While in the cinema foyer, waiting to watch Scream VI, one of the managers asked me if I was prepared to be scared! My immediate reaction was, “from a Scream movie?” Scream was never a scary movie but a film that parodied other slasher movies. That was when Wes Craven was at the helm, and there was none of this “meta” business (whatever that means!) Now, after five movies and the Scary Movie series, this parodies a film that was parodying other such films, the series has become more of a parody than the parodies. If that makes sense. The bottom line is that Scream VI is terrible, and this franchise must stop now.
Sam Carpenter and her sister, Tara, survivors of the last Ghostface attacks in Woodsboro, now live in New York to escape their past. However, the past has caught up with them as another series of grisly murders by the mask-wearing killer starts happening again. Only this time, there is nowhere to hide in the Big Apple.
The original point of Scream was to shake up the tired slasher sub-genre of horror. All the values you’d expect from those horror films were played out in the now-classic 1996 movie. This being a sequel to requel (yes, they did make that into a word), seems to have fallen into the trap of the franchise’s own list of cliches.
1, The movie starts with the surprise opener. Generally, with a guest appearance from an actress, you’d expect to last the film, but they only get the first 5 to 10 minutes. This time, however, you don’t get one but two surprise moments.
2. You get the introduction of the surviving characters from the previous film/s; this time, it’s the Carpenter sisters and two of their friends, Mindy and Chad, plus a host of new characters who may or may not survive the movie.
3. You have the returning cast members from the series. There were some you’d expect to see, others you thought had died but hadn’t.
4. You get the wink-at-the-audience knowingly moment when a character tells you the rules of slasher horror films, only this isn’t an original, a sequel or a reboot but a franchise, so the rules don’t count. To top this off, you get the conversation about what is the best in other franchises, a conversation no one ever has or is ever likely to have.
5. You get plenty of moments when the heroes come face-to-face with Ghostface, and several people are disposed of, but the heroes escape, slightly battered and bruised, but you have to keep them alive for the final showdown.
6. You have characters stabbed several times, and in real life, there is no way they could survive, but here they come back again and again.
7. The showdown, where the heroes finally see the unmasking of Ghostface and the long explanation of why they committed the murders, coming across like a bloodier version of Scooby-Doo. This leads to the 15-minute chase where the killer/s try to dispose of the heroes, but the heroes always fight back no matter their state.
8. Lastly, the “this cannot happen again” moment that you know will happen again because people will rush to see this, and it will make the film company enough money for another sequel.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that this has become stale and tired, lacking any sense of humour, with more brutal murders and a Ghostface that uses a shotgun in one part. In slasher horror films, if they follow the rules, never use a gun. It’s too easy. If Michael Myers had to choose a shotgun or a machete, it’s the large knife every time. You care little for the characters and don’t care if they live or not.
The performances are workmanlike for this kind of film, but you never expect award-winning turns. Courteney Cox, returning as reporter Gale Weathers (the only returnee from the original; this is the first film without Neve Campbell), tries to inject some passion into the project while everyone else reacts, over-reacts and reacts again.
Scream VI isn’t very good, and while it’s a slight improvement to the previous film, it’s not good enough. If this series is to continue, it needs to bring something much more original or different to the table. The parody is becoming a parody of itself. I’d rather watch Jason Takes Manhattan.
2 out of 5
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Courteney Cox, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Dermot Mulrooney, Hayden Panettiere
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick and (based on the characters created) Kevin Williamson.
Running Time: 122 mins
Release date: 10th March 2023