SCREAM VI (2023)
Neve Campbell-less sequel has previous installment survivors Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) and her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) leaving Woodsboro and heading to the Big Apple with fellow survivors Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown). A year after the last installment’s events and right in time for Halloween, bodies start falling again and a familiar voice begins making those fateful phone calls. Along with Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), who is now an FBI agent, they try to stop Ghostface one and for all.
Latest installment in this enduring slasher franchise is again directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett from a script by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. This is a brutal and vicious installment and actually works very well without Sydney Prescott’s involvement. The torch seems to rest fine in the hands of Tara and Sam, as does the refreshing change to the streets and subways of New York City. Setting it on Halloween is also a plus as now there are masked figures, especially Ghostface masks, everywhere. The kills are intense and nasty and this, along with a more 80s portrayal of NYC, with grimy streets, crowded subways and dark alleys, gives the film an even gritter edge. It’s an improvement over the so-so 2022 requel and does freshen up the franchise a bit even if the final act reveals aren’t quite as jaw dropping as we’d hoped. The violence is well rendered as always and is very intense although one feels that the trope of our heroes getting the upper hand on Ghostface then running away before finishing him off is getting really tiresome…understandably the movie would only be about a half hour long then if they did. At least Olpin and Gillett do have some fun with series expectations and relax the tiresome meta nonsense for a more straightforward slasher.
The cast is good here. Cox and Panettiere work well with the newer cast members, Panettiere especially with slipping back into the role of Kirby after 12 years. Her character’s explanation of why she became an FBI agent makes sense. Melissa Barrera again makes for a very strong lead as Sam, now dealing with the effects of the previous year’s attack and the savage internet fallout which paints Sam as the real villain. Rising star Jenna Ortega (X, Wednesday) gets far more to do here and is already a veteran in parts like this. Jasmin Savoy Brown is again fun as horror movie fan Mindy and Mason Gooding (Booksmart) is solid as Chad. Newcomers include Dermot Mulroney as Det. Bailey, Liana Liberato as his daughter and Tara and Sam’s roommate Quinn and Jack Champion as Chad’s roommate Ethan.
Overall, Scream VI doesn’t reinvent the franchise wheel but does freshen it up a bit with a new location, focusing more on the newer cast members and having a little fun with the franchise template. It’s also gritter and nastier than the last flick and delivers some brutal and intense scenes. The reveal could have had a bit more impact, but all in all Scream VI rates as one of the better sequels and shows the franchise still has some life in it yet.
Rated 3 (out of 4) Ghostfaces!