"Scream VI" Continues to do the Franchise Justice
The Scream franchise has long succeeded with its playfully meta humor, while also providing genuine thrills. But in our current era’s obsession with reboots (and the utter disappointment of the new Halloween films), it appears that no horror franchise is safe. Thankfully, watching Scream VI is a reminder that sometimes, there is worth in carrying the legacy on.
As the remaining characters from the successful 2022 Scream film move from the familiar streets of Woodsboro to the enormous landscape that is New York City, so does Ghostface. A new slew of murders and questions about who the killer must be leaves Sam (Melissa Barrera), Tara (Jenna Ortega), Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) fighting for their lives once again. Sam finds herself in the middle of a media crisis, with conspiracy theories framing her to be the real murderer. And if things couldn’t get worse for her, with even her closest friends beginning to question her true character, she continues to grapple with her own family legacy: Billy Loomis.
Right away, it’s clear that no one is safe this time. The stakes are higher, the deaths are more gruesome and the insults at Letterboxd film kids have never been more sharply laid out. Watching the main “Four Core” characters (as Chad dubs) stick together as their new realm of safety becomes their biggest nightmare is one of the more compelling aspects of this narrative. New characters Ethan (Jack Champion), Frankie (Andre Anthony) and Quinn (Liana Liberato) have their moments, but aren’t really a main draw due to how underdeveloped their respective characters feel.
Like the 2022 Scream, this sequel understands the crucial elements of what makes a Scream film tick, while also adding its own unique flavor of tongue-in-cheek moments and horror set-pieces to keep the story feeling updated. The idea of moving the setting to New York City was truly a brilliant choice and keeps it all from feeling like just another retread.
The film’s best scene is set on a subway, building toward a final climax where the killer is finally revealed. The use of flickering lights, eerie sound design to emphasize the screeching sound of the train and brilliant framing makes for a frightening and distorting sequence. Even the inevitable Ghostface jumpscare feels earned. What is a real shame, though, is that the film’s location wasn’t utilized even more. Many scenes are filmed inside buildings with only occasional glances at what the big city has to offer. The lack of outdoor chases feels like a missed opportunity, watering down the sprawling mystery.
Even with a slightly underwhelming killer reveal and some story choices that undercut the brutal tone (especially when compared to the 2022 Scream), the main cast really shines here. The bond between Sam and Tara is a strong emotional storyline, as Tara is one of the few people to stand by Sam every step of the way. The performances from Ortega and Barrera bring their connection to life beautifully. Barrera especially shines in the lead role as her character wrestles with the murderous legacy she was born into, and how that shapes other people’s perceptions of her. The return of Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) is also a welcome addition to the new cast, although more screen time could’ve fleshed out her character even more.
While the script does ultimately falter in not taking full advantage of its brand new location, the conclusion feels mostly satisfying. Chilling moments help raise the stakes and the character writing is even stronger this time around, making Scream VI another worthy addition to the Scream legacy. While the next installment hasn’t officially been greenlit, it’s a safe bet to say that we can expect a fresh face to don the Ghostface mask in the near future. And the possibilities for a new location are endless.