Before I even start this review, I think I should acknowledge that I’m a huge Scream franchise fan. I’ve watched “Scream VI” at least four times since its release on Mar. 7. In an attempt to give a less-biased review, I think it’s best for me to rate this compared to its predecessors. From its meta commentary of modern horror movie tropes to its bloody violence, does “Scream VI” have what it takes to keep the franchise going?
After original director Wes Craven passed away in 2015, the people behind Radio Silence, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, took over the direction and production of the sixth sequel of the 1996 horror classic that revitalized the slasher genre. “Scream VI” continues where “Scream” (2022) left off, following the final girls, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Berrera) and her sister Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), as they try to set roots in New York City and escape the horrors that happened in Hillsborough.
Before diving into the film’s core, let’s talk about the opening scene. Although it is not necessarily weak, it still isn’t the greatest. “Scream VI” tried to do something different, and it absolutely did, but it sacrificed the usual snappy thrills of the opening acts in former Scream films. The viscerality of graphic stabbings and blood are present, but it doesn’t feel earned compared to other openers in the franchise.
By far the most tense and goriest out of all sixth films, “Scream VI” manages to keep the formulaic storyline fresh by subverting expectation in a way that is not out-of-character to the Scream franchise. They know their audience and take advantage of it; this is evident by how the franchise pokes fun at fans’ theories online.
What makes the past Scream films so scary is that they are often set in empty suburbia, so as a fan, I was a bit intrigued on how they were going to pull off a new location in a big city. I think that you can attribute the invigorated feeling of this film to its decision to move to New York City. The usage of different environments and set pieces in “Scream VI” is something we’ve never seen before in the franchise.
One thing I have to gripe on is the dull dialogue the characters have during the low moments. After my second watch, it became very difficult for me to focus or even care what the characters were talking about, which brings down the rewatchability value. The returning main cast feels familiar, but after watching the film, it felt like I didn’t gather anything new about them. Except for the Carpenter sisters, everyone is still the same even after the traumatic things they’ve gone through. There is also the underlying issue of the franchise being too scared to kill off some of its characters, which kind of ruins high stakes that previous films have established.
We also need to recognize the absence of Neve Campbell in “Scream VI.” Due to pay disputes, Campbell didn’t reprise her role as the OG final girl, Sidney Prescott. It’s sad not seeing Campbell return, but “Scream IV” benefited from this. With one less person to include in the storyline, the film was able to focus more on the relationship between the Carpenter sisters.
We’ve all seen what can happen to horror movie franchises (look at “Friday the 13th”, “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”). The Scream franchise has avoided this downfall by consistently bringing something fresh to the table. For a movie franchise that’s on its sixth film, the storyline doesn’t feel tired. You can see through self-reference and attention to detail that the creators behind the franchise still care about the movies. With the rumored return of Neve Campell in the next installment, I have high hopes that they can stick the landing.
Juan Miguel Jocom, or Juanita Banana as his friends call him, is an Editorial Board member at the Seattle Collegian, where he focuses on writing about the experience of immigrant students at Seattle Central College. A documentarian, he hopes to create videos that will showcase the chaos and glory of humans.
As a Seattle local, he’s an aspiring granola boy, who enjoys rock climbing and jumping off cliffs. His recent documentary, Welcome to the Neighborhood, was an official selected entry for the 2021 SCOOP film fest.