Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI."

Scream VI: Film Review

“This isn’t like any other Ghostface” says Hayden Panettiere, who returns to acting after a four-year hiatus. Welcome to New York City, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, and our favourite masked killer returns for another round. Scream VI catches up with the survivors of the 2022 Woodsboro Murders, who are now all attending University in the Big Apple, who find themselves at the mercy of yet another Ghostface killer. Melissa Barrera (Samantha Carpenter), Jenna Ortega (Tara Carpenter), Mason Gooding (Chad Meeks-Martin) and Jasmin Savoy Brown (Mindy Meeks-Martin) all reprise their roles as the characters we’ve grown to know and love from Scream 5, and they are joined by franchise legacy Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers) and Scream 4 alum Hayden Panettiere, who reprises her role as Kirby Reed in her first acting role since taking a long break for her mental health, a role which she personally requested to come back to.

With the tribute to the past films out of the way, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet are free to make the franchise their own and take some big risks by moving Ghostface out of his small-town setting and to a city of millions where no one hears you scream. Just don’t expect the Statue of Liberty or Times Square to show up. Yes, we’re in New York, but for this, the filmmakers wanted to explore the homely side of New York as opposed to the touristy side, a move that in my opinion was the right one. In this film, Sam Carpenter is struggling with the aftermath of the previous killings having now been accused of being the true killer and framing her ex-boyfriend and his twisted girlfriend as the killers, all this whilst taking on a roll as a helicopter parent to Tara, which she greatly resents. Gale Weathers has reverted to her old ways, writing books riddled with inaccuracies to sell the story and getting clocked in the face by the protagonists she crosses. Kirby Reed is back too after previously being left for dead by her boyfriend in Scream 4. Now an FBI agent, Kirby comes to the Big Apple to investigate the new murders, joining forces with NYPD Detective Wayne Bailey who followed his own daughter, Quinn, to New York after previously losing his son. Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin are much of the same as they were in the previous film, cracking banter with each other, sharing their love of horror movies and taking a stab at personality-less Letterbox’d users.

Now I admit that my views on the franchise may be biased as I am the one person who actually enjoyed Scream 3, but there’s no denying that this new film had some palm sweating moments – moments of audible gasps of shock and worry coming out of my mouth. Take the word of my Apple Watch, which informed me during the movie that my heart rate rose sharply during Gale Weathers’ first, and long overdue, phone call and chase scene. A scene so dramatic and nerve wracking you’ll never feel such empathy and fear.

Our new killer likes to believe he is different to his predecessors, going as far as wearing their old and weathered masks and wielding a shotgun to hunt down the Carpenter sisters in a bodega. He even has an old, abandoned theatre set up as a shrine to the past killers, a shrine that is every Scream fans dream home. Complete with all the past killer’s costumes, knives and masks, bloody and torn clothes worn by past victims and killers, a TV that smashed the head of original killer Stu Macher (if you believe he really is dead), and artwork and drawings done by our demented killer to show his love to the past. That being said, his motive has been done before, but the directors make up for that by changing the formula. This is prevalent in the opening scene.

Scream is known for its iconic opening kill scenes and the directors expand on this concept, taking it to a level we haven’t seen before. There are a lot of things unprecedented about this movie, and what made it better was watching it in a full cinema of likeminded fans.

Missing from this film is Neve Campbell as franchise titular character Sidney Prescott, who chose to sit out this instalment after feeling she was not made an offer that was reflective to her worth after starring in this franchise for 25 years. Whilst I commend Neve on standing up against the sexism that is still sadly rampant in Hollywood, her presence was missed. However, this film proves the franchise can stand on its own two feet, and trying to shoehorn Sidney into the final act as they planned would’ve been a disservice to her, and to the fans, and so I hope in the next instalment they write her a part she deserves and present her with an offer that’s true to what she is worth. Still, it’s nice to know Sidney is living safely and happily with her husband and kids.

Scream VI is a worthy sequel in this franchise and was a chance for our new directors to add a touch of their own to the franchise. With a flash of Ghostface just before the credits roll, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing Scream 7 come our way very soon.

By Daniel Viglietti

Header Image via Wall Street Journal

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