When a horror franchise takes a big swing, it could go either way. There’s the promise of a cunning and clever refresh, but also the pressure to get the next chapter right. No other horror franchise has managed to keep things as fun and intricate as Scream, and the latest installment Scream VI is no exception.
By taking the newest players in Woodsboro’s bloody history to New York City, the series gets sharper, smarter, and bloodier. This latest entry proves that the slasher classic might be one of the few horror properties that knows how to consistently improve upon its meta satire formula while taking audiences on a killer joy ride.
Scream VI picks up a few months after the events of last year’s reinvigoration, following the Carpenter sisters (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) as they try to pick up the pieces and start over in the Big Apple with the Meeks-Martin siblings (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding).
Tara, Mindy, and Chad are in college, trying to live their best college student lives and attempting to move past the events of the last movie. Sam is actively trying to face her trauma with a new psychiatrist and meds, but also by falling into the role of overprotective big sister.
The new kids aren’t the only ones who will have to outrun and outsmart Ghostface in this chapter, though. When the inevitable happens and a Ghostface killer emerges in the city and then begins threatening the Woodsboro natives, you know the drill; no one is safe, and everyone is a suspect. The killings bring back familiar faces, as well, with Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and FBI agent/Scream II alum Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettierre) drawn into the mystery.
Scream VI does the near-impossible by keeping a horror franchise that’s nearly 30 years old fresh with essentially the same concept. It’s a rare treat when a sequel can outdo, or even build upon the original. Six movies out from the first iconic installment, the series hasn’t run out of steam yet, and it knows how to speak to (and lovingly rag on) modern horror fans.
The opening sequence follows the classic formula, but also makes room for satirizing a specific kind of horror fan – callous, worshipful, insufferable nerds specifically — while also making its own influences and love for the genre clear. Sure, this installment’s Ghostface may say early on, “Who gives a fuck about movies?!,” but there are still plenty of Easter Eggs and affectionate nods that any sharp-eyed horror fan will catch instantly. This loving but teasing tone is what makes the franchise stand alone, and what makes Scream VI such a standout in its own right. It’s a tight line to walk, and the latest chapter makes it look effortless throughout.
It’s also worth noting the great performances on display here, too. Barrera and Ortega are given much more to do here than in the last installment, and it’s wonderful to see them at work. Barrera has a great screen presence, broadcasting the inner workings of Sam’s complicated nature with the glance of an eye or the curl of a smile. Ortega, who’s long since cemented her Scream Queen status, does similarly wondrous work here.
She plays Tara’s vulnerabilities and frustrations with the legacy of her family believably, subtly, and it never clashes with the satirical tones and turns the film takes. Brown is also great, back again as Mindy, a movie nerd who never feels insufferable or trite. In a film with a lot of ribbing and callbacks to rules and tropes of the genre, Brown finds a way to make Mindy endearing instead of unbearable.
It would be remiss to not mention the fantastic set pieces that shine throughout the movie, too. There’s plenty of stuff that’s worthy of a shudder in your seat moment, like a harrowing escape from Ghostface over a ladder with several stories below, or a showdown that unfolds in an abandoned theater.
There are also wild kills that feel much more brutal and bloody than the last film, which won’t be spoiled here, but are as memorable and visceral as any in the franchise’s history. Scream VI has pulled off the challenging feat of taking the franchise to the next level of greatness. The stakes, set pieces, and reveals are bigger and better than the last outing, and makes for a killer time. Come for the return of a beloved franchise, and stay for the wild ride.
The latest installment proves ‘Scream’ still has the chops to outdo itself consistently and cleverly. An effortless balance of dark comedy and intense set pieces make it worth checking out. Come for the return of a beloved franchise, and stay for a killer joy ride through New York City.
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