Scream VI – Review

Cert – 18, Run-time – 2 hours 2 minutes, Directors – Tyler Gillett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin

Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and the rest of the ‘Core Four’ (Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding) face a new iteration of Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) against rumours that Samantha committed the murders the year before.

2022’s Scream was the most ‘Scream’ Scream film yet with its deeply self-aware and meta nature. It brought the franchise back with a hit and as many may have expected a sequel was quickly put into production. Pretty much written and produced within the space of a year there are plenty of moments trying to continue this highly self-aware nature, in fact seemingly pointing that out as well. This largely in the form of returning character Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), knowledgeable of the ins and outs of slasher movies and the different character types she’s obsessed with finding out who the new Ghostface (once again voiced by Roger L. Jackson) is before anyone else, especially after failing to do so last time.

Yet, the explanation of the workings of a requel sequel and legacy films almost seems to be present more for the audience to be aware of the situation rather than for the sake of humour. The self awareness as a whole here doesn’t quite seem to sit as well as the narrative feels somewhat reverse engineered with much of the detail being in the third act confrontations as opposed to throughout the rest of the film. There are certainly enjoyable moments throughout, largely outside of the various character dramas which never quite grab your attention, but they feel dampened by the feeling of the need for at least one more draft of certain sequences.

The Ghostface in question once again seems to be inspired by the previous entries in the Stab franchise, targeting the returning faces from the previous film. However, there’s suspicion that it could be new central figure Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) after rumours circulate online accusing her of having committed the murders the year before. When things start back up fingers begin to point towards her – especially after an outburst on campus grounds (the story moving from Woodsboro to New York City, without much of a city feel outside of one advertised subway sequence) earlier in the evening. In general you don’t quite buy into the character dramas on display, especially as a handful of elements; and characters, feel like side-thoughts amongst everything else.

When focusing on more stripped back elements, or establishing a good flow in its own particular vein – as the opening sequence rather well displays – Scream VI is at its best. It’s certainly the goriest entry of the franchise and earns its 18 rating in the first ten minutes. There’s an initial darkness to this element which brings a tension to this latest iteration of Ghostface, however this somewhat dims as we shift back to the central characters and their efforts to find out who’s behind the mask this time, and how to stop them. Often the simpler points work the best instead of the more contrived narrative elements or overly-extended kill elements which fill up the midsection of the film, and leak into the third act.

There’s plenty within this film which feels in need of a bit more tuning, at least one more draft could have potentially been done with. However, there’s a good amount withing Scream VI which does work. There are some good horror elements, particularly when not leaning into the very upfront meta nature which writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick have injected into these most recent instalments of the franchise; although there is some amusement to be had here, if not to the same extent as last time. While it could have perhaps done with a bit more time in production you can absolutely tell that this is still a Scream film, and still, amongst the irks and frustrations, good viewing at that.

In need of at least one more draft Scream VI feels somewhat contrived in regards to its characters and certain elements which feel like side-thoughts. Yet, despite a faltering meta nature, there are some good elements of straight horror and tension and still an unmistakable sense of Scream.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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