By Patrick Edwards, Second Year, Film
Horror franchises are known for diminishing returns; most worsen with each instalment. However, Scream (1996-) seems to be the outlier. While no film in the franchise has surpassed the masterful original, it has managed to remain constantly entertaining, and this new instalment is a thrilling continuation of this trend.
Scream VI (2023) picks up where Scream (2022) left off, with the surviving characters of the last Ghostface killings moving to New York. But, like all the films before it, a new killer starts attacking our characters.
Scream VI’s most impressive aspect is how fresh it all feels. A sixth instalment in a simplistic horror franchise has no right to be as exciting as this, but its likeable characters and core mystery have you engaged from the start.
Directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin clearly had much more freedom with this instalment than they did with Scream (2022); the stylistically excessive gore is a good indicator of this.
Their direction shines here, featuring some of the franchise’s best chase scenes and a brilliant sense of tension throughout, with a specific subway sequence being expertly presented.
The most significant improvement on the previous instalment is our main characters, made up of Sam (Melissa Barrera), Tara (Jenna Ortega), Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), which the film dubs “the core four.”
In the previous film, the characters felt replaceable, as the film’s marketing primarily focused on the so-called legacy characters of Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette).
Scream VI entirely focuses on our new characters, particularly the sibling relationship of Sam and Tara. Both Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega are likeable in the film and will surely return for many more instalments.
Courtney Cox is used sparingly in the film, and the decision to bring her back felt like a way to phase out the old. Neve Campbell is a loss for the franchise, no doubt; however, the door is open for her return in later instalments, and the greater focus on the new characters is overwhelmingly positive.
Sadly, the film is scared to commit to some decisions fully; a few too many characters survive situations they really shouldn’t, and some character deaths are forgotten about by the next scene.
It isn’t the most accessible film for newcomers either, with a returning character from Scream 4 (2011) and multiple references to prior instalments; however, if you’re a fan of the franchise, these references are nostalgically entertaining.
Despite this, the film is somewhat short on the meta-commentary that made Scream (1996) so enthralling. There is only some brief dialogue about the nature of long-running franchises, with its main rules being that all bets are off, no characters are safe, and anyone can be the killer.
Scream VI instead mainly focuses on the nature and consequences of true crime and conspiracy theories, but this commentary comes and goes so the film feels only partially committed to these themes.
Overall, however, Scream VI is a brilliant addition to the Scream Franchise, building upon Scream (2022) while still being innovative and interesting. The decision to focus primarily on the new characters is a particular plus, and Gillet and Bettinelli-Olpin’s direction makes the film a tense thrill-ride that Wes Craven would be proud of.
Featured Image: Paramount Pictures on IMDB
What did you think of the sixth instalment of the Scream franchise?