There will be no spoilers in this review.
It’s been about a week since I saw Scream IV, and since then, all I’ve been able to think about is how long it will be until I can watch it again.
For those keeping score at home, the Scream franchise means a lot to me. Last year’s Scream was my favourite film of the year. I know many who weren’t a fan of it, but it felt like home to me. Terrifying and comforting all at once. That being said, Scream VI is better.
As the brilliant marketing has told us, the “Core Four” moves to New York City for school and to get as far away from Ghostface as possible. This time, we see these characters evolve and become more fleshed-out characters. We no longer are being told they have history. We’re seeing it. Sure, the trauma bonding from the previous film’s events affected their closeness, but you could feel the connection between both sets of siblings and one another.
The Core Four are trying to go to school and continue with their lives, but by now, we know how it goes in the franchise, and Ghostface returns. Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) continues to stand out in a collection of great performances. Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) is the lovable jock that makes you happy to see him. Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) is no longer in recovery mode for the duration of the film and gets to see her character outside of traumatic events (before they start up again). And Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) is the tough older sister who is both grieving and trying to protect Tara, herself, and her friends.
The other cast members also help round up the rest of potential victims/suspects. Many new faces like Ethan (Jack Champion), Laura (Samara Weaving), Quinn (Liana Liberato), Jason (Tony Revolori), Danny (Josh Segarra), Anika (Devyn Nekoda), Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), and then a few returning ones like Gale (Courtney Cox) and Kirby (Hayden Panettiere). And yes, seeing Kirby and Mindy share screen time together is a treat for fans of the franchise.
The film starts strong, as it always does, with a brutal attack that sets the tone perfectly for the film moving forward. While each one tries to stand on its own as it is something that fans compare within the franchise, VI‘s cold open is one of the best of the franchise. Images from this film are etched into my mind.
Having the film take place in New York during Halloween was a brilliant idea to continue the long stretch of their films feeling extraordinarily fresh and rejuvenating to horror fans. Many folks wear Ghostface costumes and other horror icons. So we’re getting this repeating image of Ghostface in the crowds, which leads to Ghostface being everywhere and harder to escape. The chase scenes — yes, quite a few — are some of the best of the franchise. And during some of the violent deaths, I would wince and gleefully laugh on occasions. Ghostface is brutal on another level this time around.
Matt Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin return to direct the sequel, and Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt return to write the script. While I love last year’s film and this one, they do feel different from the four directed by Craven. Ghostface is meaner, and angrier. While Ghostface continues to fall over, trip and get hurt, the kills still feel more violent. VI feels like an escalation on top of what came in the previous film. Spoiler for the 2022 film, when Ghostface attacks Sherriff Hicks in broad daylight, it stands out because of how visceral it is, and as we’re in busy New York, it has some of that urgency, that meanness as well. These moments of violence in public spaces amplifies this tension that no one is safe inside this franchise. We get two incredible set pieces that the trailer has briefly shown us, filled with tension.
Scream VI continues to carry what we love from the franchise, meta jokes, brutal deaths, a terrifying killer, and a group of characters you wish to survive. As the body count increases quickly, you start trying to figure out who Ghostface could be, and as always, it keeps you guessing.