Cast your mind back to just over a year ago, and you may recall that iconic slasher movie series, Scream, was dusted off (after an eleven-year hiatus) and given a bit of a reboot. The movie – simply titled Scream – was released in January 2022, it introduced a bunch of new characters, and became the fifth instalment in the series.
When it arrived in cinemas, Scream was met with a positive response from both critics and audiences alike, and this ensured the movie was a financial success. As such, within weeks of making its debut, another entry was hastily put into production, was given a 2023 release date, and was officially titled Scream VI.
Fast-forward to this week, and Scream VI is now playing in UK cinemas (having arrived here on Wednesday), and will open in the US on Friday. The movie – directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett – stars Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy-Brown, Mason Gooding, Hayden Panettiere, and Courtney Cox, and follows the survivors of the previous movie, as they leave the town of Woodsboro and head off to New York.
In the film, a year has passed since the Woodsboro Legacy Attacks, and sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter, along with twins Mindy and Chad Meeks-Martin, are now living in the Big Apple. Tara, Mindy, and Chad attend the local college, while Sam works a couple of jobs in the city and watches over her sister.
Although all four are still working their way through the trauma they experienced in 2022, life has regained some kind of normalcy. Most of the group are getting on with day-to-day activities, and Sam has regular counselling sessions with a therapist.
Her hope is to work through her pain and come out of it the other side in a better shape, however, her recovery is soon thrown into doubt, when a series of murders take place, which she becomes linked to. These murders appear to involve the return of the Ghostface killer, who is bumping off another collection of victims and leaving a specific calling card at the scene of each crime.
Could this killer be someone from the past, or is it the handywork of yet another copycat? And more importantly, why is Sam being dragged into the murders?
With the bodies beginning to pile up, and Ghostface becoming more brazen with the kills, Sam and the group have to work together to try and survive another killing spree. But can they stay one step ahead of the killer, or will they finally fall victim to Ghostface?
Now, here’s the thing with Scream VI. Before I get into the ins and outs of the movie, it is important to point out that this film is a sequel to a requel.
For those who are still not familiar with the term ‘requel’, last year’s Scream (aka Scream 5) was classed as a requel, which means it was a reboot-cum-sequel. It is a film which essentially restarts a dormant movie series, by introducing a load of new characters, while at the same time bringing back some of the legacy actors from the previous films, in order to connect everything together.
Recent examples of requels include Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Jurassic World (2015), and Halloween (2018). All of these films belonged to existing movie series, all introduced new characters, and all brought back elements from the past in order to reboot the franchise.
All of these films listed above were also very successful, and made a lot of money at the box-office. And because they were successful, they in turn were followed by sequels, which had the tricky task of continuing the story moving forward.
I say “tricky task”, because all three of the examples listed above dropped the ball when it came to providing a sequel to the requel. While audiences might have enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they were less than impressed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), which caused a great deal of upset amongst fans.
The same thing happened with Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), as well as Halloween and Halloween Kills (2021). Both franchises had good starts, but they completely ballsed things up with their respective sequels, and this alienated the core fanbase in the process.
Why do I mention all this? Because based on what has come before, it stands to reason that Scream VI would follow suit, and also balls things up. Sequels to requels don’t fair too well, and the break-neck speed with which Scream VI was produced, suggests it would head in the same direction.
So, imagine my surprise to find this is not the case at all. Scream VI does the thing that Star Wars, Jurassic World, and Halloween all failed to do: It succeeds!
Not only is Scream VI not a divisive movie, a frustrating failure, or a dumpster fire, it’s actually pretty damn good. Sure, it’s not the best entry in the series, nor is it quite as strong as last year’s instalment, but this is still solid stuff.
Scream VI is engaging, entertaining, and most important of all, it is a sequel to a requel which works! And it works because it understands its core fanbase don’t want a reinvention of the format, nor do they want a whacky new direction; they simply want to see the ongoing story maintained, continued, and respected, with a few new faces thrown into the mix for good measure.
The new faces that pop up in Scream VI are largely here to either become victims or suspects. As with the previous five entries, Scream VI maintains the ‘whodunnit? formula’ that fans have become accustomed to, and this means that once again, everyone can play along as characters come and go throughout the film.
Some of these new faces include Samara Weaving, Tony Revolori, Jack Champion, Josh Segarra, and Dermot Mulroney. Almost all of them do a fine job in what they are given to do, even if one of them does serve up a somewhat ropey performance (you’ll know who once you’ve watched the movie), and all add something to the central mystery.
Sure, these new actors don’t get to make a huge impression, but for once this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing because Scream VI is less concerned with setting up a load of newbies, and more interested in focusing on its core group of characters that have carried over from Scream (5).
One of the strengths of Scream VI is its desire to ensure the existing players get plenty of screen time, so they can become the legacy characters of the future. This film is about fleshing them out a little more, and embedding them into the fabric of the Scream series, so they become intrinsic to its continued success.
I’m not giving away any spoilers as to who lives or dies, all I will say is that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, as well as writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, haven’t set out to piss off fans. They give room for the returning actors to grow, in order to build on what has come before, and this means the film doesn’t just bump fan-favourite characters off, to get a quick reaction.
The other core strength of Scream VI is its approach to Ghostface, who this time around is less concerned with hiding in the shadows to pick off victims, and more interested in getting down to business. We live in a world where bad things happen all the time, often in broad daylight, and Scream VI reflects this.
In this movie, Ghostface has no qualms with walking into a convenience store, knocking at the front door of your house, or just turning up in populated areas to do some slicing and dicing. This is a more upfront, confident Ghostface to what we have seen before, and this approach to the character gives the killer some bite.
Usually, the best way to survive a Scream movie is simply to stick close to other people. But what do you do if you run into a store to escape a killer, they follow you in, and then have no issue with attempting to kill you in front of other people?
This is where we are now at with the Scream movies, and this simple evolution of Ghostface really strengthens the character. A great deal of suspense and tension can be squeezed out of a killer who doesn’t shy away from their intentions, and from a film that makes it clear there is nowhere to hide.
Outside of the core cast and Ghostface, Scream VI benefits from a touch of humour, the usual self-referencing hoopla that has become synonymous with this series, and some brutal death scenes. Pound for pound, this film offers up plenty of entertainment and zips along quite nicely too.
Where it struggles a bit, is in the opening sequence and during the film’s slightly silly climax, as neither scene feels quite up to the standard of some of the previous entries. What is served up here is absolutely fine, but no one will come away from this film claiming the start or finish are the best the series has to offer.
I also don’t believe anyone will come away from Scream VI claiming it to be their favourite entry in the series in general. What I expect will happen is that most people will say they enjoyed it, will feel happy that it didn’t destroy the series, and will leave the cinema content they got what they paid for.
Sure, some might grumble that Neve Campbell is missing (she sat this one out over a pay dispute), and they may say this film isn’t quite as sharp in the satire department as some of the other films, but it still delivers. There’s fun to be had in here, and a few nice touches too.
Outside of the Child’s Play franchise, I can’t think of many horror series which have managed to continue entertaining audiences with the same consistency as the Scream films. There’s something about this series which helps it to stand the test of time, and Scream VI certainly doesn’t mess things up.
OK, so there are a few signs that some of the ideas are wearing a little thin, and Scream VI does play it safe to get past the ‘requel sequel’ curse, but as I said earlier in this review, this is a solid entry for the series. If you’re a long-time fan, Scream VI is enjoyable, perfectly satisfying stuff, that doesn’t wear out its welcome and leaves the door open for more.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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