Ghostface has never been this menacing. Scream 6 is an absolute banger of a thriller, kicking things up quite a few notches from the previous films, with franchise-best set-pieces that make every frame ridiculously delightful.
Last year’s requel injected some much-needed energy with its new, younger cast, and in Scream 6, they’re finally given the main spotlight. While I liked Scream 5’s use of legacy characters (especially Dewy, RIP Dewy), it’s been getting a little ridiculous to keep bringing back those characters, and franchise lead Neve Campbell’s absence this time is not a detractor. This lets us spend more time with the young cast, particularly Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, who have their own charm and ambitions.
A few months removed from the events of Scream 5, the film picks up on the troubled relationship between the Carpenter sisters, who’ve now moved on to college in the Big Apple. Samantha (Barrera) is still reeling from the events in Woodsboro. At the same time, Tara has decided to start moving on, which naturally pits her against the elder sister, making for some nice drama with several layers.
Of course, peace doesn’t last long as a new Ghostface starts slicing new targets leaving a trail of clues, or “easter eggs”, keeping in line with the meta-commentary, leading back to the original film. This new Ghostface is way, way more menacing than any other, instantly resorting to extreme measures of violence.
The Scream franchise has become infamous for its special cold opens, and Scream 6 has one for the ages. Playfully subverting our expectations of its tropes, the new opening instantly satirizes and subverts the rules it has set out in the past. It’s just the right balance of playful and horrifying, telling us that this time it’s gonna be different. Even if for a bit, Samara Weaving slides comfortably into the opening damsel act, and what happens before the title drop is just too delightful to spoil.
Each Scream movie introduces a new playground with its cast, with a puzzle at its centre. Piecing together that puzzle is part of the fun, but the answer needs to hit the right balance of being rational yet crazy enough to hit the audience before they figure it out. Scream 6 hits that balance well, with enough red herrings thrown to distract us from the obvious answers that, keeping in line with Scream’s internal logic, makes perfect sense.
Reading these characters is key, and the film adds just enough to keep it engaging. The new players — Jack Champion (Avatar 2), Josh Segarra, Liana Liberato, and Dermot Mulroney, all are worthy additions to the franchise, but bringing back Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby from Scream 4 is the icing on the cake. Enough has happened since the previous films to give these returning characters new motives and arcs, making for some nice return on audience investment. Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers, a mainstay for the franchise, gets the short end of the stick narratively, resorting to the same antics that make me dislike her. Still, at least we get a badass encounter with her and Ghostface that almost redeems the stasis her character arc has been in since Scream 2.
Scream 6 is an absolute banger! The new Ghostface might be my new favourite; delightfully violent.— Rahul Majumdar (@darthrahul) March 9, 2023
The young cast has solidified themselves with a tight, energetic script and franchise-best set pieces, with the NYC setting refreshingly used 🔪❤️🔥 pic.twitter.com/vO3z31hKbI
The new setting in New York is refreshing and used extremely well. All the hallmarks of the city make for some riveting action scenes, with two particularly nail-biting sequences in the NYC subway and bodega that instantly compete as a franchise best. Ghostface is a force to be reckoned with, an unstoppable train, slicing and dicing through the victims with no remorse. The new costume, primarily the mask, goes a long way in separating this one from the last few, striking genuine fear into the hearts of our characters. The same goes for the actual killings, which are bloodier than ever here. Ghostface 2.0 (or v10.0, who’s even keeping count?) is ruthless in their destruction, no longer content with endlessly toying with their victims. I can’t think of a single set piece where Ghostface isn’t terrifying until the end.
With these two films, Melissa Barrera has proven herself to be the new face of the franchise, equally brave yet vulnerable enough to suspend our disbelief. Jenna Ortega spent most of her last appearance sitting out the action, and her larger role here is a welcome move, as is her newfound romantic chemistry with Mason Gooding’s Chad. The Scream films have always dealt with romance as key subplots, and while there’s not much beyond the surface here, it’s enough to keep things interesting.
Scream 6 has directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett at the peak of their skills, combining everything they’ve learnt over their filmography to keep every minute engaging. It also helps that the script keeps things concise, along with the brisk edit that keeps the right amount of short breaks between action sequences. The film manages to walk the fine line between making fun of slasher movie tropes and poking fun at its own legacy while keeping things serious and grounded where they need to be. There’s very little tonal imbalance here, and with that, it becomes one of the franchise’s strongest entries yet. Like, what the fuck? This movie goes hard, and it didn’t need to! It rules.
Scream VI is one of the strongest sequels in the franchise, with an absolutely terrifying Ghostface and a tight script that proves this slasher series still has a lot of surprises in store.