Scream VI (2023) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Scream VI (2023) Review

Horrorific content by jessicagomez on April 22nd, 2023 | Movie Review | Slasher, Survival, Psychological, Thriller, Serial Killer, Teen, Meta, Stalker, Hollywood

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It's about the Woodsboro survivors moving to New York City and having to deal with Ghostface. Again.

Scream VI was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (Scream, Ready or Not, and Southbound) and Tyler Gillett (Scream, Ready or Not, and Southbound) and stars Courteney Cox (Scream 4, Scream 3, and Scream 2), Melissa Barrera (Bed Rest), Jenna Ortega (American Carnage, X, and Studio 666), Jasmin Savoy Brown (Sound of Violence), Mason Gooding (Fall), Hayden Panettiere (Scream 4), Dermot Mulroney (The Inhabitant, Umma, and The Blazing World), Jack Champion (The Night Sitter), Liana Liberato (The Beach House, Haunt, and Trust), and Devyn Nekoda.

Scream VI (2023) Review

In a world of seemingly endless horror franchises, most of us in the horror community have one franchise where we won’t miss any sequels. Scream is it for me - Scream 3 naysayers be damned. If a horror movie can be spooky and fun and gruesome and meta all at once, that accomplishment usually pays off, creating something that’s super watchable without boring the audience.

Scream established its own rules in the first film and continues to follow them in Scream VI. The script makes sure to remind you of basic horror movie rules, first through Randy and then, in V and VI, through his cousin Mindy. But it also follows an unspoken set of rules that we come to love and expect from the films: the opening scene is a kill scene, and it’s usually one of the best in the film. (Save for V breaking its own rule when Tara survives.) It also has the scariest impact, because we haven’t had any comic relief yet to break the tension, and we know from the prior films what’s coming. Horror movies are discussed. The killer calls their victims while using a voice-changer. There’s a whodunnit vibe where people point fingers at each other and the final girls don’t know who to trust. Gale Weathers is hungry for a story and guilt-tripped about it. The killers are seeking vengeance. The basic bullet points are the same, but we love to see it, because the writers keep bringing a fresh spin to old rules.

After sisters Sam and Tara escape from some overzealous Ghostface fans in V, they start anew at college in New York City. Siblings Chad and Mindy are also for some reason starting fresh in NYC, and Chad dubs their group the “Core Four”. Trauma bonding! I didn’t quite understand the need for a move out of Woodsboro when most of the characters are the same. Save for a subway interaction and a murder in an alley, the city didn’t lend much to the story. New York provided a grittier landscape, but part of what makes Scream scary is the remoteness and the small-town feel.

An exciting addition was the return of Hayden Penettiere’s character Kirby, one of the only survivors from IV. Her character becoming a detective due to her past experiences felt like a good arc for her, and her nod to her mental health struggles was ultra-meta. She and Detective Bailey, played by the always-lovable Dermot Mulroney, fed off each other as they both worked the case from different angles, and their distrust of each other was believable while humorous.

We learned in V that legacy characters are not off the table as potential victims, and unfortunately I did miss Dewey’s presence. The big to-do before filming was that Neve Campbell wouldn’t be joining. I didn’t miss Syd much, mainly because her role in V was more rooted in her connection to Gale than the new story. But had Gale not been part of this film, it would not have felt like a Scream movie to me, so although I do like the sibling duos, I hope that in future Scream films that we’re still seeing some original characters.

The lengthy opening scene was as surprising as it was brutal - we see a killer unmasked. We see what makes them tick and witness their delight in keeping Ghostface’s tradition alive. But what we think we know about the film antagonists, we don’t. Based on that opener in all its gruesome glory, I was expecting a higher kill count, especially when we see the killer reveal. Without giving things away, it’s reasonable to have expected more deaths. Some people made it out that for story’s sake probably shouldn’t have.

As always, a deep-rooted love for horror films is the compass, and even when the kills aren’t about movies, they are. As the would-be targets walk through the killer’s shrine in an old movie theater and step into the mind of a maniac, we take a meta tour through the notable moments that have shaped the franchise, from the TV on Stu’s head (is he gonna come back or what?) to the Stab movie memorabilia, to the old film sequences projected onto the walls that have been a mainstay in the franchise. The use of the original knife in the final act was a callback that I’m quite sure all fans appreciated.

The franchise continues to impress with an understanding of how to write complicated and imperfect heroines who happen to also be complete badasses when push comes to shove.

I wasn’t sure about Melissa Barrara as a leading lady after V, but she really stepped it up for VI and I grew to love her character. Are we setting up for Sam to give in to her homicidal tendencies that she inherited from her father Billy Loomis? She seemed to enjoy inflicting serious pain on the killers in a Dexter-esque way, so I kinda hope so. What if it turns out she’s actually the killer from the opening scene protecting herself from the film students, and the other kills are a totally separate thing?? Insert Wee-Bey gif. We’ve got ourselves a sequel, people!

Worth Watching? 

Scream 6 is a worthy film within the franchise and though not completely without issues, the spirit of Scream is alive and well. With the major success of this film - which is a bit remarkable for a 6th installment in a franchise - I am certain we will be awarded with a Scream VII.

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