Scream VI (aka Scream 6) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Part of what made the Scream movies such a solid slasher franchise is the knowing nature of the genre. With the fifth Scream film, it felt like a bit of a repeat of new teenagers in a typical Ghostface murder case. Thankfully, Scream VI favors the traditional numbering convention and holds more confidence in developing its lore than the lore around horror movie conventions.
The setting shifts from the familiar suburban environment to the sprawling city of New York. The surviving characters hope to quickly place the last film's events behind them. Sam (Melissa Barrera) has much to recover from but hopes a therapist in New York can help her (spoilers: he can’t). She’s still concerned about her legacy and relation to the original Ghostface killer, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), who still haunts this franchise just as much as the voice of Roger L. Jackson for the Ghostface voice changing. This starkly contrasts with her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), who is trying to move on and have an everyday college life. Of course, she’s one of the key horror movie protagonists, so that’s not happening.
Sure enough, a new Ghostface killer emerges, but it’s not another angry horror movie fan this time. The film teases this aspect by setting up a similar copycat killer and immediately gutting that idea (literally). The stakes are higher for this horror film because there’s no apparent killer(s) and a motive that goes beyond keeping the franchise alive. The dark history of what leads to Sam being targeted is interwoven beautifully into highlighting the history of Scream itself beyond all the tropes. That being said, the film isn’t above having horror geek expert Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) trying to decipher what type of horror film they occupy.
In addition to Mason Gooding returning as the survivor Chad, some legacy characters are returning. Courtney Cox once more returns as Gale, the thirsty reporter who has grown so accustomed to covering Ghostface that she’s ready to take him on with a gun. Also present is Hayden Panettiere, back as Kirby, now an FBI agent with a vendetta for having been stabbed by another Ghostface. So when the classic Ghostface masks start popping up around New York City, something strange draws all the characters back to the past to solve the murder of the present.
The kills in this Scream entry are magnificent for being extreme, clever, and heartbreaking. Some highlights include a daring escape between apartments on a ladder, a shootout at a convenience store, and a vicious showdown in a Ghostface museum. The only thing more shocking than the heavy stabbings and blood on the screen is how many people survive these encounters. It all plays into the unpredictable dynamics of the picture, where even Mindy admits that this newly established franchise is up and running where anything can happen, and nobody is safe.
Scream VI has plenty of twists of the plot and twists of the knife to be such a juicy, slasher picture. It has plenty of confidence not to remain trapped in the past while still having fun with the genre its poking fun at all along the way. The cast looks like they’re having a blast, and it was easy enough for his veteran horror fan to be on the edge of his seat throughout. With this sixth entry, the Scream franchise still has plenty of gas left in its tank.