SCREAM VI l Paramount Pictures Canada | March 10, 2023
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Mason Gooding, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Jenna Ortega, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox
Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Following the latest Ghostface killings, the four survivors leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter. In Scream VI, Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”), Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Mindy Meeks-Martin”), Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”), Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”), Hayden Panettiere (“Kirby Reed”) and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) return to their roles in the franchise alongside Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, and Samara Weaving.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Scream VI slashes its way through a countless number of victims as Ghostface takes on the Big Apple in what is easily the most exciting and thrilling entry into the franchise for date, that under the talented direction of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett who elicit great performances from the entire cast while not being afraid to push the series to new extremes, cements Scream as one of the horror genre’s best franchises.
Every horror fan has their favourite franchise that they will die for, and for me that franchise is Scream. The original film was the first horror film I voluntarily watched, and it helped develop my love of the genre. It spawned countless sequels that for the most part have been outstanding, though none of them have eclipsed the genius of Wes Craven’s original horror masterpiece. But it is safe to say that Scream VI is the best of the sequels that continues the homage to Craven’s legacy while pushing the franchise to its biggest, boldest and bloodiest film yet!
Set months after Amber and Richie’s murderous rampage in Woodsboro, Sam, Tara, Mindy and Chad have moved to New York City. Tara, Mindy and Chad are attending university, while Sam has moved to be close to her sister and make sure Tara is safe. However, their efforts to start a new chapter in their lives is thwarted when a new Ghostface killer emerges with a streak of murders, once again targeting Sam, Tara, and anyone they care for.
Six films into the series; fans are confident they know the Scream formula by now. Everyone is a suspect, any character can be killed off, and the odds are that the person (or persons) behind the Ghostface mask are close to our main characters, in this case Sam and Tara. And while you would be right to some extent, the creative team behind last year’s Scream have subverted expectations, rewriting the rules of the franchise for a thrilling new entry. From the second the film starts, you know this is not your run of the mill Scream film. The tension is higher, the stakes are raised, and there are some shocking occurrences that happen fairly early on that indicate you haven’t seen a film in the series like this one yet. It’s a brilliant reworking of the franchise’s formula, much like Craven’s original film reworked the slasher genre, delivering a film that is guaranteed to delight fans of the series.
The story itself is great, providing a far more character driven story than any other film in the franchise. Previous films have touched on Sydney and her mental psyche being a survivor of the Ghostface killings, but this film truly dives into the mental gymnastics that both Sam and Tara are experiencing after their first encounter with Ghostface. It provides an emotional undercurrent to both of their character arcs, which only raises the stakes for each of them, while providing a great discussion of trauma that is not often seen in the slasher genre. The overall story with the Ghostface plays out as you would expect, with lots of twists and turns, and loads of red herrings to keep you changing your guess as to which character or characters could be behind the mask. And even though my first guess as to which character or characters were behind the killings was spot on, it never for a second derailed my enjoyment of the film because it is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish.
Moving the story to New York City was the right choice for this entry in the franchise, as it provided a grand scale for the film that this franchise deserves. The set pieces themselves are incredible blockbuster moments that must be experienced on the big screen. The ladder sequence teased in the trailers was great, with the subway sequence at the center of the film’s marketing being the standout sequence of the film as it is a nerve wracking, tension building sequence that will have you trembling in your seats. But, it is the kill sequences themselves that are the highlight of the film. Ghostface has never been this violent before, but it suits this story perfectly. The intensity of the violence is truly shocking as we are treated to the goriest, most brutal and shocking kills in the entire franchise, but given this is a slasher film, that is exactly what the audience wants! While I watched in terror, there is no denying that I was experiencing a gleeful high as to the carnage that Ghostface was causing on screen.
While Neve Campbell made headlines when she turned down a role in this film for feeling that the salary offer did not represent what she brought to the franchise, you never felt the lack of legacy characters. There is no denying that I loved seeing Courteney Cox back as Gale Weathers and I would jump at the chance for Campbell to return as Sydney Prescott, but the new characters are great and carry the film on their own. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega are outstanding as Sam and Tara respectively, lighting up the screen with their talent every second they are in front of the camera. Individually, both Barrera and Ortega give tremendous performances that capture their characters’ fragile state as survivors while at the same time being incredibly fierce and confidently leading this franchise into an exciting new chapter, while their combined performance makes them an unstoppable force in the film. Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding are once again great as Mindy and Chad, rounding out the film’s core four characters. These four actors are all terrific, their on screen chemistry is excellent, and should they all survive this film and a seventh film is greenlit, the franchise is in safe hands with them at the helm.
Even though it is the new characters that steal the show, the legacy characters are still an welcomed addition to the film. Cox once again is a spitfire as Gale Weathers, stealing the spotlight and providing some great moments. Hayden Panettiere returns as Kirby, and it was great to see her back in the franchise. While Kirby is older and wiser now, having survived her encounter with Ghostface in Scream 4, Panettiere once again captures that wit and fire that made Kirby a fan favourite character in her film. Her scenes with Ortega and Barrera are great, and once again she is a fearless character while also providing some darkness to Kirby that makes for an exciting iteration of the character. The rest of the new cast members are good, though it was Samara Weaving who was the standout for me as one of the university’s film professors in a truly terrific and terrifying sequence.
There is no doubt that the brilliance of the film is all contributed to directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. The two of them truly understand what makes this franchise one of the most popular horror series, both paying homage to all the previous films while at the same time revamping the franchise’s formula for a modern age and pushing it in an exciting new direction. With these two behind the camera, I will keep coming back for as many sequels they want to make, because six films in and this franchise is as fresh as ever. Ghostface is back and he means business in the most brutal, gory and violent entry in the Scream franchise with Scream VI, that thanks to the two outstanding lead performances of Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega combined with a story that is not afraid to push the franchise in an exciting new direction, makes for not only the best sequel of the franchise but my current favourite film of the year!