‘Scream VI’ Review

Time after time

Oh, good—the original Kevin Williamson/Wes Craven Scream film is 27 years old. Great. Wonderful. That’s fun. But even as some of us struggle to contend with how we were pretty sure it just came out a minute ago, there’s no denying its indelible mark on horror cinema, its self-referential stab (#swish) at dissecting the genre’s tropes and repackaging them with sly nods and—spoiler alert for a nearly 30-year-old movie—more than one killer slashing their way through teens played by folks in their late-20s.

Jump to today, and the franchise now runs six deep while somehow staying fresh (or fresh adjacent). Scream VI is a hell of a good time.

In VI, we follow the so-called core four, survivors of 2022′s Scream (side note, why do we let filmmakers give later entries in a franchise the same title as earlier entries?) as they move from small town life in the fictional Woodsboro, California, to New York City for college. Their leader, so to speak, Samantha (Melissa Barrera), is still holding onto the things that happened to everybody last time (killings, et al), plus she struggles with the whole thing where she’s the daughter of the original film’s big bad, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), and this means therapy.

Her sister (the increasingly adored Jenna Ortega) attends college, her pals do, too, and everyone tries to put the events of their hometown slayings to bed. Even Courteney Cox is there, reprising her role as unscrupulous newswoman Gale Weathers. Ruh-roh, though, because copycat types are still obsessed with the ‘97 murders and those who survived, so the principal cast starts getting creepy phone calls again. More murders follow.

Look, no one is saying the Scream franchise is fine art or high-minded cinema, but what it lacks in pretentiousness or even seriousness is secondary to how hard it leans into exactly what it is. There are no growing pains here or identity issues. In fact, Scream VI has some of the best cinematography in the genre, an arresting score and solid performances from pretty much everybody. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett know precisely what to do here, which is to get a bunch of young people running around terrified while a knife-wielding maniac takes them down one by one; all the while, the very movie itself winks knowingly at us, as if to say, “These films are fun, stop being so up your own ass about so-called cinema!”

Instead, find some of the more grounded yet shocking death scenes in recent movie memory, a hysterical appearance from Dermot Mulroney as a cop and Hayden Panettiere at the height of her powers in a genre-busting turn (no spoilers). Oh, they won’t win Oscars and this certainly won’t be the last Scream, but it is among the most fun yet in the series, even if series mainstays Neve Campbell and David Arquette bowed out ages ago.


+Super-dumb and knows it; fun and weirdly funny

-Even for satire, sometimes gets silly-serious

Scream VI

Directed by Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett

With Barrera, Ortega, Cox, Panettiere and Mulroney

Violet Crown, Regal, R, 122 min.

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