Scream VI leaves the small town of Woodsboro, California and takes Ghostface to the big city of New York. Like Scream 2, the sequel follows Jenna Ortega’s Tara as she goes to college and tries to distance herself from the massacre she lived through. It’s a new city with an attempt at new beginnings, but the film ends up being the same old screams in the end. Fans of the franchise will be entertained by the satirical dark comedy the series is known for. Those hoping for something new and different will be somewhat disappointed by how much it plays by the rules, however. For better or for worse, Scream VI delivers exactly what you’d expect.
After surviving the most recent Woodsboro legacy killings, sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) have made the move to NYC along with their friends and fellow survivors, twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding). While Tara, Mindy, and Chad all attend college together, Sam is in city more so to keep a close eye on her sister. They aren’t the only ones to leave Woodsboro, however, and a new Ghostface emerges from the shadows to finish what was started back in their hometown. Once again, they all find themselves struggling with the end of a sharp knife and a ghost mask wondering who is trying to kill them this time.
I rather enjoyed last year’s Scream legacyquel, calling it the “best Scream since the original Scream,” so I was excited to see how the franchise would evolve from there. The series has always been about exploring society’s current horror and slasher tropes with its satirical microscope on timely trends. There is some of that in Scream VI, but for the most part it follows the same lines it always has and in doing so distances itself from what made me enjoy its predecessor so much. A lot of that has to do with the fact that there was 11 years between Scream 4 and the rebooted Scream. The film landscape changed drastically in that time so there was a lot to work with and catch up on for the franchise. It’s now only been just a year since the last film and not much is too different. It’s the same screams, just in a new city.
Scream VI‘s focus continues to be on Sam and her coming to terms with being the daughter of serial killer and OG Ghostface Billy Loomis. Like the Fast and the Furious franchise, it’s all about family now. Sam wants to protect Tara at all costs, even her own sanity and happiness. Tara believes she can handle things on her own and that Sam needs to move on. The dynamic between Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega is the best element of the film. They’re great as the new core characters of the franchise and for the time being I’m still excited to see things moving forward with them. That being said, once Ghostface reenters the picture it’s back to its regular stabby self.
Maybe it’s because we just had a Scream film as outlined above but Scream VI felt more predictable and safe compared to its predecessors. There are not so many twists and turns this time around and the mystery of who is Ghostface, while still being an okay whodunit, was far more telegraphed. The New York City setting didn’t add much to the film, either, aside from a decent and tense subway ride. Scream VI abides by the rules outlined in another Mindy monologue. Nothing hits as hard as it did before. Even the stabs themselves, while bloody and horrific, are rather tame. Characters will get stabbed multiple times and then be seemingly fine a few scenes later. I know there’s a suspension of disbelief, especially with the Scream franchise, but Scream VI ups the brutality of the film (one of the “rules” of sequels is more gore) so it just becomes more apparent at how invincible the characters feel, removing any tension from being attacked by Ghostface.
That being said, Scream VI still has some entertaining moments. It’s good to see Hayden Panettiere return as Kirby, even if Scream 4 wasn’t exactly a winner. The franchise has to be more careful, however, and not become an example of the very thing it satirizes. After hitting a high with last year’s Scream, its fate is now balancing on the edge of a blade, and it could go in either direction.
Fans of the franchise will be entertained by the satirical dark comedy the series is known for. Those hoping for something new and different will be somewhat disappointed by how much it plays by the rules, however. For better or for worse, Scream VI delivers exactly what you’d expect.