The newest film in the beloved “Scream” franchise, “Scream VI,” was released in theaters on March 10, 2023, and was met with critical acclaim. An engaging sequel that experiments with the typical slasher format, while still staying true to the franchise’s roots, “Scream VI” does not disappoint in what it brings to the franchise.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett of the American film company Radio Silence, “Scream VI” is a direct sequel to the events featured in “Scream” (2022). It follows the survivors from the previous film, sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter, and twins Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin, as they leave their hometown of Woodsboro, Calif. for New York City. While in New York, however, a Ghostface killer terrorizes and begins to murder people close to them, forcing the survivors to fight back against the infamous killer once again.
One of the new additions to this film is that it changes the setting of the Ghostface attacks, originally taking place in California, to New York and takes the attacks and story from the original film out of the picture. While many of the previous sequels, like “Scream 2,” changed the setting from Woodsboro, Calif., to another location, including a college campus and the set of a movie, the story of Sidney Prescott and the murders from the original film still had a significant part of the story, with the second film, in particular, continuing major storylines from the first “Scream” film. While those events still play a role in the overarching storyline of “Scream VI,” Sidney Prescott’s story no longer takes center stage, and instead focuses on Sam and Tara and how they cope with the events of “Scream” (2022).
“Scream VI” had many memorable performances. In particular, Jenna Ortega’s role as Tara Carpenter was a standout. While Tara had a major role in the previous film, surviving one of the “Scream” franchise’s opening kills, she was mainly confined to the hospital and was immobilized, and was thus unable to reach her full potential. In the newest film, however, Tara has an incredibly engaging arc: In the beginning, she is still reeling from the events of the previous film and is refusing to go to therapy. By the end of the film, she is actively defending herself against the Ghostface killers in resourceful and unique ways, is able to live her life more freely, and is agreeing to go to therapy.
Other standout performances include Melissa Barrera as Sam Carpenter, the daughter of Billy Loomis, one of the killers from “Scream,” and Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin, a horror film fanatic who explains the “rules” for surviving in each film. Many characters from the previous films also return, including Courtney Cox as news reporter Gale Weathers and Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed, a survivor from the Ghostface attacks in “Scream 4.”
While “Scream VI” has many high points, there are also many aspects that I feel could have been handled better. For one, the absence of Sidney Prescott, the series’ long-running final girl, is incredibly jarring. The reason for this is because of a financial dispute between the studio, Warner Bros., and her actress, Neve Campbell, who decided to not return to the series. Even though this film is meant to focus on Sam and Tara, and not Sidney, I would have appreciated a cameo from Campbell at the very least, and it is disappointing that she left the series because of this dispute. The motives of the Ghostface killers are also quite flimsy, and are reminiscent of the revenge motive that was also featured in “Scream 2.” I believe that Radio Silence could have created a far better motive for the Ghostface killers in this film, as it feels like they’ve rehashed an old plot point for no reason other than laziness and convenience.
Overall, “Scream VI” is a solid film which brings new life to a beloved horror franchise that continues to terrify viewers. If you have not seen “Scream VI,” I highly recommend that you do, as it has an engaging story and rich characters in addition to its horror and slasher elements.