It’s incredible how the Scream series has managed to stay relevant over the course of nearly three decades. Surpassing expectations film after film, here is a horror series that has gone from strength to strength – culminating in last year’s absolutely fantastic “requel” Scream.
Coming 11 years after Scream 4, Scream or Scream 5 was a box office and critical success. That success meant Scream VI was greenlit soon after, and just over a year later – we’re back in the cinema. Talk about a quick turnaround!
But has the franchise finally started to run out of steam? Or are we looking at the best Ghostface yet?
Four survivors of the 2022 Ghostface murders leave Woodsboro behind for a fresh start in New York City. However, they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when a new killer embarks on a bloody rampage.
The film hasn’t gotten off to the best start, with the very public fallout from Neve Campbell’s dissatisfaction in her pay offer and her subsequent refusal to start in the film. That’s the sort of negative press that can sink a sequel – especially given that Sidney Prescott has been the lifeblood of the franchise since its inception.
Thankfully however, the film doesn’t miss her as much as you would expect it to. And changing location to NYC (actually Montreal in Canada) was a masterstroke by scriptwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. This is Scream, but like you’ve never seen it before.
Scream VI starts with one of the series’ best opening sequences with Ready or Not star Samara Weaving, and it’s in this sequence that we realise that the Ghostfaces of old are long gone. This film is gruesome, violent and occasionally downright cruel to its characters – but it works in the grimy setting of the Big Apple.
This Ghostface is brutal – hacking, slashing and sometimes shooting their way through a cast of very well written characters. There are three standout sequences in the film, sadly all of which have been shown in the heavy marketing campaign. Thankfully however, they still manage to make a massive impact.
In particular, a claustrophobic grocery store plays host to a cat and mouse chase that has more than a whiff of Jurassic Park about it. Think of raptors in the kitchen, and you’re bang on the money. Another, on a packed subway train, utilises flickering lights to fantastic effect. The third, high above the NYC streets is edge of your seat stuff.
It’s also genuinely scary – not in the way a supernatural horror can give you chills, but it succeeds in creating a sense of tension and dread like no other recent slasher movie has. I’m looking at you Halloween Ends.
Scream has always been a franchise that has succeeded because of its main cast, and there were concerns that following the passing of Wes Craven, that would be lost. Directing company Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett) have pulled together a fantastic cast, most of whom return from last year’s Scream.
Sisters Sam and Tara (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega), and sister and brother Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) form the core four and it’s clear that the series is in a phase of passing the torch from the established legacy characters. Frankly, it’s a decision that works well – with the absence of Dewey and Sidney not causing as many problems as you would think. Only two legacy characters appear (alive at least): Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers and Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby. Cox in particular gets a lot more to do this time around, and features in one of the film’s best sequences.
The only fly in the ointment for Scream VI is a rather convoluted killer reveal, that pushes the boundaries of what we, as the audience, feel is actually believable. It about manages to pull the reveal off, but only just.
Overall, Scream VI is another solid entry and one which brings a fresh and unique vision to a series that could very easily start to feel old hat. Well-acted, smartly written and genuinely scary, it appears this franchise is still razor sharp.