifth movie, but some things kept it away from doing that. More so than before, this was the first time I felt Kevin Williamson’s absence from screenwriting duties, returning screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick in having the central mystery intriguing at first, but kind of dwindles near the end. Because of that, it did make the third act kind of weak, especially when it's revealed who’s under the mask. Of course, I won’t dare spoil it, but despite still guessing every ten minutes, it was hard to tell if it worked for me without overthinking. There will be multiple discussions on how people will react to the finale. Still, with six movies that continue to subvert your expectations, I wanted to get a sequel that will get fans talking. And it got the job done.
As a longtime fan, "Scream VI" thrives on being different from its predecessor, making it a killer time. There are some issues with the story that didn’t get me to love it, but those who’ve been with this series from the beginning will expect a fun, unpredictable, and tense sequel with some of the most brutal kills in the franchise yet. There's nothin’ but love for the Core Four here. It's only a matter of time before they announce a potential seventh movie. Where it could go, I have no idea. But I’ll be here for it.