Scream VI Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
New York, New Rules, New Ghostface! The playground is bigger & so are the stakes! This killer does not play around, blood is flowing savagely!
Genre: Horror / Mystery
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Cast: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Hayden Panettiere, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Champion, Josh Segarra, Courtney Cox & Skeet Ulrich.
Run Time: 123 min.
US Release: 10 March 2023
UK Release: 10 March 2023
German Release: 09 March 2023
New year, new Scream release… I can’t believe that this horror series is still going on strong for longer than anyone thought possible. In fact, I dare say that this franchise just might be the Mission: Impossible of slasher flicks! The trailers looked amazing, feeling completely different to the last five chapters, then news broke that Hayden Panettiere would return as Kirby; as such, I was counting down the days to the release. Question is, does the final product live up to the marketing? Well, put on your masks and let’s slash into my review for the all-new Scream VI!
WARNING: This review will contain some spoilers for Scream 5
The survivors of the latest Woodsboro massacre left the small town behind, trying to start fresh in New York City. Unfortunately for them, not even The Big Apple is able to hold back Ghostface, who returns more viciously than ever before.
The sixth instalment was officially greenlit by Spyglass Media Group in February 2022. The directing duo of Olpin and Gillett from Radio Silence, who directed the predecessor, were announced to return as directors, just like James Vanderbilt together with Guy Buick as writers. However, while Courtney Cox did sign up to return, Neve Campell declined, due to salary negotiations, marking the first film without the character of Sidney Prescott in it.
Without Sidney, the writing duo had to think outside the box, which gave them the chance to focus on the new characters. The character is mentioned, explained that she is safe and went into hiding with her family, which does feel organic. The “passing of the torch” scenario also feels right, given how the story had developed in the previous chapter. Then there is the incorporation of Panettier’s character Kirby, which doesn’t feel forced. Finally, the location change from a suburban small town to the big city is well utilised for a ‘whodunit’ slasher.
Beginning with the opening segment, audiences were treated to a welcomed change that brought a breath of freshness. Also, this isn’t simply the goriest part of the franchise, it is also the most anxiety-inducing part in the franchise, as tension is wound up and held for a couple of minutes. Then there is Ghostface himself, who is much more effective than in the previous instalments. Finally, this has a much better flow, than its predecessor.
As much of an improvement as this is, it still has a couple of issues. The biggest one is the final reveal of the killer(s). Though the motivation is understandable, it still is anticlimactic. It also seems as if without Neve Campbell, writers were scared to kill off any known characters.
My last nitpick concerns the dialogue because the meta-commentary went a little too far this time around. While in previous premises there was a discussion round, which included the viewer, here it feels more like spoon-feeding exposition.
Before I talk about Melissa Barrera’s role, including her performance, I wanted to advise that this part does include spoilers for the previous movie. Barrera upped her performance as Sam Carpenter, since her last appearance last year, making a solid impression of a serial killer survivor. It is amazing how they progressed with her character, now knowing that she is Billie Loomis' illegitimate daughter. I won't say more, to not spoil anything.
Jenna Ortega returns as Tara Carpenter, Sam’s younger sister, now a college freshman. Tara has a very different way to deal with the trauma, which creates conflict between her and her sister. Ortega is once again great, though it is the combination of Tara plus Sam that makes the premise work.
Courtney Cox is the only legacy character member to return. Gale Weathers falls back to her less favourable personality traits, yet proves that she is a damn good investigative journalist. Unfortunately, other than in one scene, she is pretty much sidelined. Hayden Panettiere’s return as Kirby is a welcomed sight, as she was THE standout character in Scre4m. I did like how they incorporated her into the story, it seemed natural!
Finally, Jasmin Savoy Brown returns as Mindy Meeks-Martin, as does Mason Gooding as Miny’s twin sibling Chad. Gooding gets much more screen time in this sequel, but it feels that he is just used as eye candy for some characters. Mindy, a horror fan lover, as well as Randy Meeks' niece, takes on the mantle of the horror geek, though her explanation of what to expect does not work as with Randy, possibly because she plays it too seriously.
The cinematography is pretty consistent throughout the complete series; once again light plus shadows are used to full effect, just like the inclusion of tight corners, passageways, or even a subway cart, to create a fright-inducing claustrophobic atmosphere. That said, it does mix things up, by letting sequences linger for moments, successfully amping up the anxiety. The use of specific angles helps with building scares and suspense. The shallow depth of field for specific segments creates a nearly ghostly villain in movement.
Effects look again practical, with the exception of a few VFX sections. Sketch Ulrich returns again as a mental projection of Billy Loomis using the actor with CG effects to make him younger, which is visible. The gore effects are turned up once more, making this the bloodiest, most violent, out of all the films in the series.
Verdict: It’s hard to wrap one's head around the fact that the Scream franchise has been going on strong for three decades. This fifth sequel brings new subtle changes, while keeping the main formula intact. It is funnier than its predecessor from last year, it also is still very meta, yet that factor felt more forced this time around. I love how the New York scenario is being utilised, even if it wasn’t filmed there. The way Kirby is brought back makes sense, but Gale is wasted. The biggest issue I had, is that it seems as if they were afraid to kill off established characters this time. However, when deaths occur they are more violent than anything seen before! The blood, as well as the gore, are amped up and it is a ton of fun! The cinematography is once again great, and the new leads make the whole premise work even without Sidney Prescott. I had a great time with Scream VI, which deserves an 8.0 out of 10.
So, do you agree with my review? Have you seen this newest chapter in the Scream franchise? Was it one of your most anticipated movies? Leave a comment & thank you for reading!