Home » ‘Scream VI’ is Razor-Sharp, Vicious, and Sentimental [Review]

‘Scream VI’ is Razor-Sharp, Vicious, and Sentimental [Review]

In the history of horror movies, so few franchises have been able to sustain a level of quality and originality like the Scream franchise. Which is amusing because there is no other horror franchise that so self-aware and self-referential. There are a few obvious factors that contribute to the success of the series, the first being the genius of Wes Craven, who rejuvenated the horror genre back in the ’90s with the first Scream movie. Craven sticking around to helm the first four installments in the franchise ensured a certain level of quality that is often rare in the franchise  landscape. The second factor being the brilliant original story and screenplay by Kevin Williamson, which was  an impressive and unique mix of homage and originality. 

Scream (2022), also known as Scream 5, rejuvenated the franchise once again with a solid combination of legacy characters and fresh faces alike. The flick poked fun at the idea of toxic fandom, as well as rebooting a legacy franchise, which as we all know, is the norm nowadays. Scream 5 was just as self-referential as Scream 4, if not more so, and contained plenty of easter eggs for fans of the franchise to latch onto. Making it easier for hardcore fans of the franchise to solve the core mystery, which in and of itself was a genius comment on toxic fandom.

In Scream VI, the legacy cast fades into the background, but still looms large over the story. The new core group also leaves Woodsboro, relocates to the Big Apple, and encounters an entirely new version of Ghostface… 

Scream VI absolutely blew me away. The core four behind-the-scenes, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett from Radio Silence handling the directing duties, with James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick penning the screenplay, showed such a deep reverence for the source material, and put together a masterful slasher that accentuates everything that is great about this franchise. Ghostface has never been more terrifying, violent and shrouded in mystery as he (or she) is in Scream VI. Subvert expectations, take the audience down a dark alley, and stab them repeatedly with a butcher knife. In a sick way, the filmmakers made the movie that Richie from Scream 5 (played by Jack Quaid) wanted from the movie within a movie franchise, Stab. Repeated sequels can easily lose the audience. But Scream VI is a masterclass on how to make a legacy sequel that both builds upon the origin story, while also pushing the franchise forward in a fresh and new direction. 

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Technically speaking, the filmmakers paced the movie effectively, shot the movie beautifully, and fused throwback scenarios with thrilling new scenarios leading to an onslaught (literally) of creative and fun kills (particularly the convenience store scene). The dialogue is funny and charming. The core mystery is protected by the usual array of misleading one-off comments and suspicious facial expressions. Not only was the core mystery protected by these misleading factors, but the mystery is tangled up in such a deep web that you are pulling from every single subsequent Scream movie for an answer as to who the killer is. And not just for clues, but for characters as well. Scream VI is a literal shrine for each previous movie, and each previous Ghostface. And each movie, 1-6, feels more connected than ever.

The entire cast for Scream VI is great. The core four on-screen group, played by Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy-Brown and Mason Gooding, all return from Scream 5, and each of them brought so much energy to these characters and played their respective parts so well. Melissa Barrera is great as the lead and fits the Neve Campbell prototype so well. Jenna Ortega is a budding superstar, without a doubt. And the sibling duo of Jasmin Savoy-Brown and Mason Gooding are funny, tough and most importantly, not annoying.

Scream VI also introduced newbies, played by an array of young and expressive actors, and added Dermot Mulroney to the mix. Samara Weaving returned to work with her Ready or Not directors and made a memorable appearance as a film school professor. And of course, the use of Gail Weathers worked effectively once again. For the sixth straight time, her character was written and played well. It is no doubt a little goofy that she keeps coming back under different pretenses in each movie, but she makes it work while being unironically made fun of for it throughout the movie. Also, not to be forgotten, Scream VI delivers the long-awaited return of Kirby Reed, played by Hayden Panettiere, who has changed so much in the last 12-years. But it was a refreshing return to form. I had thought that it would be strange to not have Sidney Prescott involved, but Neve Campbell and Sidney Prescott seemed to have a shared desire to never return to Woodsboro. Art has a funny way of imitating life, and vice versa. Without Sidney, the intermingling between the legacy characters and new characters was still consistently charming. Especially since a Woodsboro bond was formed between those from Woodsboro, who have experienced similar trauma. I found it to be a really effective double entendre, where the Woodsboro family is essentially the same as the Scream family, and that really adds to the reverence that I personally have for this franchise.

Overall, I believe Scream VI worked on so many levels. The technical aspects, writing, performances and legacy references are all perfectly weaved together and executed. My personal favorite aspect of this movie is the ‘Ghostface Shrine’ which I found to be a satisfying trip down memory lane that should excite fans of the franchise. Leave your expectations at the door. Ghostface is reliably entertaining, wildly unpredictable, brutally violent and witty, just like the Scream franchise as a whole. Scream VI is a razor-sharp slasher, with edge of your seat thrilling sequences, but most of all, Scream VI is a beautiful tribute to one of the great horror franchises of all-time…

Scream VI is playing exclusively in theaters as of March 10th, 2023.

Wicked Rating: 9/10

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