Scream 6 Review – Still Killing It

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Twenty-seven years ago audiences watched in stilted disbelief as Drew Barrymore was terrorized on screen through the use of a phone call and some horror movie trivia. It’s one of the greatest film openings of the 90’s, and in that moment, we knew that horror master Wes Craven had done it again; he’d created another masterpiece. Craven revitalized the slasher sub-genre of horror in 1996 by taking the tropes that had defined the niche corner of cinema for decades, and twisting them to craft a film going experience unlike anything audiences had encountered before. Now, in 2023, the terror continues with Scream 6, as Ghostface moves out of the suburbs and into the city.

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The Plot

Sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) Carpenter are trying to work through the trauma of their close encounters with death in last year’s Scream (2022). They each have different ways of moving on; Sam is attending therapy and chooses to go through life cautious and with her guard up. Tara wants to leave the past in the past and do her best to lead a normal life. However, after moving to New York City to attend college, the normalcy that Tara had worked so hard to surround herself in, comes crashing down. There’s a new Ghostface stalking victims through the crowded streets of the city, and he’s leaving a wake of bloodshed and death that seems inescapable.

Ghostface with Shotgun
Ghostface with a Shotgun in Scream 6

Also Read: Ranking The Scream Series Ahead of Scream 6

The Critique

Part of what makes Scream such a fun and entertaining franchise — especially for horror fans — is its comedic dissection of the rules and road maps that the genre clings to. Even Scream 6’s change of setting is a purposeful homage to the trend of long running horror franchises uprooting their cast and moving them to a large city in a later sequel. Leprechaun 5: In The Hood takes place in Los Angeles, and Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, of course, places the unstoppable killer in New York (technically most of it takes place on a boat).

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While these city sequels tend to be bottom of the barrel entries, desperate to keep a franchise fresh enough to keep churning at the box office, Scream 6 is the exception. The series’ signature sharp writing delivers thrills, kills and plenty of screams while using its New York backdrop to enhance the story, rather than treating it as a gimmick. One significant piece of the Scream puzzle that’s notably absent is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). She’s the scream queen, final girl that has acted as the back bone of the franchise since the original. So, when it was announced that Campbell would not be returning to reprise her signature role, fans got worried.

Surprisingly, Sidney’s isn’t really missed in Scream 6. I would even argue that the sequel is elevated by her absence. No disrespect to Campbell or the character of Sidney, of course. It’s a portrayal that is highly lauded in the horror community, and she’s widely considered to be one of the greatest final girls to ever grace the screen. However, the franchise is strong enough to stand on its own, and with the addition of Jenna Ortega — a modern day scream queen with incredible talent — the series needs a certain degree of separation from the original cast in order to continue its growth.

Courtney Cox in Scream 6
Courtney Cox in Scream 6

A slasher is only as good as the depiction of its kills. That’s a motto that I stand by. While Scream 6 doesn’t have an array of kills as creative as the Friday The 13th series — the sleeping bag murder is iconic — it keeps the kills coming with enough consistency and gore to scratch the itch of its blood thirsty target audience.

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Scream movies are knows as much for their opening segments as they are for their surprising killer reveals, acting as book ends to launch, and then cap off, the film with high notes. I’ll hold my tongue on the film’s final act (I don’t want to give anything away), but will say with a firm and unapologetic confidence that Scream 6 has one of the strongest opening scenes in the entire franchise. It’s the type of opening that, much like the original, sets the tone and washes the viewer with the revelation that they are about to be thoroughly entertained.

In Conclusion

Horror movies tend to get sequels because they’re traditionally cheaper to produce and have devoted fanbases that show up at cinemas. However, more often than not, the legs of a franchise begin to waver and weaken the further entries get from the original. This is what makes Scream such a unique entity. With the exception of Scream 3 — which leaned heavily into campy B-Movie territory with mixed results — there isn’t a weak film in the lineup. Scream 6 is the rare example of a slasher sequel that is still absolutely killing it.

8/10

Like a Dragon: Ishin

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Articles Published: 225

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film & TV Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the podcast, The Movie Divide.