By Jack McLaughlin
“Scream VI” is the latest installment in the long-running slasher franchise that’s managed to stay consistently fresh with each passing addition.
The story takes place one year after the last film. The lovable group of survivors from the last series of Woodsborough killings are all together in New York City for college. All is going well until a new ghost-faced killer emerges, plotting to kill the main characters with mysterious intentions.
The biggest advantage of this new installment, surprisingly, is the lack of screentime the legacy characters receive. With Sidney and Dewey no longer part of the movies, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is the remaining character from the first film that has an active role in the story.
While the loss of the other two characters leave a noticeable gap, the film relies on the characters established in the last film and this is where viewers get the opportunity to enjoy the story without the need for the older cast to keep intervening.
If the last film did not sell you on the new cast, this one absolutely will. This was important to do considering these characters will be responsible for carrying the franchise forward.
The latest group of survivors, dubbed “The Core Four” in the film, all continue to have fantastic chemistry with each other. It’s hard to pick a favorite from the new cast, but the standouts from the group are Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown).
However, this doesn’t stop familiar faces from dropping into the story. Kirby (Hayden Panettire) from “Scream 4” makes a return in a supporting role. Her part of the story allows for an exciting bit of fan-service while also making sure that it doesn’t overshadow what the film wants you to focus on - the new cast.
Characters aside, “Scream VI” has some of the most tense moments in the entire franchise.
From the opening kill that subverts your expectations at every turn, it lets the audience know that this installment will once again use the established formula of a slasher movie and twist it in a way that surprises viewers.
The best encounter with Ghostface is the bodega sequence with Tara and Sam (Melissa Barrera). This entire moment had perfect tension that will leave you holding your breath, with a payoff that keeps the identity of the killer an exciting mystery.
Another fantastic decision made by the filmmakers was to set this film during Halloween. This allows the film to get creative with setting up encounters with Ghostface, as the costume is a very popular pick in the city.
This makes the potential suspects expand from outside of the characters established in the story. Anyone wearing the costume in the city can be considered a threat to the main characters and keeps the viewer from being able to make an educated prediction of who the killer is.
The characters needing to determine whether or not the many people wearing the same costume as their attacker makes the subway sequence another example of tension executed perfectly in the moment. The small chance that the many people on the subway dressed as Ghostface could be trying to kill the main characters kept the moment from being predictable, cementing a classic moment for the series.
A key moment in all six “Scream” movies is the mystery of who is behind the mask. It almost always ends up being the best part about the film, and this one did not disappoint. The reveal was fantastic, and the motive behind the attacks made sense in the context of the new films.
But what is this franchise without its abundance of meta humor? This film delivers on that important hallmark, making jokes about many film franchises that all feel the same with a never-ending story with predictable plots.
The newer type of meta humor found in these movies that make fun of online film discourse is also present here and funnier than ever. As someone who partakes in film discussion online, Mindy’s line making fun of Letterboxd users was particularly hilarious to me.
“Scream VI” continues to propel this long-lasting franchise forward with a formula that is constantly evolving to keep it from becoming predictable. This latest installment is easily one of the best in the series, and I hope this energy continues into the next addition.
A- : Long live The Core Four!