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Scream VI Review

March 10, 2023 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Scream VI - Ghostface, Scream VII Image Credit: Paramount Pictures
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Scream VI Review  

Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Written By: James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick; Based on the characters created by Kevin Williamson
Runtime: 125 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Melissa Barrera – Sam Carpenter
Jenna Ortega – Tara Carpenter
Mason Gooding – Chad Meeks-Martin
Jasmin Savoy Brown – Mindy Meeks-Martin
Courtney Cox – Gale Weathers
Hayden Panettiere – Kirby Reed
Dermot Mulroney – Detective Bailey
Liana Liberato – Quinn Bailey
Jack Champion – Ethan
Josh Segarra – Danny Martin
Tony Revolori – Jason Carvey
Samara Weaving – Lauren Crane
Henry Czerny – Dr. Christopher Stone

Just over 26 years after the franchise first debuted, the iconic slasher franchise, Scream, reaches its sixth big-screen installment with Scream VI. While the fifth film omitted numbers, the franchise returns to a numbering system with here. Scream VI is probably one of the more ambitious installments in the series, and it’s not devoid of some entertaining moments. However, with the fifth film, the franchise began to look long in the tooth, and that hasn’t changed in this film.

Scream VI opens with an interesting twist to the franchise’s opening kill scene. The prologue sequence is bold and inspires hope that the film series has finally found some fresh new ideas. Unfortunately, Scream VI fails to live up to the prologue’s promise and goes downhill from there on out.

Picking up a number of months after the previous film’s events, the Carpenter sisters, Sam (Barrera) and Tara (Ortega), have moved to New York City. Tara now attends college at the same university as other friends and survivors from the last movie, siblings Chad (Gooding) and Mindy (Savoy Brown). Tara is getting anxious and stir-crazy due to Sam’s overprotective behavior and watchful eye. Meanwhile, Sam has some pressing issues of her own. Sam remains haunted by the memories of her past. Additionally, she’s enduring harassment from trolls on social media who claim she was responsible for the Ghostface murder spree in the last film.
Unfortunately for the Carpenters, a new Ghostface is in town, and this Ghostface holds a personal vendetta against Sam, making all of her friends targets of the latest knife-wielding maniac.

A trademark of any Scream movie is that the film is part-whodunnit, part slasher horror, and part comedy. All those narrative aspects are present in Scream VI, but the whodunnit portion has never been as clunky as in Scream VI. Multiple moments blatantly telegraph the answer to the mystery midway through the film, making it too obvious. One performance element, in particular, was unintentionally laughable, and not in a good way. The way in which the franchise repeats previous elements is becoming tiresome and monotonous. The central mystery grows increasingly convoluted and absurd once the major reveals emerge. The big reveals of Scream VI are shockingly predictable and progressively dull.

The film’s best moments largely come from the cast members and seeing new cast members interacting with legacy character Gale Weathers, the only franchise OG to make a return here (besides Ghostface VA Roger Jackson). Kirby Reed (Panettiere) from Scream 4 also returns in this film, and her scenes were enjoyable, especially her interaction with Mindy. Unfortunately, although Reed has become an FBI agent with specific expertise in Ghostface cases, she’s not exactly a competent one. While the film has a lame-duck script, Jenna Ortega’s undeniable talent and charisma shine throughout the film. The franchise undeniably lucked out with Ortega’s casting as her stardom grows. Ortega outperforms many of the veterans in this film.

Neve Campbell’s absence is felt and creates a sense of ambivalence. Campbell is very much the face of this franchise. However, it’s probably for the best that Sidney doesn’t get involved in this nonsense anymore, and her character is at least written out of the story in a graceful manner.

One of the lesser aspects of the narrative is a subplot from the last movie that really should have been jettisoned, involving Sam Carpenter seeing the ghost of her late father Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). It was a goofy plot device the last time out, and that continues to be the case. The main character hallucinating the ghost of her serial killer father is simply a touch too far for this series.

The filmmakers still deliver copious amounts of horror blood and gore, but even that peaks midway through the film. The subway sequence looks good and is executed creatively. Despite the shoddy narrative, filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett stage some intriguing, compelling sequences.

Viewer mileage may vary on the entertainment value of Scream VI. Even with Neve Campbell’s absence, there is probably enough to please longtime fans for the sixth installment. However, Scream VI proves to be a franchise that rests on its laurels and is spinning its wheels.

The final score: review Poor
The 411
While Scream VI opens with a strong start, the film fails to maintain that level of quality through the rest of the viewing experience. The script stretches the repetitive tropes of this franchise to their breaking point. The best moments come from the legacy characters interacting with the newer characters, but the script lacks fresh ideas. In terms of the humor, horror slasher thrills, and the mix of characters, there is still likely enough to satisfy horror aficionados and longtime fans. Unfortunately, Scream and Ghostface are iconic, but this sequel is not.