Just over a year after the 2022 ‘requel’ that revived the franchise and created a new wave of fans, the survivors of 2022’s Scream are once again stalked and hunted by a knife-wielding murderer, but this time it’s personal. The twist-filled, brutal, blood-soaked installment keeps the franchise as fresh as ever with a higher body count and gruesome kills, leaving you constantly guessing who is beneath the Ghostface mask that is out for revenge.
To quickly recap the events of last year’s film, Sam (Melissa Barrera) and her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) head to Woodsboro when Sam’s sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by a masked killer, who is targeting people related to the original film as their latest victims to create their own “Stab” movie. After losing Scream legend Dewey Riley (David Arquette), we eventually learn that the entire thing was concocted by Ritchie and Amber, Tara’s ex-girlfriend, who plan to pin everything on Sam. They, of course, fail and are killed, with Sam and Tara surviving, along with twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy-Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding).
Set a year later, Scream VI starts off with another iconic and bone-chilling opening scene (the best since Scream 2’s double kill in a movie theatre full of Stab fans) with a young film professor waiting for her date at a restaurant, who calls and says they are running late and are lost, and asks her to meet him outside. She soon meets her demise at the hands of Ghostface, quickly revealed to be one of her students (I’ll keep it spoiler free from here). The young killer is then contacted by another Ghostface who doesn’t deem them as worthy of carrying out the rest of their master plan, and kills them, leaving Sam’s ID at the crime scene to implicate her.
Sam, Tara, Mindy, and Chad (#CoreFour) have moved to New York City and are seeking a fresh start, with the latter three enrolled at Blackmore University in New York City, as Sam keeps a watchful eye on her friends while also attending therapy. Along with their friends, including new characters Ethan (Jack Champion), Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Quinn (Liana Liberato), Mindy determines that the group is now in the middle of a franchise, meaning that no one is safe and bets are off.
New York City serves as the backdrop for this film, only the second one to do so after Scream 3 moved to Hollywood, and it fits perfectly. If you think you’d be safe among a crowd, surrounded by people in a public space, think again. No one minds their own business like a New Yorker. This Ghostface doesn’t care if there are witnesses and it plays to their advantage that the events are set on Halloween weekend, the streets are filled with other masked partygoers, and even a few other Ghostfaces on the subway. After seeing the film, I was a bit uneasy hopping back on the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn. At least they didn’t release the film on Halloween. That might have been a bit too meta, even for Scream.
Standout performances go to the #CoreFour, particularly in rising scream queen Jenna Ortega who adds so much depth and vulnerability to her character, much like Neve Campbell did with Sydney Prescott nearly 25 years ago. Mason Gooding is as charming as ever as Chad and plays a great foil to onscreen twin sister Mindy, wonderfully played by Jasmin Savoy-Brown as the resident movie nerd, taking on the mantle from their uncle Randy. And of course, Roger L. Jackson is as terrifying as ever voicing Ghostface in every film since 1996. I cannot imagine Ghostface being remotely as terrifying if they were voiced by someone else. Also big shoutout to Hayden Panettiere for her reprisal of Scream 4 survivor Kirby, who is now with the FBI. Her sarcastic sense of humor and snarkiness was missed, and very needed.
Given the tons of fan service, Easter Eggs, and references from past Scream entries, I remain grateful that writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, along with directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin did not go the Halloween route by retconning previous films from the storyline. Otherwise, this film would not have the same plot. Scream VI builds upon the existing lore of the franchise while also keeping things fresh and expanding on what was already set up by iconic horror filmmaker Wes Craven throughout the first four films.
Fans were a bit upset when it was announced that Neve Campbell would not be returning as Sydney Prescott, but her absence is explained in the film and completely justified, and I’m actually glad that this is how it turned out. We can’t pass this franchise on to a new generation of characters if the OGs come in every film to save the day. Otherwise, it’s just more of the same and we can’t keep berating Hollywood to stop with the pandery sequels and reboots, but also have selective outrage about when they try to pass the torch to a new cast.
Scream VI is one of the best sequels in the franchise, arguably the best since Scream 2. It has a consistently terrific cast, a bloodthirsty Ghostface, plenty of its classic meta humor, and serves as a solid homage to the franchise as a whole.
Scream VI is in theatres now. Check out past reviews of movies and tv shows here.