Review | Scream VI (2023)
New York. New Rules. Ghostface is back in Scream VI. But can the masked slasher still cut it or is the film a cold corpse?
He’s back…again. After slicing his way to box office gold last January, Ghostface is back in his sixth movie. By now, you would have expected the killer to have run out of steam. He almost did in the tired Scream 4. But he’s risen once more to slice and dice anyone he feels like in Paramount Pictures’ Scream VI. But after six movies and a TV series, the question is, can Ghostface still cut it amongst the killer elite? Can he still be relevant after twenty-seven years? Or is he and the new movie a cold, dead corpse lying on the New York streets?
The film continues with the survivors of the latest Ghostface killings from Scream, sisters Samantha and Tara Carpenter, and twins Chad and Mindy Meeks, leaving Woodsboro behind and starting a new chapter of their lives in New York City only to again be plagued by a streak of murders by a new Ghostface killer.
You bet your ass he can still cut it! The film is a delight from start to finish. With its relevance still firmly intact, moving with the times, and with a great cast, we shouldn’t be worried. The referential humor, a firm staple of the franchise is here in droves. And fans should keep a sharp eye out for several things that will make them smile. The main one is the similarity with Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhatten. That movie even gets a few brilliant nods during proceedings, giving the film a playful and respectful tone at times.
But of course, we are here for the blood, guts, and violence. We are given them all by the bucket load. Ghostface (once again voiced by the terrific Roger L. Jackson) is at his most brutal here. They said this version of the character would be unlike anything we’ve seen before. By god, they weren’t kidding. Some of the deaths here are completely nasty and brutally extreme. This is the most violent, bloodthirsty Scream movie yet. But it is one of the best in the franchise. And the nods and throwbacks to the original movies and what has gone before it comes thick and fast. Fans will be nodding in appreciation during various points in the film.
The cast plays their roles really well. The returning Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin, and Mason Gooding as Chad Meeks-Martin, Mindy’s twin make us feel on safe ground from the start. Both are vital to the plot and the proceedings we will see. Josh Segarra as Danny, Jack Champion as Ethan, Liana Liberato as Quinn, Devyn Nekoda as Anika, and Dermot Mulroney as Bailey make for some welcome additions to the cast. Each of them moves the narrative forward, becoming vital pieces along the way. Samara Weaving as Laura makes a brief but important piece at the start of the film, one that sets the wheels turning once again as Ghostface makes his return.
The returning Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, and Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed are welcome once again. Of the pair, Hayden Panettiere gets the most screen time, becoming a vital cog in the movie’s machine along the way. We are reminded of her character from the fourth movie, and we even get an answer to the question of what happened to her by the climax. Fans will remember she was attacked and then vanished. But she returns here in a role that plays a big part in the proceedings.
Courtney Cox though is reduced to an extended cameo. But those who have seen the latest trailers know that she has a very close encounter with Ghostface once more. To make up for her lack of screen presence, the film allows her to get what could be the best one-liner and unexpected joke of the whole film. It is so simple but it is a winner. For years, I have been wondering if someone would do what she does in the movie. And finally, it happens and the film is much richer for it.
MELISSA BARRERA AND JENNA ORTEGA
The film belongs to the returning Melissa Barrera as Sam Carpenter, and Jenna Ortega as Tara Carpenter, Sam’s half-sister, as it should be. And both make for a brilliant pairing once more. Melissa Barrera’s Sam is a tortured soul, still reeling from the events of the last film, still experiencing thoughts about her real father. She is one part of the glue that holds the film together. And does a tremendous job throughout. We find ourselves looking closely at Sam all the way through. Could the events of the previous movie and the revelation of her real father have turned Sam into the new Ghostface? Is she the one responsible for this new, bloody rampage? Melissa Barrera gives a wonderful performance once again, making us feel for Sam just as we become to suspect her.
Jenna Ortega as Tara is the other part of the glue that makes the film so strong. Tara is now at college, far away from Woodsboro, and slightly estranged from Sam. Tara feels stifled by her sister trying to protect her at all times. Where Sam can’t forget the events previously, Tara just wants to get on with her life and move past the trauma. And this leads to a clash along the way. But Tara and sam are stronger together, a point that is emphasized during the movie. Jenna Ortega makes Tara extremely likable once again with a performance that has the audience rooting for her from the start. The closeness she shares with another character (no spoilers here) is the token romance but with a sweet touch.
THE WRITING, DIRECTION, MUSIC, AND LOOK
The screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick is spot on. Both know their Scream history and have written something that fits neatly and snugly into the franchise. They know what has gone before, what makes the franchise what it is, and have used this to come up with a script that is a winner from the start. However, sadly the reveal of Ghostface’s identity and their motive is slightly a bit too pat. It does connect events from the previous films well but feels a bit too simple. But IF there is a seventh film (of which I have no doubt there will be), it does have a plot thread that can be used as the base of the story.
The directing by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett fits the narrative like a glove. It is well-directed, nicely shot, and shows the events as they should be. Both directors have a keen eye when it comes to proceedings, and have made a film that will appeal to the masses. The look and design of the film are beyond reproach. The colors are vibrant, and New York (for the most part, in reality, Montreal, Canada, another nod to Friday The 13th Part 8, which was also filmed mainly away from New York), looks amazing.
The set designs are also a great part of the film, lending it an authentic look from the off. The score by Brian Tyler and Sven Faulconer is perfect for the film, recalling several cues from Marco Beltrami’s work on the franchise, and affords nods to the music that has gone before it while having its own identity. It has enough jump scares along the way that accentuates the movie to perfection.
Slasher fans will be in their element here. There is enough blood, gore, and violence to send them home completely sated. But non-slasher movie fans will also find a lot to like here. It helps in a big way if you’ve seen the fifth film, for various reasons, but if you haven’t, the events of that movie are explained to us. It most certainly isn’t for the squeamish as there are many shots and effects that may turn their stomachs. But with a movie carrying the name Scream, what did they expect? It isn’t high art or some romantic fluff, this is a proper slasher movie. And it does its job almost to perfection.
There is an after-credits stinger. And it is terrific. It only lasts for around five seconds or so but it ends the movie brilliantly. The sequence not only pokes fun at the modern movies that have stingers right at the death before the house lights go up but also pokes fun at those who have stayed behind just in case. It is unexpected but most welcome. As is the film itself. After being in the doldrums for so many years, Ghostface is back in the big time. Smart, clever, referential, and with a certain kind of fun, Scream VI will have people lining up around the block to see what they have come up with next.
Far from being a cold, dead corpse, the franchise has indeed had a much-needed injection of new blood that runs through its veins. And one that will keep the franchise energized for years to come. Grab your popcorn, take your seat, and prepare to scream once again.
Scream VI is out today in UK cinemas and will be released on March 10th in the U.S. courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Feel the Force on Social Media.
Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!