“Who gives a f*ck about movies?” – Scream VI Review
Joe Meola ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Scream is back! Only about a year after the release of the 2022 soft relaunch–aka “requel”–of the series, Paramount Pictures has released Scream VI, directed by Matt Bettenelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. This long-running horror franchise, created by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson, began with 1996’s Scream, and while each new installment contains the same slasher tropes mixed with whodunnit mystery and varying degrees of meta-commentary, each manages to be fresh and unique from the others. Scream VI is no exception. In fact, this film may perhaps be the most different compared to other installments in the franchise, and that’s a good thing!
Right from the opening scene, it is clear to audiences that this film is going to be different from past installments in the franchise. As with previous entries, Scream VI opens with an unsuspecting innocent falling victim to a gruesome Ghostface killing. However, after the initial killing of Laura Crane (Samara Weaving), this opening sequence diverts from those of previous establishments by showing audiences the identity of the killer: Jason Carvey (Tony Revolori). It doesn’t stop there, though, as Jason returns to the apartment shared with his partner-in-crime, Greg, whom he soon discovers dead before he himself is slain by the film’s actual killer. This opening segment is filled with so many twists and turns that set it apart from the typical Scream formula while still staying true to the series’ roots.
In order to talk about significant differences between this and previous installments in the series, it is important to address the elephant in the room: Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott, the main character of the franchise (except for her supporting role in last year’s installment) is absent from Scream VI due to studio refusal to pay the actress what she believes she is owed for her contribution to the franchise. While it is unfortunate that Campbell could not be involved in the film–-Sid is one of the most iconic female leads in cinematic history, after all—a Scream movie without Sidney is honestly quite refreshing. Seeing the same character going through the same series of events for several decades becomes stale after a while, and from an in-universe perspective, Sidney deserves a break. She’s been dealing with masked killers since 1996; she’s earned her happy ending! Besides, Scream VI does still embrace the series’ legacy, both with its inclusion of Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers from all of the previous films and Scream 4’s Kirby Reed (played by Hayden Panettiere).
Kirby’s return is a welcome addition to Scream VI, and her presence (along with Panettiere’s incredible performance) makes it very easy to forget Sidney is even gone. This new chapter in the Scream franchise contains much more than its legacy cast, though. Of course, Scream VI sees the return of the four surviving main cast members from the 2022 requel: Sam and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, respectively) and Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown, respectively). This quartet, dubbed the “Core Four” by Chad, has moved to New York for college following the gruesome events of the previous film. The Core Four are joined by newcomers Quinn Bailey, Ethan Landry, Anika Koyoko, Detective Wayne Bailey, and Danny Brackett (Liana Liberato, Jack Champion, Devyn Nekoda, Durmot Mulroney, and Josh Segarra, respectively). Since this is a Scream film, all these characters, old and new, means there are alot of suspects. Anyone could be the killer, and as with previous films, even the leads–this time around being the Core Four, in particular Sam–are on the suspect list.
Once again, the newer cast members introduced in 2022 (in addition to this film’s additions) do a stellar job. Sam is an incredibly compelling protagonist, and Tara is given a bigger role, finally making her worthy of being played by an actress of Jenna Ortega’s caliber. The Meeks-Martin twins, fan favorites from the last film, are absolutely delightful and thankfully get even more screen time this time around so they have more time to shine. Unfortunately, the characters introduced in this film kind of fall into the background for the most part until the big reveal at the end of the film.
It should be noted that Scream VI is more than mere whodunnit mystery (infused with the franchise’s typical brand of meta-commentary on movies); it is also a powerful story about dealing with trauma; this is the most prominent this theme has been since Scream 2. As with the previous film, the aforementioned Sam takes up the role of the main character, as the heroine must struggle with the trauma of events from the last film, the new killer on the loose, and the violent tendencies inherited from her father, Billy Loomis. This new killer has an obsession not just with the killers of the last film, but also those of the entire franchise, as they leave masks containing DNA of each of the previous games at crime scenes. The killer is particularly infatuated with the original and most recent killings due to their connection to Sam (the originals were orchestrated by her father, while she was one of the targets of the most recent). Sam and co’s struggle both with their trauma and the emergence of a new killer could perhaps be viewed as an allegory for how one’s trauma continues to follow and haunt them no matter how far they run. The new Ghostface is a physical representation of inescapable trauma.
Why the obsession with Sam, though? Is this new killer another horror superfanatic gone too far with their obsession following the last killings? They–a trio this time around, making this the first three-man Ghostface in franchise history–are revealed to be Detective Bailey, Quinn, and Ethan, who were secretly the father, sister, and brother of Richie Kirsch, one of the killers in the previous film. The trio seeks revenge against Sam and co for Richie’s death at the hands of Sam.
Throughout the course of the film, this trio of Ghostfaces proves themselves a force to be reckoned with throughout the span of some of the best action sequences the franchise has to offer. The convenience store segment is equal parts terrifying and unique, keeping audience members on the edge of their seats in nail-biting agony as Ghostface ditches their traditional knife in favor of a shotgun to hunt down Sam and Tara. Similarly, the train sequence towards the end of the film–with its constant flicker between light and dark, civilians adorned in Ghostface halloween costumes, and constant switching between two different trains–keeps you guessing which of the main characters will be attacked next.
It is no secret that Scream VI executes both the series’ typical tropes and new elements incredibly well, perhaps even better than many previous films in the series, but it is not without its flaws. There are many instances where characters go through experiences that should leave them very much dead but then miraculously survive by the end of the film. This has occurred in past installments, with Dewy surviving seemingly fatal encounters in every appearance except his last in 2022 and Chad surprisingly surviving a brutal encounter with Ghostface in the 2022 requel, among other examples. This latest installment, however, goes a bit overboard with such encounters. Gale seemingly perishes following a wild fight sequence with Ghostface in her apartment, Mindy seems to endure a fatal stab wound on the train, and Chad is stabbed repeatedly by not one but two Ghostfaces at once, yet all are alive and well at the end of the movie.
This is not the only example of leaps in logic that occur in this movie. As another example, while it is cool to see Skeet Ulrich return as Billy Loomis in these new films via hallucinations, this weird force ghost type role makes little sense, as why would Sam be hallucinating someone she has never met? And why does he look just like he did at the end of the 1996 film. She would not know how he looked back then, as she was not there. It’s a cool concept, but also a bit goofy.
Despite its flaws, Scream VI is a very enjoyable movie, and it is an excellent addition to the franchise. Get your tickets while you can!