Writer’s Note: There will be no spoilers posted in this review of Scream VI, so you can proceed to read my thoughts on this latest Scream movie without worrying about me ruining any aspect of your own viewing experience. Cheers!
After the success of last year’s “requel,” Scream VI has arrived to take this franchise to new storytelling heights, which is no easy feat when you consider what series we’re talking about here. But somehow, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (aka Radio Silence) have pulled off the impossible yet again with their latest entry in the Scream franchise. Not only does Scream VI successfully build upon the storytelling foundation established in last year’s Scream, but it also pushes some tried and true tropes in unexpected ways, provides the new Scream franchise players many opportunities to shine, and also features several jaw-dropping moments of brutality to boot.
Long story short, Scream VI is not only a worthy entry in this franchise, but it is also just a really exceedingly well-crafted modern slasher that can be appreciated for what it brings to the proverbial table by long-time Scream fans and series newcomers alike. It totally rules. Hard.
Scream VI follows Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) Carpenter to New York, as Tara is now attending Blackmore College alongside Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) Meeks, and her big sis comes along to keep tabs on her in the Big Apple. The quartet of Woodsboro survivors are doing their best to put what happened behind them – Tara is immersing herself in college life alongside her roommate Quinn, Mindy’s started dating classmate Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Chad brings along his slightly awkward roommate Ethan (Jack Champion) for all their group get-togethers. Sam’s had it the roughest though since last year’s Scream, as the internet has decided that she is the real Ghostface killer, and Sam’s become something of a social pariah for just trying to survive being brutally murdered.
But regardless of how bad Sam thinks she has it dealing with both online and real-life trolls, things are about to get so much worse for her and everyone in her circle once a new Ghostface emerges to terrorize and destroy them, all while playing by a new set of rules. Along for the Scream VI ride are Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), Laura Crane (Samara Weaving), Danny (Josh Segarra), as well as returning players Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox).
Anyone who knows me knows that the Scream franchise is something of a sacred cow for me, as it’s extremely hard for me to contain my fandom and I can definitely get a little “precious” whenever it comes to Wes’ first four films (it’s a fault of mine that I have come to accept). I will say that I do believe that the Scream series is in probably the best possible hands with both Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin steering the ship, as their immense storytelling talents are fully on display here, delivering up a downright chilling installment with Scream VI that is borderline genius work from both filmmakers. Not only do Radio Silence brilliantly highlight all the Scream films that have proceeded it in some extremely clever ways here, but Scream VI also breaks the mold (so to speak) in order to do something very unique all the same (even more so than they did in last year’s Scream, which is saying something).
Just to give you a little context to what I mean when I say this, without venturing into spoiler territory, about 10 seconds into Scream VI, Radio Silence has some fun subverting viewers’ expectations and then 10 minutes later, they do something in this sequel so audacious that I loudly exclaimed, “Holy shit” to myself while I was trying to determine if I was really seeing what I was seeing (I was loud enough that the critics sitting near me chuckled in response). I’m not trying to sound hyperbolic or anything, but yeah, I was totally unprepared for that moment and that’s when I realized that any expectation that I may have had going into that theater was completely irrelevant.
As far as Scream VI’s set pieces go, there is a lot (and I mean a lot to love) in this sequel. There’s the scene where Ghostface invades a bodega (lovingly named Abe’s Snake), the sequence on the train (which seriously, because the story is set around Halloween, is like a smorgasbord of awesomeness due to all the train riders’ costumes), and a location that comes into play in the sequel that truly feels like a cinematic geek-out come to life and fully-realized for all of us die-hard fans out there. There are several attack scenes in Scream VI that are downright chilling (but I don’t want to call them out specifically here, just to help maintain the element of surprise), and as far as the Ghostface attacks themselves go, the murderous assaults in this film set a new bar for viciousness in the franchise (shout out to the exceedingly talented special makeup effects team that worked on Scream VI – y’all killed it, literally).
It’s also worth mentioning that setting this story in New York City adds a lot to Scream VI overall, as the city becomes a menacing playground where you have no idea just where the danger could be coming at you from, and the NYC locale heightens the tension at play here in a truly exciting fashion that we’ve never really seen in a Scream movie before.
I am someone who genuinely loved Scream (2022), but I did have some minor quibbles with it in terms of some of the character stuff in particular. That being said, I feel like Scream VI does a great job of course-correcting that lack of character development by really giving audiences a chance to truly fall in love with Sam, Tara, Mindy and Chad here, and the actors truly shine in new ways here. Their group gets dubbed the “Core Four” at one point in Scream VI, and Barrera, Ortega, Gooding and Savoy Brown all get a ton of opportunities to shine in their respective roles. I liked all of them in Scream (2022), but it’s in Scream VI where I truly fell in love with these characters, and the script from James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick does a fantastic job of balancing out the shocking moments we have come to expect from a Scream movie, while taking the time to delve into enjoyable character-centric moments, which isn’t an easy balance to strike, especially when it comes to slashers.
If forced to nitpick, there are a few things about Scream VI that I didn’t wholly connect with (I’ll be discussing those elements in an upcoming episode of Corpse Club, once we can let loose with spoilers), but by and large, this sequel truly delivers everything you could want from a Scream movie and so much more than you could have ever even anticipated in the first place. Not only is Scream VI a fantastic follow-up that raises the bar for the Scream-iverse, but I also feel like it makes its immediate predecessor even better in retrospect. As a fan, I’m so very excited to watch this one again and again just so I can delve into all the intricate franchise hat tips and geeky details that are peppered throughout Scream VI from start to finish (this sequel truly feels like a love letter to the entire Scream series, which is totally rad). I came out of my initial viewing of Scream VI really, really liking it, but the longer I’ve sat with it, I feel comfortable saying now that I totally loved it. That’s not a typical experience for me, either, as I usually start to pick things apart at this point in the game.
Make no mistake, this latest Scream is a goddamn blast and the future of this franchise is bright with both Bettinell-Olpin and Gillett at the helm.
Movie Score: 4.5/5