“Scream VI” – A Violently Fun Slasher That Lacks The Depth of its Predecessors [Review]

As “requels” began to dominate not just horror, but film itself, Scream 5 (or just “Scream” as it was titled) held a meta funhouse mirror up to that very idea and did something creative and fun.  Last year, it took the world by storm, and given its massive success and acclaim, the Hollywood machine simply couldn’t help itself.

The result is another sequel, released barely a year after the previous one, in a movie that echoes Scream 2’s release after the original Scream.  And that’s not the only place the connections end.  Scream VI goes to interesting new places, both literally and violently, but it doesn’t quite have the same heart and soul as its predecessors.

Ghostface Takes Manhattan
Opening in New York City (well technically Montreal faking NYC), Scream VI gets off to a great start and shows us that we’re not in Woodsboro anymore.  Nor are we in Hollywood or some random college campus, we’re in the middle of Manhattan.  A place where you’d think it’s easy to lose yourself in a crowd, but at the same time, it means Ghostface could be anyone, anywhere, amidst millions of people.

Scream 6
We even get a meta reference where a character is watching Jason Takes Manhattan. That movie gets criticized for only going to NYC for the third act, but at least they actually shot in Times Square, rather than faking it all in Canada…

Back are the self-titled “Core Four” of Sam, Tara, Mindy, and Chad, along with returning legacy character Gale Weathers (RIP Dewey and RIP the salary negotiations that failed to bring Sidney back), as well as fan favorite Kirby, who’s honestly one of the best character returns this franchise has had.  As Ghostface slices his way violently through the Big Apple, our team of characters have to stick together, try to survive, and most importantly, try to figure out who’s doing this…again.

The city setting is one of the best things Scream VI has going for it.  Thus far, Woodsboro has been the epicenter for three of these movies, and the whole suburban setting (as well as Woodsboro looking completely different every time) was getting kind of stale, and setting it among the largest city in the world makes a lot of sense.  Sure there are safety in numbers, but it’s equally easy for Ghostface to murder someone, stash the costume, and lose himself in a crowd.

Scream 3
With tons of people already in costume (some of which as Ghostface), it’s extra hard to tell where the next kill might come from.

Everything in Excess
Like with any sequel, everything has to be bigger and better.  If Scream 5 was the “requel” of the original, this is very much the “requel” of Scream 2 (even if Mindy refuses to admit that in her meta lecture about franchises, which we’ll get to).

The kills are more numerous, they’re bloodier, more over the top, and we see Ghostface use a variety of weapons we haven’t seen before.  Sure he’s still got the classic knife, but wielding a shotgun in a convenience store is particularly brutal because of just how raw and real it feels.

Scream 5
Ghostface is holding nothing back this time!

Plus, much like Scream 2, we see the characters still reeling and affected by the events of the previous film, which in universe and real life have only been a year.  Sam is still struggling with her own identity, particularly among a sea of online conspiracy theories, which definitely would happen this day in age with a situation like this.

As previously mentioned, Kirby gets a lot to do in this one and her progression makes a lot of sense, given all she went through.  She’s just as bold as she was in Scream IV, only this time with a badge and gun.  Honestly, the only legacy character that feels out of place is Gale.  At risk of sounding sacrilegious, she’s a lot less interesting as a character without someone like Dewey to balance her out.

Scream 4
Actress Hayden Panettiere was very open about her own struggles, and this role is her return to acting after a 5 year gap. So it’s genuinely heartwarming to see her come back, both on screen and in real life.

Granted, it makes a lot of sense that she would show up, given that Scream 5 established she lived and worked in NYC.  But plotwise, she doesn’t have a whole lot to do.  And you could say the same thing about all three legacy characters in Scream 5, but that was kind of the point that that Ghostface was trying to make a requel.  This movie even sort of admits that she doesn’t really have a purpose being there and it kinda shows.

Scream 1
That said, this movie is the first time Gale ever speaks to Ghostface on the phone, and she gets a pretty awesome chase scene!

Franchise vs. Sequel
Ultimately, the issue with Scream VI is that the movie itself isn’t really sure where it fits in with the meta commentary.  Previously, every Scream movie felt like it had a purpose with what kind of horror it was trying to satire, Scream 2 was the sequel, Scream 3 was the trilogy, Scream 4 was the remake, and Scream 5 was the requel.  To be fair, you could say these were all just as much cash grabs, and while that’s true, it doesn’t take away everything else they did.

Scream VI exists in a strange place where it doesn’t just wanna be a sequel to a requel (which it ends up being).  Mindy’s whole meta commentary speech claims that it’s a “franchise”, but it kind of already was that going in, so it never really justifies its own existence.  As a result, it ends up feeling a lot more hollow that previous entries.  Sure Scream 3 has its flaws, but it’s definitely saying more than Scream VI ever does.

By no means are we saying this is a bad movie.  Between its NYC setting, the fact that it takes place over Halloween (complete with a ton of costume Easter Eggs), and the increased gore make a damn good time to see this movie, especially in a crowded theater.  But what Scream VI boasts in surface polish, it lacks in depth and doesn’t really hold it up any that came before.

What did you think of Scream VI? How did it compare to the other sequels?  Let us know in the comments!

For more reviews, news, rankings, and other fun horror/sci-fi/fantasy content, follow Halloween Year-Round on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube!

You can also shop Halloween Year-Round merchandise on Redbubble and support us on Patreon!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s