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Scream VI

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action
Publisher: Paramount
Release Date: March 10, 2023


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Movie Review - 'Scream VI'

by Adam Pavlacka on March 9, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Following the latest Ghostface killings, the four survivors leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter.

Last year's Scream "requel" was a solid entry in the franchise, but it still felt like a passing of the torch, rather than something new. "Scream VI" boldly takes the series into a new chapter, moving from the suburbs to the big city — and all the danger that comes along with it.

Set a year after the events of the last film, sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) have relocated to New York with their friends, fraternal twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding). Neither Sam nor Tara has fully recovered from the trauma of Ghostface's rampage in Woodsboro, and each is dealing with it in different ways. Sam goes into full-on "protective big sister mode," and Tara refuses to recognize that there is any danger in the world.

The different ways in which the two sisters deal with trauma and their journey to accepting each other for who they are, is the underlying theme that drives "Scream VI," but it is far from the only layer to the story. This is a Scream movie, after all. There is plenty of meta commentary on the genre and established tropes, a mystery that will keep you guessing, and a decently high body count. Most importantly, it's not afraid to try new things.

"Scream VI" plays within its own established rules while simultaneously subverting audience expectations. The filmmakers drive home this point from the start by having Ghostface remove their mask right after the opening kill.

The film's meta commentary is sharp and on point, running the gamut from classic horror to more modern "torture porn," why tracing a call never works in the movies, and even the motivation driving the killers. This is delivered through multiple characters, though none more brilliantly than Mindy. Brown's portrayal of the film geek was limited in "Scream" (2022), but she gets a chance to shine here, stealing every scene that she's in.

One element that stands out in "Scream VI" is that none of the main characters do anything profoundly stupid. On the contrary, all of them react in ways that are both believable and logical. A high point here is when Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) has her own encounter with Ghostface. It was easily my favorite scene outside of the finale.

Aside from Gale, "Scream VI" brings back Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), who was confirmed as a survivor of the fourth movie via an easter egg in "Scream" (2022). Kirby is now an FBI agent with a particular interest in catching Ghostface killers. Despite being legacy characters, neither Cox nor Panettiere take the focus away from the main characters. They're clearly in a supporting role here, making sure that Barrera and Ortega are front and center.

Barrera and Ortega are clearly the stars, with both of them being given more physical roles than the prior film. In "Scream" (2022), it felt like things were happening to them. Here, they are active participants in their defense, with the entirety of the film feeling more like a battle of wits as it pits Sam and Tara against Ghostface. Of course, Ghostface isn't the only threat to the duo. There's also the uncaring attitude of New York City itself.

Where the previous films generally focused on small towns, "Scream VI" makes it clear that just because you're in public doesn't mean that the threat isn't real. It doesn't matter if it is an overt attack or not; most people in the big city don't care and don't want to get involved. It also gives Ghostface plenty of opportunity to hide in the crowd.

On the mystery front, "Scream VI" drops plenty of red herrings, but it also provides enough clues for a savvy viewer to figure it all out before the grand finale. I failed miserably at this part, but thinking back after the review screening was over, I recognized the parts that I missed and how they all fit together.

Six movies in, and the Scream franchise is still going strong. "Scream VI" has everything that makes a Scream movie while also mixing in fresh new ideas to ensure it doesn't feel like a retread. It doesn't matter if you've seen all of the prior films or if this is your first experience with the franchise, "Scream VI" is worth checking out. That said, do your best to avoid Ghostface spoilers. You want to come in cold.

Score: 8.0/10

"Scream VI" is rated R and has a running time of 2 hours and 2 minutes. It is showing in standard theaters and in 3D.

Editor's Note: Scream VI features an after credits stinger. Stay for the credits if you don't want to miss it.

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