Scream VI: A Brutal and Creative Addition to the Franchise

For this entry in my MONSTROUS MOVIE REVIEWS series, I want to introduce a guest writer, my nephew Tyler Albaugh. He is a film fanatic and has such a great view on these films. I am hoping that he will be contributing more in the future!

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, known as Radio Silence, directed the sixth installment of the Scream franchise, titled Scream VI. This time, the film is set in New York City and features a more intense and brutal slasher storyline compared to the small-town murder-mystery of previous films.

The movie primarily serves as a sequel to the 2022 Scream film, with a new killer behind the Ghostface mask stalking the returning characters from Woodsboro, as they relocate to New York City. Tara Carpenter (played by Jenna Ortega), along with twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding), who attend Blackmore University, and Tara’s half-sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera), all become targets of the new Ghostface killer.

The “core four” of the film, including Tara, Mindy, Chad, and Samantha, are joined by returning survivors Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). The film also features new characters, such as college students Ethan (Jack Champion), Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Quinn (Liana Liberato), along with Quinn’s detective father Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) and Sam’s neighbor and love interest, Danny (Josh Segarra).

Scream VI successfully maintains the franchise’s signature meta-commentary while keeping the movie exciting, suspenseful, and fun. The film’s chase scenes, self-aware protagonists, and gruesome kills remain hallmarks of the series. However, the movie also introduces original and creative set pieces, such as Ghostface holding a shotgun in a bodega and the protagonists climbing across apartment buildings, creating some of the most tense and memorable scenes of the series.

The performances from the main cast, especially Barrera and Ortega, are compelling and interesting, with the returning cast developing their characters since their previous appearances. Barrera effectively portrays Sam as a disturbed and unstable character still grappling with the trauma from her past. Ortega, a rising star, brings a spunky energy to the role of Tara. The main cast, along with Cox and Panettiere, make the audience care about their characters’ fates, filling the void left by the absence of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell).

Although the film’s originality is refreshing, it also creates some confusion about its place in the franchise. The inclusion of plot beats from previous films, such as celebrity cameo openers, killer unmaskings, and meta rule explanations, feels forced to maintain consistency. The lack of comfortable repetition, such as horror movie trivia, could also create a disconnect between this film and the rest of the franchise.

The film’s increased brutality and suspense keep the series fresh, but also create a risk of stretching the franchise beyond reasonable belief. The characters make dumber decisions, survive impossible situations, and face an increasingly bizarre contrast between the killer’s intelligence and capabilities pre- and post-unmasking, creating a suspension of disbelief that may cause a disconnect with the audience.

Despite these criticisms, Scream VI delivers an entertaining and enjoyable experience that fans of the franchise will appreciate.

~Tyler Albaugh

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