The Scream franchise twice has seemed to be over and done with. While the productiomn problems on Scream 3 seemed to kill it once and for all, Scream 4 provided one last hoorah with the our favorite trio of survivors along with Kevin Williamson penning the script with Wes Craven in the director’s chair. It seemed like it could be a fitting ending to the franchise, the one not achieved by the third movie.
When you introduce a new generation of horror fans being hunted by the Ghostface Killer, you can more or less reboot the franchise. Scream 4 seemed to criticize the remakes/reboots that sprung up in the 2000s. While it wasn’t the best, there was some great tension and scenes in the movie. And a popular fan theory that closeted horror fan Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) had survived her injuries. That has proven to be true in the latest Scream VI, which is set as a direct follow-up to the 2022 fifth movie simply titled Scream itself.
Set around Halloween more than a year after the events of the previous movies, all four surviving young people Tara Carpenter (current It Girl Jenna Ortega) and her half-sister, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) have moved to New York City where Tara is attending college at the fictional Blackmore University. Sam seems to have followed her hoping to take care of her sister despite being absent for many years. Joining them are twins Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown).
Tara is hoping to put the past behind her as Chad seems smitten to develop a closer relationship even protecting her from a potential date rape at a frat party. Sam, on the other hand, is still living in the past, being that her father was serial killer Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich in a cameo) and her previous boyfriend, Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid appearing in a photo) was the killer in the previous movie.
Worse, Sam is dealing with online theories that she was the one behind the Woodsboro murders. I wish the movie had dealt with this more since in the past few years, we’ve heard outrageous accusations (with zero proof) that Hillary Clinton and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are involved in child sex trafficking and Wayfair furniture was being used. Then, you got the criticism that the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection coup attempt was a peaceful protest and it was Anti-Fa who did all the violence. But with the exception of a mention by Sam and a run-in with a conspiracy theories, it’s forgotten about until the climax.
When the movie opens, it follows down a path we’ve seen before as a Blackmore film professor Laura Crane (Samantha Weaving), whose surname out to be a giveaway to her fate, is stitting in a restaurant awaiting her date when he calls and says he’s running late. Of course, you know he’s not running late. And as the scene unfolds, there’s almost an amusement as we wonder if Laura is really going to do what we think she’s going to do. But here’s where the movie offers a twist on top of a twist that even though where we know it’s all headed, it’s still fresh.
In the previous Scream, we thought Tara was going to be the unfortunate first kill but she was only injured. Yet, very soon, we discover that another killer is using the Ghostface costume to follow Tara and Sam across the country and leaving mutilated bodies in their wake. With the movie being set at Halloween time, the Ghostface costume is very popular. So, who do you really see out on the streets of NYC? It’s kind of a nod to the theater scene in Scream 2 where everyone is wearing costumes so who is the real killer. That movie was set at or nearby a college too.
Kirby shows up in NYC claiming to work for the FBI out of the Atlanta office but she made a trip because she wants to help having survived the events of the fourth movie. Also back is Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) who doesn’t have far to travel since she now lives in NYC. Gale is a persona non grata with Tara and Sam as she promised not to write a book on the previous movie’s events and then did just that. There’s a mention of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) but at least the movie gives the character some intelligence by Gale saying that Sidney took her children into hiding, which is the smartest movie.
In real life, Campbell refused to come back because she wasn’t offer a reasonable salary. The budget is reported to be about $35 million which is cheaper by both the fourth and fifth movie which each cost $40 million. The movie was filmed in the Montreal area mainly to take advantage of Canada’s tax incentives. With the high cost of supplies since the January 2022 premiere of the fifth movie, I can understand the reasoning.
However, the absence of Sidney this time is felt in the movie, which with its Canada scenery feels like a cheaper movie even if it’s just a few million. Cox’s role feels more like a glorified cameo even though it’s the first time she does get a call from Ghostface. Well, technically, Ghostface called her in the second one, but Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) picked up her cell phone to answer it out of frustration. Randy is also the uncle of Chad and Mindy which is an awkward relationship with Sam the movie never does examine since Billy shot Randy.
With a new cache of characters, there’s also new concerns over who the killer can be. Tara and Sam have a roommate, Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato), whose father, Wayne (Dermot Mulroney) is a NYPD detective who just happens to get assigned the murder case. Quinn also says Wayne asked to be transferred to NYC to be closer to Quinn.
Then there’s Chad’s roommate, Ethan Landry (Jack Champion), who they don’t know much about and suspect might be the killer. There’s also the sexy neighbor, Danny Brackett (Josh Segarra), of their apartment building who just so happens to have his apartment right across the courtyard/alleyway from them. He and Sam are secretly in a relationship. Could he be the killer?
While it does have some thrills, some of the characters only seem to exist just to be potential killers. Anika Kayoko (Devyn Nekoda) is Mindy’s girlriend, but I think she barely has much dialogue in the movie. There is a great scene in which Ghostface chases Tara and Sam into a bodega that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett films with tension and Gale’s interaction with him is thrilling.
However, the franchise’s biggest problem is and has always been its climax which is usually overdone. And this is no exception. Maybe in the first one as Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) was screaming so excitedly that saliva was spewing from his mouth, there was a freshness to the absurdity. But here, it’s just a little too much even though it does offer a twist. It’s nice to see Kirby back as the connection between the first three moivies with the fourth and the new batch. Ortega’s popularity following her appearance in X and Wednesday seems to make her the new Sidney.
This is the goriest Scream so far, which during the final act requires the viewers to have a suspension of disbelief. But even Stu was proof that you can be only be stabbed so many times losing so much blood before you start “getting woozy.” And there’s the rub. The blood and gore makes some stuff too unbelievable.
Yet, the problem I have is the scenes that are suppose to be NYC don’t look it al all. Maybe the filmmakers realized this and set most of the scenes in buildings or alleyways along with generic-looking parks. There is a good subway scene. But why bother even setting it at a college, if you’re just going to have a scene at a frat boy and a quad? Scream 2 utilized the small campus of Agnes Scott to create a claustrophobia feel. I feel there was a better script here with Sidney that saw her final battle with Ghostface end with her death. That’s why Campbell asked for more money, I think.
Let’s face, the Scream franchise has been Campbell’s francise the way Halloween was Jamie Lee Curtis’. Campbell hasn’t appeared in many big movies since Scream 4. She appeared as Dwayne Johnson’s wife in the 2018 action movie Skyscraper but anyone could’ve been in that role. If you’re going to be killed off in a franchise that might produce another movie or two, you’re going to ask for a bigger slice of the pie for the road.
The movie has made almost $170 million worldwide which is a success. So, the likelihood that there will be a seventh movie is the same likelihood that someone else will don the Ghostface mask. Both Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet who helmed the fifth movie say they’re open to returning for a seventh movie with hopes of Campbell returning.
The question is will Scream 7 be the lucky movie or will just prove the franchise should’ve ended at six.
What do you think? Please comment.