NOTE: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR SOME BASIC STORY ELEMENTS HERE, BUT NOTHING TOO REVEAL-RELATED OR INVOLVING WHO SURVIVES/DIES.
I was a really big fan of Scream 5, though I do not think I wrote a full review on it last year when it came out. It had problems–it’s not like I had it as an 8/10 or higher or anything–but it was solidly at least 6.5. It was enjoyable, the new characters were fun, and the blend of the past meeting the future of the franchise felt very natural and deserved.
So I went into Scream 6 with relatively high expectations. For me, the Scream franchise had gotten progressively worse as it went on until we reached the fifth iteration. Part two was worse than the original. Part three was inferior to two. Part four was the low point. So with Part five rebounding in a big way, I figured the ship had been righted, and we were in for another solid, if possibly unspectacular, outing.
Did this “requel sequel” live up to that hope? We shall see!
For the first time in Scream history, Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott does NOT return, and we are given as little regarding that as a throwaway bit of dialogue from Gail Weathers that she “sends her love” to Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Samantha (Melissa Barrera), but has gone into hiding with her family.
And you know what? I didn’t care about that at all. I think the lack of Neve was overblown by fans. It was time for the franchise to move on from her and focus on its next-gen characters. Is it a shame that the producers low-balled her on their offer? Sure! That sucks. But also, the story did not need her, and at a point, having her constantly return just feels hackneyed.
So what we get instead are the “Core Four” of Scream 5–Tara, Samantha, Mindie (Jasmin Savoy Brown), and Chad (Mason Gooding)–having moved to New York City to attend college. Samantha is in therapy and being extremely overprotective of her sister, who resents that she is basically not being allowed to live her life. Samantha is processing her trauma by going to an endless string of therapists who don’t know how to help her. Tara is processing her own by making reckless decisions and just generally ignoring it. Which sounds like a plot point! But don’t worry; it gets dropped by the end of the first act.
In addition to them, we get two other returning characters in Courtney Cox’ Gail Weathers (now the only star to be in every flick) and Hayden Panettiere as fan-favorite Kirby (from Part 4, where she was one of the few good aspects of that one). And then there is the typical new cast of suspects and/or victims. I’d run through them, but let’s be honest: they are one-dimensional and not particularly well-done.
Scream 6 has the typical Scream movie cold open centering around a kill, and for a few glorious moments, it actually seems as though the franchise is going to do something bold and new! I won’t say what, but when I was watching how it played out, I genuinely thought “Oh, what an interesting direction to go in!”. This was after Scream 5 subverted the cold open trope by having its victim survive and making her attack central to the movie, so I was lulled into thinking the open here might do something even more brave!
But no; it’s all a misdirection as the franchise settles into the comfortable sweatpants it just can’t throw out. And from there… well. We get a Scream sequel. With everything that entails.
TWO UPS AND TWO DOWN FOR SCREAM 6
+The kills are… fine, I guess. I’m struggling to come up with some REAL Ups here, so let’s start there. After Scream 5 upped the brutality of the franchise, Scream 6 raised the stakes even further. We get some absolutely gruesome deaths in this one, if that is your thing. They aren’t typically mine–I love slashers with all of my heart, but the amount of gore/brutality we see on screen has never been a selling point for me–but if the viciousness of murders is your thing, you’ll probably have a good time here.
+Tara and Samantha are strong across the movie, both in their chemistry with each other and their processing of what happened to them a year ago (well, at least until the movie drops the ball on Tara’s trauma and turns it into a love story). I’ve seen mixed reviews on Barrera’s performance, but I thought it was no worse than “slasher adequate”. And Ortega is turning into a pop culture dynamo who can’t be stopped, so she was her ordinary extraordinary self here.
They play off of each other extremely well. Their dynamic is believable. They do their absolute best with what the movie is giving them!
-It’s hard to say too much about the third act without spoiling the Big Reveal, but suffice to say that the third act is a terrible fumble and the Ghostface reveal is frustrating, repetitive, and underwhelming. It’s not impossible to see the Who of the reveal coming, but that’s just because these movies, since their inception, go out of their way to make EVERYONE suspicious… regardless of how little sense it makes. My wife actually called the Who when I leaned over to ask her who she suspected late in the second act! But the rationale is silly, and when you get the heel turn, the new characterization is absurd. Every villain in this franchise has to be off-the-wall and CrAaAaAazY after the revelation, and that continues here. It’s tiring.
The third act cat-and-mouse isn’t awful or anything, but holy god is there some ridiculous level of plot armor going on with who survives what happening to them. In the first Scream, Dewey was the exception for how he survived an attack that you would think would leave him dead. Here, that kind of survival is the rule. It starts feeling like these characters are Highlanders or something.
-When the best Screams are funny, they are effortlessly so. This one felt like it was trying SO HARD to be humorous, but none of the humor landed for me. It wanted to have jokes, but I’m not sure if the delivery of the actors was off or the dialogue just wasn’t witty, but it felt more like someone trying to be funny than actually being funny.
And I know it’s a staple of the franchise at this point, but when Mindie breaks out into her “Oh, this is a FRANCHISE now!” and starts explaining the “Rules Of A Franchise”… it’s no longer insightful or “meta” or fun. It’s just tedious. Jasmin Savoy Brown does everything she can, but the script she is given to work with in that scene is just horrible. I was honestly uncomfortable in my seat watching this talented young actress–I know she can do better because I watch Yellowjackets–deliver these insipid lines.
-Screw it, I’m doing a half-a-down because something really bothered me. Twice in this movie, we get a moment where Ghostface is down and defeated, and a protagonist is over them, about to finish them off. And twice, Ghostface miraculously springs to life and stabs our hero while their arms are raised and ready to strike.
In the same movie.
That’s like a wrestling match just repeating its own spots because it can’t think of anything better to do.
It’s a Scream movie, so there is a basic level of generic enjoyment to be had here. And it’s better than parts 3 or 4. Well, maybe. It’s startlingly close, actually. But… it’s still not unpleasant. There are chases and attacks and gore and blood. You either like that stuff or you don’t. But past that, the story is incredibly weak, no new ground is tread, and everything feels like a watered down version of what all came before. We were promised “New York, new rules” and a Ghostface like we had never seen before. What we got was leftovers we’ve been eating for years now.
2 thoughts on “Scream 6 Review”
I’ve always found the meta-ness of the Scream franchise tiresome after about the second movie. In the first, the kids are all horror fans and the killers would call people up to discuss slasher flicks. So when the characters start making references to movies, it made sense. In the the second, there’s another killer and they just released a movie about the events of the first movie so again, it makes sense for the characters to get meta. After that, characters are just meta because the franchise deems it to be.
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That’s exactly how I felt about the spiel Mindy gives in this movie.