Review: ‘Scream VI’ (Slicing Up the Big Apple)

Ghostface relentlessly earns that R rating.

It’s been a year since the most recent Woodsboro killings, and four survivors have relocated to New York City. The twins Chad and Mindy (Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) attend local Blackmore University while Tara’s older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) over-protectively lurks wherever her little sister goes. As the weirdos start coming out for Halloween, a fresh set of killings attributed to a new Ghostface (voice of Roger Jackson) puts everyone on edge. The masked slasher seems more fearless than ever — he knows too much about the survivors already — but the wildcard is still Sam herself, accused of masterminding (and getting away with) the latest Woodsboro killings for being her father’s daughter.

The Radio Silence team returns with co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett working from a fresh script from Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt from Kevin Williamson’s original characters; they’ve even imported Ready or Not alumni Samara Weaving and Henry Czerny into the cast. Mirroring the college craziness from Scream 2 while borrowing a cue from Jason Takes Manhattan, Ghostface gets into all the big city tropes of dark alleys, small apartments, too-close neighbors, and abandoned buildings. The trailers have touted a more dangerous masked killer, one willing to drop anyone in the way and use whatever is handy to get the job done; having the Stab costume being more popular than ever doesn’t help when looking for a suspect in a city with 8 million people. Who will die, who will survive, and who is/are the newest slasher(s)?

Scream 3 leaned too hard into the comedic and meta bits and nearly killed the franchise, but Scream 4 recouped that misstep by finally going in a different direction with a nod to its 1980s Wes Craven slasher roots. The fifth film straddled a generation gap to introduce a new cast linked to legacy characters, and the seeds sown from the “requel” have fully taken root in powering the franchise forward. There are still tropes built into Scream that persist — flawless and easily accessible voice modulators; the ridiculous amount of punishment Ghostface takes but always gets back up; being able to see and hear in a restrictive mask, soundless breaking and entering skills, and movement in a limiting costume — but those all exist as a wink to the audience. Keeping the amusement organic and the kills graphic have always served the franchise best, and this creative team’s dedication to inventing new situations for their villain to exploit is everything a slasher fan could ask for.

One particular set of images fans have noticed from the trailers is The Shrine, appearing to be an old theater converted into the “Ghostface Museum of Murder.” The details of the scene is a collector’s scrapbook complete with notes, sketches, and artifacts… and of course the “father death” costumes taking center stage. It’s an eerie trophy room not unlike the one famously depicted for Batman’s Batcave, and it’s much too cool a set not to have something wild happen in. If no one makes an actual coffee table book documenting everything that went into this set piece, it’s a huge merchandising opportunity missed. The filmmakers have done their research, and this is more proof they not only love the franchise but strive to get every detail correct.

Another firm rule of the Scream franchise is the lack of anything supernatural, one that most enduring franchises either begin with or crutch onto early to keep resurrecting their cash cow. The fifth film touched upon a clever workaround for that, and viewers will get another reminder why that’s important. Considering the lower budget for this film at only $35 million, it’s a sure bet that it has the potential to earn a mint and guarantee at least one more film to be made (or not). The cast had their work cut out for them as did the VFX department, but it all looks great in spite of one or two glaring leaps of faith in the film’s final moments. What’s a little coup de grâce between Ghostface fans, right?

Scream VI is rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, brief drug use, a post-credit bit, and kudos to the marketing department cranking out so many wonderful new one-sheet posters!

Four skull recommendation out of four

Speak up, Mortal -- and beware of Spoilers!

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