SCREAM VI [Film Review]
Released: March 9, 2023
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Mason Gooding, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Jenna Ortega, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving with Hayden Panettiere and Courteney Cox.
“Do you like scary movies?”
I do, I lose my mind over them. Some are great, some are terrible, and some have been part of our lives through franchises, crossovers, reboots, requels, and other ways we ingest them on a daily basis. Upon reflection, the SCREAM franchise has played a significant part in my love for horror/slasher/who-dun-its for the better part of the past 26 years, and I still get giddy with excitement when a new addition is added to the canon.
FYI – this is a spoiler-free review, so read on…
SCREAM VI is yet another contribution to the series and I know what you’re thinking – “how can they keep bringing this story back, hasn’t it been done to death!?” To that, I say yes and no. Following the passing of OG director Wes Craven, newcomers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (2022’s SCREAM and 2019’s Ready or Not) stepped up to the plate to keep the intricate, intertwining story of Ghostface’s legacy alive; offering fans (both long term and fresh to the series) a new story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, guessing all the way until the end of the film’s third act – with plenty of smoke and mirrors (and blood, lots of blood) along the way.
The film follows our ‘Core Four’ survivors from the events of last year’s SCREAM (aka SCREAM 5 for those of you playing at home) with Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) heading away from the blood-soaked town of Woodsboro, in favour of the bright lights and spooky setting of New York City. But, as you guessed it, their past comes back to haunt them (yet again) when Ghostface reappears, hellbent on finishing what was started a year ago.
Like most of the meta-filled entries in this franchise, we’re met with your typical opening scene with a beautiful, helpless victim being slayed by good ol’ Ghostie – however, all is not what it seems by the time the title rolls around…
As the new and improved Scooby Squad settles into college life (yep, that’s a SCREAM 2 nod and there’s plenty more where that came from) bodies start piling up and public enemy #1 is the “New Sidney” herself, Sam. With references to the current state of cancel culture, and online pitchforking looming overhead, the Core Four (and their few, but at times superfluous friends) need to come to terms with yet another set of rules, this time, those associated with a franchise – in yet another clever tip-of-the-hat to SCREAM’s ongoing self-aware state – as mentioned in my initial write up of the trailer, this series KNOWS it’s a horror/slasher flick and the characters must do everything they can to observe the new rules, or end up like the unalived cast of the past.
New York, New Rules
Detective Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) is the new officer on the scene, joined by legacy cast members Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox), who is once again back to her old tricks, and returning ex-victim Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) who we last saw succumbing to the blade of Charlie Walker (from the SCREAM 4 era). Together, they must face off against a Ghostface like no other, who (as expected) slashes away through new and old faces – in some brutal and heinous ways – leaving this veteran gasping and clinging to the side of my cinema seat in many scenes.
One thing that fans found lacking in previous entries, was the thrilling chase scenes, which not only made their return for SCREAM VI, but also presented a new-age threat for the stars to navigate. Picture this, it’s New York City at Halloween. Everyone is in costumes (honouring countless horror movie icons throughout history), but, there’s a handful dressed as Ghostface – the question is, who is merely a harmless Stab fan, and who has other murderous intentions in mind? With that said, the gore factor is boosted with several scenes resulting in many cinema-goers jumping for their lives, cowering into their palms, or like me, laughing hysterically and cheering with each stab inflicted – because, you know, carnage candy.
As the film plays cat and mouse with protagonist Sam and her posse, clues are left at crime scenes that link back to previous films (a nod to SCREAM 3) but not as you think; proving this series really is as incestuous as we already knew, but is constantly evolving. By the climax of the infamous final act, some of you will be left with your mouths completely agape, or like me, feeling a little bit lacklustre with the payoff – however, it’s yet another exciting twist nonetheless and will have hardcore fans going back for more. Also, queer-representing character Mindy Meeks-Martin (Savoy Brown) once again steals the show with every scene she is in; acknowledging how the LBGTIQ+ community has taken these films under our wings and made them our own go-to escapism/coping mechanism of sorts.
I could say going into SCREAM VI with an open mind is a great place to start, but as I mentioned earlier, that opening scene will have you questioning everything you think you know walking into it, leaving you to actually enjoy the rest of the flick without preconceived expectations… Then again, you might find yourself playing out different scenarios in your head for the entire duration, but take this advice – sit back, relax and let the
blood movie soak in, in what is a fantastic contribution to the legacy that Wes Craven first shared with us way back in 1996.
Review by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
SCREAM VI is now showing in cinemas across Australia via Paramount Pictures.
Find tickets here.
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