Scream VI Review: A blood-soaked and deeply thrilling new outing for Ghostface

Directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin reinvigorated the Scream franchise with their requel last year by delving into new film meta-commentary and finding a great balance between old and new.  Now, they deliver a superb sequel that brings back the great cast of the previous film and puts them in a new environment to face the most vicious and daring Ghostface seen to date.

Scream VI features many firsts for the franchise that change things quite a bit. Not only is this entry the first time the series has gone to New York City, but it’s also the first time that franchise legend Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) isn’t involved. It’s a bummer that Sidney isn’t around for this entry, but honestly, it doesn’t really need her. The appearances of other franchise veterans like Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) still help tie together the legacy well. Plus, this Ghostface is much more focused on Sam (Melissa Barrera) and the events of the previous film, so her appearance wouldn’t feel warranted. Frankly, we get a great follow-up story for Sam and her friends that solidifies them as great leaders for this franchise.

Although Sam, her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), and their friends have moved to New York City to escape the horrific history of Woodsboro, a new Ghostface killer and their past has followed them. Once again, they’re ensnared into a deadly cat and mouse game and must figure out how to beat this Ghostface before they find themselves on this franchise’s cutting room floor.

Sam’s personal arc was one of the best elements of Scream (2022) and is excellently evolved here. Along with dealing with the personal strain of how things played out in the previous film, Sam faces lingering worries about history repeating itself and becoming like her father Billy (Skeet Ulrich). It’s really great how Sam’s narrative is never played safely here and that she directly acknowledges her feelings about feeling like her father. Sam talking about how it felt good to kill is incredibly unique and is elevated through more conversations she has with her father and the way the killers bring the past of the franchise into the present. Plus, the added elements of social media conspirators spinning the narrative and making her out to be a killer makes her arc as a survivor more complex.

Scream VI makes Sam a much more compelling character and it’s why she’s such a strong force to lead this franchise. Also, it helps that Barrera just continues to kill it in this performance bringing a sense of strength and genuine vulnerability that makes Sam so engaging and great. Her relationship with Tara also has an interesting evolution as well as Tara has a different feeling on being a survivor. Unlike Sam, Tara is ready to move past the past, but shows some unresolved feelings of her own that Ortega excellently displays. She understandably wants to try and move on in her life rather than live in the past but isn’t taking the time to really make sure she’s okay and it leads to her making hasty decisions.

Sam and Tara’s dynamic as sisters takes a great new form here as they deal with lingering feelings and attempt to get past this new killer. Even the way that Mindy (Jasmin Savoy-Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) are given bigger roles here shows why this group of characters makes this franchise’s reemergence so strong. Brown continues to be incredibly fun as Mindy with how she dishes out some meta-commentary and tries to guess the killer correctly this time around. Gooding is also great as Chad and with more screentime, he’s able to steal viewers’ hearts through some great comedic-relief and his insistence on them being the “Core Four.” Seriously, by the end you’ll want to save Chad at all costs. These four really bring a great energy to this film and give it a real heart that invests fans further into their story. Also, the new characters add to the great chemistry of the cast as well as the incredibly fun vision for this entry.

Gillett and Olpin really pull out all the stops for Scream VI and make it an incredibly fun and thrilling horror ride that provides some of the best sequences and kills of the franchise. When the trailers emphasized that this Ghostface was different than the rest, it was quite a statement to live up to. But somehow, Scream VI provides one of the most terrifying and vicious Ghostface killers to grace the screen. The kills are much gorier and the chase sequences are vastly scarier with the great tension built and incredible turns the film takes. There’s an amazing faceoff between Gale and Ghostface that fans will never forget, and the entire final battle is full of fantastic twists and turns. Also, there’s still a great light-heartedness that comes out through funny character interactions, hilarious surprises, and the ways this film pokes fun at itself.

Scream VI finds fun and interesting ways to subvert expectations and it pays off greatly in some genuinely surprising moments. From an opening that twists your mind in great ways to a subway scene that keeps viewers constantly guessing, Scream VI pulls off some wonderful surprises that make seeing Ghostface still running around feel immensely fresh. Plus, seeing legacy characters still involved is very satisfying and this entry really going through the franchise’s history to make it a really special experience for fans. It’s going to be impossible for fans not to obsess over seeing the killer’s lair and spot little easter eggs. Gillett and Olpin continue to make their Scream films a love letter to the franchise rather than a reinvention and it would really make Wes Craven proud.

The only places where Scream VI falters a bit is with its killers. Now, it’s not to say that the killers are bad or that their motivations aren’t interesting. It’s just that they don’t feel as strong and it’s mostly because they’re not tied to some big overarching meta-commentary. Rather, they’re tied to the events of the previous film and while it makes for a cool peek behind the curtain of a previous killer, it doesn’t feel as fitting to the franchise as a whole. Perhaps though, their disconnect with the meta-commentary is because it’s a little weaker this time around. The scene of Mindy talking about them being a part of franchise now and the rules that follow feels a little forced and a very generic dissection of modern franchises.

While some key aspects of the killers can be a little weak, Scream VI is easily one of the best entries in the franchise. It ups the ante on the scares, gore, and comedy to make for a deeply engaging thrill ride, and Sam’s personal arc evolves in a great way thanks to strong writing and a stellar performance by Barrera making her a memorably unique horror protagonist. Scream VI shows that the franchise is stronger than ever and continues to pay homage to the past while taking strong steps forward.


Watch the Trailer Here:

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