Full disclosure: This reviewer approached Scream VI with an equal measure of high hopes and trepidation, having loved the first 75 minutes of last year’s “requel” before being feeling completely underwhelmed by the heavy-handed final reveal. So it’s with great pleasure that I can report the sophomore entry from Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett finds the directing duo really raising the bar, clearly having picked up a few lessons from their first outing; and whilst round six is not a franchise game-changer per ser, even with its big city backdrop, the nods to previous entries, tension, shocks and violence are guaranteed to resonate with fans of the franchise, and there’s plenty of inventive touches to warrant yet another welcome entry this time next year.
The main buzz this time round is the fact that the terror is transferred from Woodsboro to the Big Apple, and whilst it does lend the franchise a new flavour, it never feels as if we really are in New York, because except for a fantastically creepy underground set-piece, there is no real sensation that the action is unfolding in that much of a different setting. A film that I felt really captured the spirit of a change of scenery, for example, was the third entry in the Die Hard series, which switched the claustrophobic locales of a skyscraper and an airport to the big city in spectacular fashion. I would have loved to have seen the directors make more use of that, but perhaps they have something more grandiose up their sleeves for next year’s potential sequel.
Despite much of the original cast missing from this instalment, the newer additions more than compensate for everyone lost along the way. This is especially the case with Melissa Barrera, who takes the spotlight this time round now that Sidney hasn’t returned and she makes the perfect final girl, with an additional touch of evil given her genealogy. Jasmin Savoy Brown also brings much of the levity in the film, reminding us why Scream was such the huge self-aware hit it was all those year-s ago and how big of a role Randy played in that with his horror movie rule monologues.
Of course, we can’t not mention the return of Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby Reid and while it feels a tad far-fetched to see her playing a cop now, it works relatively well, especially in tandem with Dermot Mulroney as the lead officer assigned to investigate the spate of new Ghostface murders. Gale Weathers gets a decent amount of screen time here again too, but her role doesn’t really serve that much of a purpose, but she gets to play out some fun references to the original film that inject a bit of playful nostalgia into the proceedings.
Scream has always been more about its self-awareness and the tension and paranoia of not knowing who the killer or killers in our midst are and that’s the case again here, only this time we get a far bigger dose of violence and gore when Ghostface strikes and this is something that gives this entry a much fresher feel than any of its predecessors.
To give anything else away would be spoiling things, so that’s as far as we can go, but suffice it to say that the finale is much more in line with previous entries and is sure to satisfy die-hard Scream fans.
Despite me having lost a bit of faith in the franchise this time last year, Scream VI has really resurrected the saga – one hell of a feat to pull off this far down the line, as is pointed out throughout the film in Scream’s trademark overtly self-conscious fashion. On that note, I think it’s safe to end this review 100% convinced that on the strength of the latest instalment, we’ll all be sitting down to enjoy a seventh outing in theaters very soon.