Scream VI

Nobody else seems to see it this way, but I still think SCREAM was the perfect name for the sequel to SCREAM (1996) that came out in 2022. It revived the seemingly concluded series after 11 years, and for the first time without Wes Craven, so naturally it took today’s legacy sequels – where a set of new, younger characters teams up with returning characters from the old series in a story loosely structured like the first film – as its format and subject. The movies it’s based on never have a number in their title; it only made sense to follow the naming convention of such modern horror franchise entries as HALLOWEEN (2018), HELLBOY (2019), THE GRUDGE (2020), CANDYMAN (2021), WRONG TURN (2021), TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2022), HELLRAISER (2022) and the upcoming THE EXORCIST (2023).

A year later here we are with another one from the same directors (Tyler Gillett & Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, READY OR NOT) and writers (Guy Busick [READY OR NOT] & James Vanderbilt [ZODIAC]) and this time it does have a number in the title – the historic first Roman numeral of the series. SCREAM VI is a good title mainly because the trailer showed the M in SCREAM get slashed and split into a bleeding VI, and secondarily because it’s admitting that yeah, we can’t lie, this is the sixth movie in the SCREAM series. It stars mostly our new set of characters introduced in the last one, but makes reference to characters and events from all five previous SCREAMs. I gotta admit, I’ve been there since the beginning, I’ve watched SCREAM many times, SCREAM 2 several times, SCREAM 3 maybe three times, the other two one each, but they drop so many names so fast I had trouble remembering what they were talking about. Not that it matters.

(Note: There were two guys behind me and one of them had apparently never seen any SCREAM movie before so the other guy tried to explain who each character was as they appeared. Not ideal.)

Intentionally following the SCREAM to SCREAM 2 trajectory, VI finds the young survivors of SCREAM (2022) now living in a new town to go to college. Tara (Jenna Ortega, X), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown, SOUND OF VIOLENCE), and Mindy’s brother Chad (Mason Gooding, FALL) are living in New York City, attending Blackmore University, and Tara’s sister Sam (Melissa Barrera, IN THE HEIGHTS) moved with them to keep an eye on little sister. They make it explicit that they’re sticking together because they survived these murders and know they need each others’ support. Well, Tara swears she’s fine and resents Sam’s protectiveness, but they all worry about her and look after her.

Remember that these are relatives of characters from the original movie. Sam is the secret daughter of part 1 killer Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich, “Thug,” TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES), and she still has hallucinations of him talking to her, like a devil on her shoulder. Mindy and Chad are niece and nephew of Randy, who was killed in part 2, and Mindy has taken on his role of the person who delivers a contrived monologue about what type of horror movie the current murder spree is inspired by and what “rules” they must follow. (They are mercifully spared visions of their dead uncle doing hacky impressions and yelling terrible movie opinions in their faces.)

Once again there’s somebody making harassing phone calls with the voice of Roger L. Jackson (TITAN A.E.) and then wearing that cool Halloween mask (officially called “Ghostface” as of part 4) and killing people. The primary new gimmick is that he’s leaving masks at the crime scenes that prove to have traces of DNA from each of the previous Ghostfaces, in order. Also he explicitly threatens Sam, calling her a murderer and saying he wants justice. An interesting, very current touch is that conspiracy theories have spread online that Sam was the real killer and set up her boyfriend. She’s used to getting yelled at about it in public. Not fun.

You gotta have some people to get killed and/or be red herrings, so new characters include Tara’s “sex positive” (as she puts it) roommate Quinn (Liana Liberato, DIG), Chad’s geeky roommate Ethan (Jack Champion – motherfuckin Spider from AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER, but I didn’t recognize him), and Mindy’s spacey girlfriend Anika (Devyn Nekoda, Degrassi: The Next Generation). Since the killer seems a little more physically capable than in previous installments they gotta have a couple more manly dudes in the ensemble as possible suspects, so there’s Danny (Josh Segarra, BLOOD NIGHT: THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET), a.k.a. “Cute Boy,” a hunky neighbor they often see shirtless across the way and who Sam hides that she sometimes has sex with. And Quinn’s dad Wayne (Dermot Mulroney, SUNSET) is a police detective they go to for help sometimes.

This is the first in the series to not involve Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott (she left when the production wouldn’t pay her what she felt she was worth), but the hook for fans is that they brought back popular SCREAM 4 character Kirby (Hayden Panettiere, BRING IT ON: ALL OR NOTHING), who was never technically shown dead after being stabbed so they implied in last year’s chapter that she survived. The goofy surprise is that she returns in the capacity of an FBI agent in a flashy leather jacket. Courteney Cox (MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE) also returns as reporter/true crime author Gale Weathers, now the only character to appear in every chapter. Weirdly she goes back to being an insensitive jerk trying to interview people right after their friends were murdered, I guess just so Tara can punch her in her part 2 like Sidney did in hers. Gale immediately feels bad about it and just starts helping with the mystery solving or whatever.

As you know if you’ve seen the trailer, Gale finds an old, closed movie theater that has been set up as the Planet Hollywood of SCREAM – glass cases displaying murder weapons and other mementos from the crimes in previous SCREAM movies, and a lineup of mannequins in Ghostface robes, but with the masks missing (because they’re being left at these crime scenes). It’s a little odd how comfortable everybody is hanging out in this shrine to their friends’ murders, complete with bloody knives and clothes, but I won’t judge.

Here’s the bad news about SCREAM VI: it’s a SCREAM sequel. So far nobody has figured out how to radically reinvent them. I think the sequels are mostly fun, but none of them are on the same plane as the original, and I suspect they really couldn’t be, because it’s too perfect of a concept to sequelize. Before part 2 came out the idea of “this one is going to comment on slasher sequels!” seemed to make sense, but in retrospect it had little of substance to say on the topic, and some of the dialogue about sequels is straight up embarrassing. (I will spare you my rant about the impossibility of Randy being both a huge horror fan and a snob who hates sequels.)

Arguably SCREAM (2022) is the strongest SCREAM sequel conceptually because the passage of time for the characters and changes in the genre and its place in pop culture gave it something fresh to riff on. Having just rewatched SCREAM 4 for the first time since it came out I think it has a similar advantage, and I’ll be writing about that soon. But with VI we have the fastest turnaround since SCREAM 2, and it really underlines how much the concept of SCREAM and the traditions of slasher sequels are in opposition to each other. SCREAM is just about the only slasher series where the killer never comes back, and one of very few where the survivors always do. Sidney (if she was in this) could be compared to Laurie Strode, the only slasher heroine to return more than a few times, but Laurie doesn’t have a Gale or a Dewey or a growing web of other returning characters with her. I guess JASON GOES TO HELL is a FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel where a character is related to Jason, but she didn’t have friends related to someone he killed in part 2 or hang out with some character who’d been in all the previous installments. That’s specific to SCREAM, a natural evolution of creator Kevin Dawson’s Creek Williamson being more interested in the lives of the young characters than the deaths.

So that’s what’s cool about SCREAM as a series, that it’s different in the way it cares about its survivors, but that also makes its gestures at commenting on the genre feel a little out of wack. Offing and replacing the killers every time prevents them from turning into jokesters after a while like Freddy did, but it also prevents them from ever being fully developed, or having a chance to evolve into something more interesting. They are forever a side character who puts on an act for most of the movie and then gets mega for a monologue where they proudly reveal themselves and their motives.

VI also seems shackled to the SCREAM 2 premise that within the world of the movies the events have been adapted into a popular series of movies called STAB. It was a funny idea, and all of the previous sequels found clever ways to use it, but at this point asking us to keep track of the events of five previous SCREAM movies that the new characters know about from having watched STAB movies, which also include several entirely fictional chapters (one with time travel), is awkward, and continues to distance SCREAM even further from accurate genre commentary. STAB just isn’t a reflection of anything that exists in horror, because it was a creation of Williamson just three years after SERIAL MOM and NATURAL BORN KILLERS, when it was considered smart satire to say “Jeez, can you believe how exploitative this media is?” Same goes for Gale, a parody of a type of tabloid news reporter soon killed off by cable news and unknown to the newer generations of horror fans that inherit these movies.

Today a parallel could be made to the re-enactments and documentaries about serial killers that have been popular, but it’s still very different – those are shows, not movies, they’re generally about older crimes, not current events, they don’t inspire this particular type of obsessive fandom, and aren’t generally considered to be part of the horror genre. STAB has become a vestigial metaphor, an easy way to do jokes but not really say much.

According to Mindy’s now traditional “rules” monologue, the theme of SCREAM VI is “franchises.” She says this means it will be bigger and bloodier than before, which was previously said of sequels in 2 and remakes in 4. She also says that even a main character can die or be the killer. I’m not sure off the top of my head which current horror series that would apply to. (SPOILER: Not this one, it seems.) So I don’t think it’s so much commenting on horror franchises as following what has since become standard for other types of franchises (from the MCU to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS) – having a deep bench of likable characters to keep bringing back and occasionally killing one for dramatic purposes but usually keeping them around because people like them.

So that’s the good news about SCREAM VI. If you’re still intentionally watching them at this point you must be on board with, or have accepted, that they’re mostly just a horror soap opera. You watch them hoping your favorite characters will survive, enjoy meeting new characters to hope will also survive, watch them outlast and outsmart the assholes who keep pulling this masked killer shit. And this is a solid version of that.

It has some well executed horror set pieces, and being set in a city puts a different spin on it. The best sequence in any SCREAM movie is still that opening stretch of SCREAM with Drew Barrymore, and it really captures what I think is so scary about suburban and rural areas – that feeling of being in a big brightly lit house at night, looking out the window into a dark space, you can’t clearly see what’s out there but if it’s a person that’s bad because nobody is supposed to be out there! I feel safer in a city, because there are usually street lights and people around, but VI puts that on its head – there’s a scene where they make it semi-believable someone could get stabbed in a crowded subway car without anyone seeing it.

Casey Becker wasn’t able to make it to the neighbors to ask for help, Laurie Strode’s turned their lights off and pretended not to be home. In the New York City of SCREAM VI you can run into a bodega and both the customers and owner will try to help you, but this Ghostface overpowers them. (Mason Storm can’t be there every time.)

Maybe the coolest and most Craven-y setup is how it’s established that Sam and company can see Dan through his window across the alley, so he’s able to see across to them and try to warn when Ghostface is in the bedroom. And he can’t get their attention so he tries to call and Sam is slow to respond because they’re all in the middle of an actually pretty touching bonding moment.

That scuffle (like all of them throughout the movie) is fairly brutal – I like that it’s no longer always chases ending in a death. Now people get slashed and bashed up but try to keep going. I love the gimmick that Dan passes a ladder across to their window and they try to climb across. I have some questions about a guy who keeps a ladder in his apartment if that’s where that came from, but I’m okay with it because it makes for a thrilling suspense sequence.

The advertising really emphasized A Ghostface Like You’ve Never Seen Before, and with the murder memorabilia museum looking like the Batcave I expected an action movie type escalation to a heavily trained and armed killer. Other than the bodega scene that’s really not the case – this is a traditionally fallible masked killer, and my favorite example of him coming off as a doofus is when he’s terrorizing Gale in her fancy apartment and she suddenly asks to put him on hold. He’s flustered and does a comical little “Whuh?”

I’m not gonna be specific about the killer or motive here but I do want to get into some things I like about the climax, so this is a SPOILER paragraph. One thing that’s “like we’ve never seen before” is that there are revealed to be three killers, and we get to see more than one at a time, doing famous Ghostface moves in unison. As I should’ve guessed, the climax takes place in the theater, and they have fun with relics from the previous movies being re-used now – the TV that killed Stu killing again, Kirby being re-stabbed by the knife she was stabbed with years ago, etc. Kind of reminiscent of the best part of SCREAM 3 – Sidney being chased through a very accurate set of the home she was previously chased through. I also like that Sam and Tara perform the most brutal kills in the movie. They’re still playing with the idea that Sam thinks she has this darkness inherited from her serial killer father, but so far she’s used it only in self defense.

Okay, now I want to go to another level of SPOILER. Like many mysteries, I think the movie is most exciting at the beginning, when possibilities are open, and most disappointing at the end, when we’re stuck with a specific solution. The opening to this one is genuinely thrilling in the way it breaks with series tradition and makes it feel like anything could happen. It starts as a straight forward twist on the SCREAM opening. We see Samara Weaving (THE BABYSITTER) sitting at a bar, texting with a blind date who can’t find the place. For half a second I thought, “Oh, cool, they got Samara Weaving in this!” and then I thought “Oh no, they’re gonna kill Samara Weaving in this!”

But she gets to use her Australian accent and she’s playing a film professor who’s doing a course on slasher movies, so she blurts out some of the traditional cringey dialogue analyzing the subgenre, but what I love is that it’s her who cringes as soon as it comes out of her mouth, trying to be impressive over the phone and instantly regretting it. The blind date of course is a stalker who lures her into an alley before switching to the voice and attacking her in the costume.

But WE ARE STILL IN SPOILER TERRITORY HERE after a long shot of Ghostface crouched down looking at her he pulls the mask off. He’s played by a young actor who is not a superstar but who I’m familiar with from three different roles. And we follow him home to his apartment where he talks to another person on the phone apologizing for jumping the gun on this big killing spree they’re planning. We genuinely have never seen anything like this in a SCREAM, it seems to completely uproot the whole story structure. Except then the double twist is that the person on the phone is not who this murderer thinks it is, and he himself gets stalked and killed by a different Ghostface who lectures him about killing the film professor. So it’s already back to being a whodunit, but it really opens up the possibilities for the killer’s motives, with us obviously wondering if it could be Tara working in a vigilante capacity.

AND MORE SPOILERS. That opening sets us up for twists and turns we’ve never seen before, but when the masks do come off it feels like pretty much the same old shit. There are details about the killers that vary from what we’ve seen before, but not hugely so. It’s also kinda similar to the killers in Williamson’s own SICK, though the tone of VI is always more outlandish than SICK so it didn’t give me as much whiplash to see such hard-to-swallow human behavior at the end. Still, it’s disappointing because the earlier scenes promise they’re taking us to new places, only to drop us off in familiar territory. It really deflates the subversion of SCREAM conventions that made the beginning so exciting (not to mention the social-media-spread-conspiracy stuff that was the most current aspect of the story).

This is the series built on being meta – what do you expect me to do, not anaylze the shit out of every layer, every use or non-use of a familiar trope? But yeah, I’m overthinking it, and I need to accept that there’s no way for SCREAM’s conceptual lightning to strike the same place twice, and no incentive to change the style and format drastically enough to really shake things up. It’s gonna be contemporary but it’s not gonna be the full on A24 artier version of SCREAM, or the Mike Flanagan raw emotional version, or the David Gordon Green risky revisionist version. When Craven himself addressed horror remakes it sure didn’t seem like the Rob Zombie version, or the Platinum Dunes version, or even like the remakes he himself produced. SCREAM will always be stuck being SCREAM, standing on the edge of horror, making some funny observations, getting a little more credit for them than it deserves, but hopefully knowing enough to be a little scary and thrilling in its own right. So what I most appreciate about SCREAM VI is that it subtly adds something new and important in how often the survivors physically embrace and otherwise express their love for each other. 2020s emotional honesty could overtake ‘90s ironic detachment before this thing is over with.

I can’t deny that I root for these characters, and I’m relieved whenever it turns out that one or more of them may or may not survive a scene where it seems like they’re getting killed off. Somehow, most of the cast returned. And I know I will too when the next one comes out.

p.s. I noticed a deep cut Wes Craven reference. The bodega is called Abe’s Snake. In 1975 Craven directed a porno called THE FIREWORKS WOMAN under the pseudonym “Abe Snake.” (Why not Abe’s Snacks, though?)

p.p.s. I’m sure we’re gonna see Sidney’s husband (a character from part 3) and kids in the future, but don’t forget we’ve never seen Sam and Tara’s horror fan mom.

p.p.p.s. I have some more thoughts on how Spyglass’s SCREAM vs. Dimension’s SCREAM represents changes in culture, both good and bad, but I might as well save them and see how I feel when the next one rolls around. (This had the biggest opening weekend of the series so far.)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023 at 3:41 pm and is filed under Reviews, Horror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

43 Responses to “Scream VI”

  1. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    March 15th, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    I had a good time at the movies and all, but I felt the whole “we’re a franchise now” bit basically admits they plan to run this thing into the ground. Then, wait for it, in SCREAM IX they can have the alternate timeline and bring back Dewey.

    SCREAM VI ain’t bad, but as of seeing this, I will call PHANTASM the best 5-or-more horror series, on the strength of having (mostly) the same actors.

  2. I am now convinced that Samara Weaving is secretly a bred clone of Margot Robbie.

  3. The last one had way too many survivors and this one has me convinced that, if ‘Radio Silence’ made Scream 2, Randy would’ve survived and gotten a romance subplot in Scream 3. And you can argue that’s a valid direction for the franchise to take, but shit, if we’re going to make this into the Chronicles of the Serial Killer Busters (and oh shit, they actually do have their own female Dexter, don’t they?), feels like they should’ve kept Sid and Dewey around instead of introducing a bunch of newbies who will sign multi-film contracts on the cheap. I mean, carry on the legacy or blah blah.

    These things really don’t feel like horror movies to me anymore. They’re action movies now. You don’t worry about Jenna Ortega dying anymore than you worry about Rambo dying. They don’t comment on trends in horror movies–the last one was about Star Wars fandom, for some reason–they didn’t really tackle torture porn or found footage with any enthusiasm, now they’re not even bothering with elevated horror or mumblegore or crowd-funding or anything else going on in the sphere at the moment. Seems like they’re just playing the hits with whatever few members of the good old days they can scrounge up, like an old band that’s gone full Ship of Theseus.

  4. If you don’t agree with me, please still respect the restraint it took not to make a joke about ‘bred Margot Robbie clones’ from the comment above mine.

  5. I had a lot of fun with it, but I can admit it feels a little unnecessary and the “franchise” labelling doesn’t really feel earned. Doesn’t it need to have at least one in-universe spinoff to qualify? THAT could be interesting, because then you’d have a whole different set of iconography and methodology of the killer, the mystery could be about anything since it’s not tied to the Woodsboro history, and you could focus on someone else from the series who was just a side character.

  6. Idea for SCRE7M:
    “Oh no, this isn’t a sequel or a franchise or a rebootquel…the killer is making a cashgrab!”
    “What does it mean!?”
    “Nobody gives a shit anymore!”
    *Randy appears*
    “Hey everybody, I was in a coma!”


    “Oh no, the killer is making a sequel that pretends to be the only official sequel and ignores every other sequel!”
    *Randy appears*
    “Hey everybody, I was never killed!”
    *Dewey appears*
    “Neither was I, also this is the first time that I see you all since 1996! Weird that that there were no copycat kills since then, right?”

  7. I’m all over the place with this one. Kaplan is right that they don’t really feel like horror movies any more. They’ve always been a mix of horror and thriller, but the horror has gotten less and less as time has gone by. Which is a shame. And yet I still get a kick out of them as a thriller. “The last one had way too many survivors” At least it had some stakes by also having some kills – 2 newbies and 2 oldies. This one I had to stop and think, did anyone even die? *SPOILERS* Yeah, we got the random kill at the beginning (along with the killer), but only 1 person in the actual group dies and it’s no one we even know. We barely met her. I really try so hard to not let it bother me that characters can basically get gutted by a big fucking hunting knife and not only live, but come immediately back after a quick trip to the hospital and RUN up to the group, or just get a sling or even just a blanket around the shoulders by the paramedics. It’s established in this universe that this is a thing. But it does bother me.

    All that aside, I love a final girl who kicks ass. You can almost give me anything in the rest of the movie, but if you have a final girl going gonzo on the bad guys, I’m a happy camper.


    I knew right away when the one girl said they’d lost her brother what that meant and who the killers were. Faking her death didn’t even throw me off. And, really? Dad can just lug a dead body into an active crime scene to switch out? Okay, whatever. I didn’t see that there was another brother, ultimately ending in three killers, though. I do think that for the entire franchise it’s been a bit of a cheat that Ghostface is played by a stuntman. You never get an idea of who the killer really is by body type or movement because of this. Then things happen like in the last movie when the killer was supposed to be that waifish teen girl. I mean, I know Dewey was supposed to be kind of a broken down drunk, but I think he would still, as a grown ass man, be able to muscle her arm away from himself as she attempted to stab him. But I don’t know, maybe it’s a good thing because it always makes Ghostface a little more of a cypher and it’s frightening that he’s quick and strong.

    I thought the same as Vern, that the advertising had me thinking Ghostface was going to be something different, like a badass trained killer guy or maybe even something a little supernatural. So, it was a bit of a let down when it was just the same old thing. It would be kind of interesting if they even took Ghostface totally away from caring about scary movies, the Stab/Woodsborough history, all that. But maybe that would take it away from the core of the movies too much. Also like Vern I was surprised and interested when the killer in the first kill was immediately unmasked. But that didn’t last. One question I had, though, why did they kill him in the Ghostface mask, making Ghostface calls? They don’t care about that shit and he’s not part of the group they’re messing with. They just needed him out of the way, so why the theater? The same could be said of the psychiatrist.

    I can’t decide if I’m annoyed or okay with how unhinged Dermot played it at the end. I mean, you’d have to be bananas to do all of that, but it was a little much. And speaking of pscyhos, I’m glad Mindy was more likeable in this one. I really disliked her in the last one. She was totally callous about the deaths of her friends and possible future deaths of her friends/family. Randy may have been more annoying, but at least you could see that he was freaking out underneath everything and was going on about the rules as a way to cope and survive. She almost seemed to enjoy the entire experience.

  8. I have complex feelings about these new Screams (and honestly, everything since 3) because there’s a lot that I think they do well that gets trampled on by how much they do weakly.

    I’ll try to be vague but (SPOILERS) I think there’s some interesting commentary to be made with the reveal of the killer, their motive and what their plan actually is. But I think a lot of those strong elements get lost/buried in the mega performances and the ludicrousness of the reveal.

    On one hand, I’m stoked to see an actor I like go HAM, but I also feel like earlier entries (1 and 2 especially) were able to use that energy more effectively to make their point, and later ones feel like they’re at odds with themselves.

    And yet, I’m still having a lot of fun with the movies. I just hope that they can make all these things gel a little better next time around.

  9. I love the fuck out of these movies. All 6 of them. I hope they make 6 more. I did feel like for most of the review Vern was too busy reviewing what he wishes these movies would be instead of what they are, but then I was happy he realized that himself by the end.

  10. I agree, I LOVE this series. Only slasher series that’s been worth a shit as far as I’m concerned unless you count Psycho. But that’s because they’ve always been thriller as much as anything…big set pieces, comedy, satire, and fun characters. I never quite get it when I look at forums and people will talk about how tired this series is then talk about how amazing Friday the 13th 6 was and how they really need more Jason so hope the rights get settled!

    Also, SPOILERS but at this point if you’re reading a discussion thread about a movie you really should be expecting them…I think people wishing there was more of a bloodbath at the end, or more main characters killed, are forgetting the body count of the series. In the first movie, the big climactic bloodbath has exactly ONE (1) kill of a main character, whch happens early…after that the only victim is cameraguy. Mostly you get 20 minutes of chase sequences (masterfully done btw).

    Second ramped up killing characters and seemingly killed Dewey, killed a main character in the climax, cool.

    Third killed Cotton, not much of a character and in the end no mains died, a bunch of whowasthatguyagains, and the unfortunate demise of the awesome Parker Posey.

    Fourth no main characters die, and a few whozits for the climax.

    Fifth, two real characters die, the bloodbath at the end was minors.

    So this movie has never had a history of the old-timey slasher where the chick from Friday the 13th shows up to get stabbed in the head, or Freddy wipes out the full cast of the third in the fourth dumb movie. The fans would revolt if that happened and I agree…kill em judiciously, but it gets tired if it happens always.

    They been makin em I’ll keep seeing em unless it REALLY goes to shit.

  11. Thank you for articulating my frustration with the fictional Stab series. If there are more Stabs than Screams it’s hard to use them to comment on the actual Scream movies.

    Mindy was flat out wrong about a lot in her rules speech. She mentioned Laurie Strode as an expendable legacy character? Did they think she’d die in Ends when they wrote this, but then they still left it in? She couldn’t have been talking about Resurrection because she was talking about legacy sequels.

    It also really rubbed me the wrong way that Gale said Sydney deserves a happy ending. Fuck you, pay your lead actress what she deserves for part Fucking 6 in the franchise.

  12. My question is, Is this appreciably more enjoyable than the last one? Thus far I am a completist of these, but more out of ungrounded completism itself than a deep and abiding interest in the franchise. It’s more like spending 28 years chasing the dragon of Part 1 or laboring under the unconscious misperception that I will win a free burrito if I watch the first 10 of these or something.

    In any event, I was a bit disappointed with the last one, even though it had its strengths (Jenna Ortega, David Arquette, some respectably gnarly if only intermittently imaginative kills). The initial trailers and oh-shit-we’re-taking-Manhattan energy had me pretty psyched like this was going to be something special, but then it seemed like the reaction was more along the lines of “about as good as the last one, give or take.” So is it (a) better than the last one or (b) about as good, give or take?


    Kirby must be the world’s worst FBI agent, and Gale an unbelievably bad journalist, since neither of them knew that the detective in charge of the case was the father of one of the killers from the last movie. The guy wasn’t using an assumed identity or anything. This information would have been readily available.

  14. Bullshit that they teased a beheading and then didn’t so much as slit anyone’s throat.

  15. The Undefeated Gaul

    April 26th, 2023 at 12:48 am

    Plot-wise it may not make much sense, but this was a lot of fun. In fact Part VI has given me the most entertainment/least disappointment out of all the sequels since Part 2. I’ll happily keep watching these.

    Kaplan – with regards to beheadings, there was a severed head in the fridge at the beginning. Does that count or do we actually need to see it happen?

  16. Just watched this joint, and, lo, it *is* appreciably better than the last one. This is a legit very good SCREAM picture. Stylish, great change of scenery, charming and charismatic central cast, lean and mean after having shorn most of the legacy cast baggage. Solid kills. Not too much Ghostface-voice phone taunting. I said before that we needed a Neve-less SCREAM, and we got it, and it works. Baton successfully passed! The lead sisters are awesome and really come into their own here, and I am down with the core four. Very pleasantly surprised with this one.

  17. I personally thought it was a step down from the fifth, and ultimately better than the third but at the same time the most inessential and least interesting of the series conceptually. I enjoyed it, I was entertained while it was playing, but it didn’t seem like there was much in the tank. It’s also in that category where it feels like it’s missing some of the appealing elements of the previous films but not really fresh or substantial enough to feel like it’s providing something new. I’m not sure what you’d call that? SPIRALism perhaps?

    I’m tempted to say it’s pretty good for a Part VI, but think about it Part VI’ actually have a history of being pretty good; ROCKY BALBOA, JASON LIVES, SAW XI, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, I’m not the biggest fan of THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY myself but I get it and, yeah, I’m gonna say it, CITY UNDER SIEGE. Heck, I’m even a FREDDY’S DEAD fan. So maybe I’m just insane. But I guess I would call this “good for a high numbered sequel but not the number six specifically”.

    What was the point of Gail falling back on her gutter-press side and writing another exploitative book yet again just to annoy the characters for five seconds but then earn their complete trust for the rest of the film? Why not just have her be someone who has moved on from all that?

    I will give the Nu-Nu-SCREAMs some credit for being seemingly the one legacy franchise that’s content to have seen the series’ lead character lead a well adjusted, happy life since we last saw them. A shame it’s slightly tainted in real life by also being the franchise where they didn’t want to pay the actress who plays her much money.

  18. I won’t begrudge you or anyone else for being underwhelmed, but I will attempt to engage here a bit, by way of clarification and not arguing. Possibly you’re being tongue in cheek w/ the comparison to other Part 6 installments in franchises, but I’m too small-minded for JASON LIVES or ROCKY BALBOA to influence my enjoyment of this.

    Essential? For me, SCREAM 1995 is the only truly essential fillm in this series. I was not a big fan of any of the others, including SCREAM 2, which I find overrated. More generally, the idea that a Part 6 should strive to be an “essential” addition to a continuing story seems like a big ask: I’ve set the bar at “fun” or maybe “rewatchable.” In fact, at this point, the random and episodic nature of things is actually part of the appeal. SCREAM EUROTRIP is in no way essential but is probably the kind of vibe I’m after at this point — Woodsboro is thoroughly tapped out for me for the foreseeable future. I feel like the Woodsboro milieu greatly constrained SCREAM 4 and SCREAM 5 and is not like the town itself has any great iconography, milestones, or vibe to speak of. Moving the proceedings to Canada York City was precisely the kind of shake-up this very stale franchise needs, and I thought they made great use of alleys, bodegas, decrepit old movie houses, tenement courtyard spaces, your occasional brownstone, a city college campus, a subway. No 60 minutes on a cruise ship for this one. Not just box-checking either: the ladder-between-apartments, subway, and bodega scenes were among the best.

    Likewise, I felt lik with the legacy characters, too many of them is actively holding the films back, like they lack the confidence to commit to the new characters. Neve Campbell is great and had a great run, but we’ve really tapped out the Sydney character in my opinion, and I think Ortega and Barrera have made the franchise their own. Gail was surprisingly adequate in this, and I found the scene at her apartment to be one of the better scenes in a movie that had a lot of pretty good scenes. If you had Dewey and Sydney additionally cluttering things up, I think it would’ve been bad. Hayden P from Part 4 was already pushing it, and I found her to be kind of a wash to a negative tbh.

    As far as Gail doing that abbreviated heel turn, I mean, I’m not mad at that. Honestly, it seemed like a pretty Gail thing to do — like, yo, frog, I’m a scorpion, what do you expect? Shaping up when she’s called out on her bullshit also is a very Gail thing to do. I won’t defend it as supremely earned, but it’s an indulgence I’ll allow. It’s like people recovering way-way too quickly from major stab wounds or falls or deaths of romantic partners: objection overruled counselor; I’ll allow it.

    A penultimate thought is that the killers and their setup and resolution / final set piece were a lot more fun this time around. Completely absurd and ridiculous, but fun and much better scenery chewing. I found the killers in Part 5 to be utterly lacking in charisma or menace or anything, so, just those two goofs doing the scooby-doo chase in a house in Woodsboro was pretty lame and too much of a re-tread of Part 1’s conclusion (which I get was kind of the point, but it was still pretty lame).

    A final thought is that this film makes the all-too-common mistake of calling PSYCHO II underrated (it’s clearly overrated), but then make up for it by executing a far, far, far, …. better stab through the mouth than PSYCHO II’s attempt at same. The best part about 5 was Jenna Ortega + fairly gnarly kills, and this film brings the gnarly kills and Ortega (and I’m warming up to Barerra) and all the other stuff besides.

  19. No, I was quite sincere in my observation\realisation that there are a surprising number of good or at least distinctive and interesting PART VIs, and that this doesn’t quite make the cut for me, but is still decent in the wider category of high numbered sequels.

    I wouldn’t have objected to Gail’s heel turn if they did anything interesting with it, but they didn’t, and if anything the film would have worked better without it. Just felt like a tick box moment. I’m not against boxes being ticked in sequels, but they should be cool motifs, tropes and flourishes not plot elements IMO.

  20. Right, but it’s the specificity of the Part 6 comparison that threw me. Like, If I’m watching SCREAM 5, I don’t think, “wow, this is way [better/worse/whatever than FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING” and then increment forward to JASON LIVES as my benchmark when I get to SCREAM 6, then NEW BLOOD when it’s time for SCREAM 7, and so on. I do not have a concept of “in general, how good are part 6s,” much less one that I could or would bring to bear as a kind of benchmark for evaluating any given part 6. I’m just evaluating it compared to other movies in the franchise or general had-fun-with-it-ness or maybe recent movies in the franchise.

    Here, again, I don’t begrudge you being bothered by Gail’s brief heel turn, because all kinds of weird things bother me. Honestly, the continuing bad Billy Loomis CGI (a little better this time but still very uncanny valley) bothers me, but I accept this as my own quirk. At the same time, it’s such a short, perfunctory “Gail gonna Gail” that I have trouble seeing it as a legitimate criticism as opposed to a peccadillo. It would be one thing if it were a drawn out sub-plot with anything significant hanging on it, but it’s just not. Moreover, characters like Gail and Dewey are so broad and extra by design that I can’t see the fuss. I could see the film working fine — possibly even better — without Gail, but, as I noted, the scene in her apartment was good enough that it made her a net plus for me this time around.

  21. To be clear it’s not that I sat down and said “oh boy, I can’t wait to see this latest addition to one of my favourite types of films, the Part VI”, it’s that I sat down, watched SCREAM VI, and I thought “well, that could have been better, but it’s pretty good for a Part VI, I guess” and then I thought about it, and realised that actually there’s a weird number of Part VI’s that I think are good and\or surprisingly interesting or otherwise inspired, in a way I didn’t find this to be. That’s all!

  22. Fair enough!

  23. I think the problem with comparing Scream 6 to many of those other movies (and I can’t believe a Police Academy was included!) is that many of those are kind of their own thing in a way. Rocky Balboa was like 25 years after the last one. Majesty’s Secret Service is almsot a reboot so they get to start a bit fresh, and Jason 6 is a big reset too…plus isn’t that one a lot of fans hate? It seems closer to an actual movie than most of the others though.

    Star Tfrek 6 is a bit closer…a genuine sequel that comes not too long after the last one. It’s different when you take 25 years to do a sequel and the weight that comes with that and the time to get it right, rather than cranking one out. I definitely liked Scream 6 more than Terminator 6.

  24. After really hating the previous one, I wasn’t exactly rushing to check this out, but I did watch it out of boredom last night and it was a huge step up from part not-five, but also made me realize that I will probably never truly enjoy the Radio Silence ones.

    On the plus side: They had a bunch of really good suspense scenes. I’m sure Craven would’ve made the ladder or subway scene even more exciting, but they worked as they were. Their try to be “topical” worked better this time with “A bunch of assholes believe every conspiracy theory as long as it paints the good guys as evil” instead of “Toxic fandom bad”. The protagonists came this time across as more believable, especially in terms of their friendship. Although Randy’s niece (I still can’t remember any of their names) still has way too much fun with being surrounded by death and once she joyfully accused her girlfriend of being the killer, just like she did with all of her supposed friends and even her brother in part 5, I was just hoping for her to die. It’s weird, we all know the “asshole who deserves to die” slasher movie trope, but this might be the first time that the writers really try to make this character look like a comic relief that surely everybody in the audience will love. “Funny coded”, as Vern put it.

    And I really, really loved the first 30 minutes or so! I was disappointed by the kinda lame first kill, but then the movie kicks into high gear and changes the formula in refreshing ways.When they went into the store and the killer just started to stab a bystander and grab a shotgun, I was so ready for the greatest from-shit-to-great recovery since the crappy RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was followed by the incredible DAWN OF THE ETC.

    But then it kinda fell apart, starting when Gale randomly found the Killer shrine without any explanation other than “I investigated”. At that point stuff seemed to happen only to fill the runtime. And worst of all: This is the 2nd time in a row that I guessed correctly who the killers were, because Radio Silence try so damn hard to NOT make them look like the killers, it’s ridiculous.

    Talking about ridiculous, that the protagonists in horror movies get badly injured yet still are able to fight the killers, is a well known trope, but they took it here to frustrating heights. Like in one scene the girlfriend gets seriously gutted, the knife slices from her abdomen to her chest, but she still runs around for five minutes and can even climb from building to building? Or in the climax Wednesday gets stabbed into what must have been her lung and it doesn’t affect her more than any of the random slices that she takes to the arm or leg throughout the movie? I’m sorry, I have a high tolerance for playful unrealism in service of an exciting movie, but unless you are making a Monty Python movie, there are limits for how many injuries someone can take!

    And honestly, this movie had so little to do with horror movie rules, that they really should’ve cut the extremely emberassing scene where they are explained. Especially because at this point they are really grabbing for straws and just come up with the dumbest shit they can think of. (“This is a franchise, so there are decapitations!”)

    In conclusion: I wasn’t unentertained. It really had its qualities and was a HUGE step up from the previous one, but I still couldn’t full warm up to it. As a random slasher flick I would probably be more accepting towards its flaws, but as a SCREAM sequel, it sadly fails to live up to the legacy. Even Gale’s scenes felt uninspired and like reshoots. Good to have Kirby back though.

  25. Oh, also I really love it whenever our new heroine goes into beast mode, but this might lose all novelty soon.

  26. I wouldn’t worry about it. Both of the new heroines are out. One got fired for speaking up for Palestine and Jenna Ortega bailed because she’s too big for this shit now. After alienating Neve over money and killing Dewey for shock value, the world’s worst producers are left with an all-star cast of (checks notes) Gale Fucking Weathers. I haven’t seen producers shit away a sure-thing franchise this fast since the Salkinds insisted SUPERMAN III be a Richard Pryor movie.

  27. Hearing stuff like that makes me realize how important Twitter was for my movie news. So they better treat Hayden Panettiere well, I guess. Not sure if I would want to watch a SCREAM about the most infuriating horror nerd ever and her nice, but bland brother only.

  28. Couldn’t agree more about part 6 >> part 5, and a big part of that was shaking loose of a lot of the legacy stuff. No idea what they are going to do with part 7 and whether it will be any good, but it was going to be dicey proposition anyway, and hopefully this will push them to do something fresh (fingers crossed for Dewey force ghost or maybe we find out Dewey is like Palpatine and there are more them — Hayden’s character from 6 was actually one of several Dewey clones).

  29. Picked this up at the library so the scumbag producers wouldn’t get a dime of my money. It’s got some decent set-pieces but good god, this is some of the worst screenwriting I’ve seen in a major release in a minute. All the SCREAMs rely on some pretty unlikely plot developments, but they mostly took place in ersatz movie environments: postcard-perfect small towns with police departments with like three deputies, quaint little colleges that don’t really exist, a phony baloney PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE style Hollywood movie studio. That makes the implausibilities easier to swallow. Here, we’re in New York Fucking City. The NYPD and the FBI are involved. There is no fucking way the solution to this mystery holds a single drop of water in this context. It is not believable for one second that nobody—not the cops, not the feds, not “hell of a journalist” Gale Weathers—discovered the killer(s)’s connection to the unwieldy slop of a backstory before they implemented their idiotic plan, which consisted of not utilizing the overwhelming combined force of the NYPD and the FBI and instead setting a trap with a bunch of unarmed college students and one tiny blonde with a pistol. It’s fucking insulting.

    And hey, while we’re at it, doesn’t getting stabbed hurt anymore? They need to do a factory recall on all the knives in Manhattan because they are clearly broken. Motherfuckers get stabbed like fifty times and just keep running around like nothing happened. Wednesday Addams gets shanked in the gut at least twice and all they do is give her an arm sling and let her walk home. One characters gets Rodney-Kinged-With-Knives but is laughing and joking at the end. His sister nearly bleeds out on the train but then comes RUNNING up at the end like she got a paper cut. I swear, it was like the end of PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, where everything works out so hilariously perfect you think it’s a dream sequence. I kept expecting Abe Lincoln to show up like in KISS KISS BANG BANG.

    Also when did Billy Loomis become a digital character? Dude looked like he was in a cut-scene from RESIDENT EVIL 2. If that’s the best digital de-aging you can afford, just do it AMERICAN WEREWOLF style and make him a zombie.

    Overall, an embarrassment. These producers deserve to lose their franchise.

  30. I felt that way about the de-aging in the last one, too. I thought it looked so bad that I would have rather they didn’t do it at all. I remember thinking if I was the director I would have cut those scenes after seeing how shoddy they turned out.

  31. I lack the emotional investment in the SCREAM franchise or any particular SCREAM film to defend this one, and one of my main gripes with part 5 (which I didn’t like) was the awful Billy Loomis CGI. Also, while we’re at it, the whole “child of Billy” plot conceit itself is thoroughly dumb and is made more dumb by the fact that an otherwise sane-seeming person in a non-supernatural film world is having “visions” of the dead father she never knew. Of course, this also exists within an utterly ridiculous pan-SCREAM Loomis family history of convoluted lore and mythology, which itself exists within a film world where there a new pair or trio of loonies decides to engage in a copycat murder every couple of years now into its fifth copycat iteration and where there is an ongoing conceit of a parallel STAB film world that gets its own sequels and reboots, and where traumatic events routinely drive erstwhile well-adjusted and productive citizens to become highly organized and effective serial/mass murderers who orchestrate elaborate whodunit copycat murder conspiracies and tableaux, and where the victicms and their loved ones tend to be quite casual and resilient in the face of close friends either being violently murdered or being revealed to be murderers. I can’t really buy the idea that part 6 is the one that crosses the rubicon of verisimilitude. In reality, there never was one, and if there was, we have been in the “JASON LIVES” era of plausibility standards since at least part 2.

    In conclusion, the Billy Loomis CGI *is* indeed turrible.

  32. I didn’t even get into how fucking stupid the heroine’s entire psychological profile is. She is a totally normal, loving person who only wants the best for everyone around her, yet also really, really enjoys murder. This is not a type of person that exists. The type of person that enjoys murder lacks empathy, and the type of person who has empathy doesn’t like murder. I don’t care if you’re got the Billy Loomis psycho chromosome. It’s just too dumb to even begin to entertain.

    As for the rest of the idiocies on display here, I can buy that the SCREAM movies take place in a universe where every fifth person is a psychopath just looking for a motivation to go on an intricate murder spree. That is the buy-in for this franchise. But you gotta do the bare minimum to make me believe that said murder spree is at least somewhat plausible given the parameters you have established. This one doesn’t even come close to achieving that. Lord knows I can go with a dumb plot, as long as said plot is dumb only because it knows that a smarter plot wouldn’t allow the awesome to happen. But this not that. It’s not a smart movie that knows I’m smart enough to know it’s playing dumb. It’s a dumb movie that not only doesn’t know it’s dumb, but thinks I’m as dumb as it is. And that pisses me off.

  33. That’s funny. For whatever reason, I found the go-for-broke idiocy of this one somewhat endearing, plus I liked the new leads and the idea that we slowly but surely (if not always intentionally!) moving on from the OG cast. Your analysis of nested layers of dumb vs. meta-dumb vs. meta-meta-dumb is quite possibly correct in a strict sense, but I have thought they were all dumb since way back, so a certain amount (read: a lot) of dumb is pretty much priced in for me, at this point, and I don’t get too caught up in the film’s intelligence or what I think the film thinks I think it thinks about our comparative intelligence.

    Speaking of which, I always felt like the narrative around Wes Craven’s sophistication and intelligence (and the fact that he was probably very briefly and unsuccessfully a college professor) to be kind of silly. That is not a knock on Craven, just that I think the record will show that he did a couple of really good and/or ahead of the curve films and a decent number of bad and/or dumb films, but the need to have some kind of narrative — in this case the “Wes Craven is the thinking person’s horror director” — seemed to outstrip the actual intelligence of the films, which was always moderate at best. Craven did like to wrestle with more interesting interesting premises than “unkillable guy goes a-stabbin,” but those same “intelligent” films could also be quite unintentionally goofy or even cringey. I love NEW NIGHTMARE, but it is silly. Just bo back and watch those Bob Shaye or Craven scenes, like where Shaye tells Nancy/Heather, “We’ve done the tests and you really are rating right up there.” It’s all very goofy and not always deliberately so. That is a long way of saying that I feel like most of Craven’s “smart” ouevre is not nearly as smart as it thinks or the mythology of its smartness would suggest. And that’s fine, there is still a lot to enjoy in Craven’s best films. I just think that “smart” is all very relative here.

    I also will admit that I am probably not the bellweather for a “good” SCREAM film, since the things that others seem to like are things I don’t. For instance, I’ve always found the SCREAM ghostface voice actor voice modulator banter with his victims to be super obnoxious and anti-menacing, and the SCREAM killers are always revealed to be punks, emos, and lame-os (technical term) of one form or another. So, two of the things I liked best about Part 6 were less legacy cast and less Ghostface phone banter, whereas it struck me that the modal SCREAM franchise stan was bummed out at both developments.

  34. Coincidentally just yesterday I had to think again of the otherwise great ladder scene, specifically of how that one character was sliced open 2 minutes before she somehow managed to do some athletic accomplishments without her guts falling out.

  35. And Mr M: The new heroine keeps seeing the ghost of her father whom she never met, but that she is a nice girl with a beast mode is what you think it the most unbelievable part about her? Come on!

  36. There isn’t really an aspect of the character I find more or less risible than any other. I think she’s badly conceived, poorly written, and indifferently performed. But I don’t think she’s just supposed to be someone who can get extra violent when pushed too hard. That’s standard heroine stuff. She’s supposed to ENJOY killing the same way the Ghostfaces do, except that aspect of her character, which you’d think would come bundled with a whole host of pathologies, only seems to come out when she’s acting more or less in self-defense. The waters are further muddled by her sister (unrelated to Billy Loomis as far as I can recall) cold-bloodedly stabbing a guy through the mouth and twisting the blade while saying a badass one-liner, then five seconds later giving her sister side-eye for allegedly taking too much glee in stabbing the guy who’s trying to kill her. It’s just bad writing all around.

  37. Mr. M: It’s going to turn out that Randy is Wednesday Addams’ father, so she enjoys killing so long as she can tie it into a movie franchise.

  38. Jesus, that crap really has five sequels already? I was vaguely aware of the existence of two. Did it get a remake yet? (Or is it still “reboot”? Or has the word “reboot” been “rebooted” to become “remake” again?)

    I wonder how many sequels that other trash, “Saw”, has by now. I remember reading about six at some point? Seven?

    There will be, no doubt, some television series filmed for both of them, or perhaps there already are some.

  39. Okay, I can’t be the only one who hopes that now that Neve Campbell and Kevin Williamson are back, the next one will be one of those “We just ignore a certain amount of sequels”-sequel, the Radio Silence once suddenly never happened and Dewey is back.

  40. Feels like they’re waving the creative white flag on this one. I really like Neve Campbell’s whole vibe, and good for her getting her money or whatever, but this role and story are beyond played out. If it’s not full-on bonkers Billy Loomis gets resurrected from the dead, Stu escapes from a maximum security medical facility, Gail Weathers gets viciously decapitated in the opening scene, Dewey has been hiding out in witsec, or at least some kind of ridiculous extreme plot gimmicks, then I’m out. By “out” I mean “will still watch, but probably grumpily.”

  41. It’s gonna be torture on my completism but I can’t in good conscience pay for or promote that movie in any way when it comes out. I hope Campbell and Williamson get paid well and I’ll try not to judge them but I do think it reflects poorly on their character that they would be willing to work with that scumbag company after what they did. It’s like working with the Daily Wire at this point. (I’m not telling anyone else what to do, that’s just how I feel about it for me personally.)

  42. Vern I don’t know the story, what’s the scumbag company involved with this?

  43. Spyglass Entertainment fired part 5 and 6 star Melissa Barrera specifically for a couple of pro-peace and pro-Palestine Instagram posts, and then defamed her by releasing statements about having a “zero tolerance” policy toward bigotry and antisemitism. Some fans are angry about dumping the main character in the middle of her story, which I understand, but I wouldn’t be too upset about that if it was normal creative difference stuff. In this case it’s specifically that these guys support a genocide and made an example out of her so other people wouldn’t speak up. (Somehow their precious slaughter continues months after a minor celebrity posted against it.)

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