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Monday, May 20, 2024

Scream 6 Review

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This is a spoiler-free review of Scream VI, which releases in theaters March 15, 2023.


“Rebootquels will continue until morale improves” would be a great opener to this review, but I regret to inform the naysayers that morale is quite high and RadioSilence’s continuation of the Scream franchise is still going strong. In fact, it’s even better than Scream (2022) — which I gave a 9/10 for breathing life back into the franchise — though, there is one slight pitfall that keeps the sixth entry from achieving the elusive 10. But, while it is the Sidney Prescott of it all, it’s not what you think.

Part of what made Scream (2022) so successful was that it took the old, the new, and built the perfect foundation for a story that could continue without its original final girl (a task many horror franchises have tried and mostly failed). Scream 6 capitalizes on that, focusing on the return of Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and fan-favorite Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) as the legacies, and letting the “new” cast do its thing. The problem isn’t the absence of Neve Campbell’s Sidney, though. It’s that said absence is explained in a throwaway line that’s about as well delivered as it was written. Writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick nail it when it comes to everything else in this new chapter, but that particular explanation was handled about as well as Neve’s contract negotiations.

Sid’s absence does play into the overall theme of the film, though. Scream has always been about subverting horror tropes and playing in a space that both mocks and reveres its genre in equal measure. That continues in Scream 6, but this time it’s not about tackling horror as a whole. This time it’s full meta, and the butt of the joke is Scream itself. You’ll see plenty of shoutouts to your horror favorites both old and new sprinkled throughout the movie (you already saw plenty of them in the trailer alone), and none of the self-exploration feels over-the-top or like it’s making a mockery of Wes Craven’s legacy. Instead, it’s simply having a laugh at the tropes that the franchise itself has helped create in its own right after nearly 30 years and six entries. Some of the rules apply, but others? Others no longer matter at all. And are you going to have a blast learning which rule fits where.

The Core Four™ take more of a beating than the original three ever did, and there’s never any real way of knowing who will manage to limp their way to the closing credits. 


Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) delivers her now customary monologue to give you a few hints on those rules. It’s a little redundant, mirroring Scream (2022) more than any other moment in the new film, but effective all the same. We’re not going to get into the nitty gritty of that monologue, but one thing the young Meeks-Martin highlights is that the gore must be amplified in a rebootquels’ sequel, and boy is it ever! The hits (stabs) just keep on coming, and no one is safe. The Core Four™ take more of a beating than the original three ever did, and there’s never any real way of knowing who will manage to limp their way to the closing credits.

The heart and soul of Scream 6 is that aforementioned Core Four (made up of the Meeks-Martin twins and the Carpenter sisters). This chapter very intentionally ditches the standard Scream trope of splitting up its protagonists between movies to have them come together at the end of the first act and instead focuses on a story that keeps the survivors connected the whole time. This doesn’t just lead to you caring more about the main characters, but the people they love as well. Mindy’s only known her girlfriend Anika (Devyn Nekoda) for six months, but you’re concerned about her safety because you’re worried about a member of the Core Four’s wellbeing. The same can be said for Danny (Josh Segarra), Quinn (Liana Liberto) and Ethan (Jack Champion), but you’ll have to check out the movie to learn more about their connections to our leads!

Scream 6 delivers with its secondary characters more than any franchise entry before it, as a matter of fact. And while some of the praise belongs to the closeness the writers give us to the Core Four, a not insignificant amount of the credit needs to go to the aforementioned actors. We’ve always loved Sid, Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale, but gone are the Mickeys (Timothy Olyphant) and Dereks (Jerry O’Connell) of Scream 2. It’d be a joy to see any of these players show their faces again in Scream 7, even if some are, well… quite dead.

While the character-driven story of Scream 6 is the primary reason for its success, it’s far from the only one. Some of the set pieces in this chapter will take your breath away, whether it’s the immaculate representation of an unbearably claustrophobic subway car or the jarring illustration of a person’s obsession in the Stab trophy room. Hell, even the confined space of Sam and Tara’s (Jenna Ortega) cramped apartment will get you in the New York state of mind (even if the film was shot in Montreal). Brett Jutkiewicz’s cinematography doesn’t disappoint, either. There are several scenes in the third act that marry the beautiful and the macabre in very exciting ways. This is especially true of the trophy room. Just the gift that keeps on giving, that!

Verdict

Emotions and brutality are at an all-time high in Scream 6, setting it up to be the best sequel in the franchise yet. Though it does ultimately fumble the reason for Sidney Prescott’s absence, RadioSilence has officially proven that there’s a future for the franchise with or without its original final girl by giving us strong connections to the new Core Four.

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