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‘Scream VI’ (review)

 

Back in 1996, Wes Craven breathed new life into the slasher genre with the darkly satirical meta horror classic Scream.

The legacy of that film speaks for itself, as even casual horror fans from the 90s will recall not only the direct sequels, but also the onslaught of rip-offs the film spawned, none of which were ever quite as clever as Craven’s original masterpiece.

The success of Scream and the memorable costume and menacing voice-changing device used by the killers have long since cemented Ghostface as another horror icon alongside the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger.

And much like David Gordon Green recently took on three rounds with Michael Myers with varying degrees of critical and audience approval, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have taken on Ghostface for what will likely be a legacy trilogy for the Scream franchise as well.

Where the 2022 installment from the new director duo brought audiences back to Woodsboro once more, Scream VI moves the horror to the streets of New York where the Carpenter sisters are trying to move on with their lives.

While Tara merely wants to live the life of any other young college student, her older sister Sam continues to grapple with being the daughter of an infamous killer, and the unnerving emotions of enjoyment she felt when killing Richie in the previous film.

The Meeks twins also return along with Gale Weathers, and a new group of characters are also added to the mix as they soon become aware that a new Ghostface is on the hunt for survivors and anyone they dare to care about.

Ghostface is not the first slasher icon to broach the Big Apple, as Jason Voorhees already attempted to do so back in 1989, but unlike Jason, Ghostface stalking the city that never sleeps continuously stirs up a sincere sense of unease.

Arguably, doing better than Jason Takes Manhattan is not saying much, but Scream VI proves that the director duo – who picked up the mantle after Craven’s Scream 4 before his passing in 2015 – still have a lot of creative ways to utilize Ghostface more than a quarter of a century since the character’s introduction.

Starting off strong, Scream VI has a memorable opening scene that once again highlights that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are not afraid to underline the brutality of a killer who truly revels in stabbing their victims to death and seeing them suffer.

Throughout the film, the New York setting is used with great success that emphasizes the creativity and callousness of anyone who dons Ghostface’s haunting visage, be it hunting people through apartment complexes or stalking them on a packed subway train on Halloween.

Where the film stumbles somewhat, however, is in the finale, as the suspense utilized so well until this point is abandoned for a more sensational approach that may be alienating to viewers who have otherwise been invested up until this point.

Despite of this, Scream VI still manages to prove that there is a lot left to do with this franchise because the premise is still relevant decades later, partly due to social commentary being a constant, partly due to the possibility of anyone inhabiting Ghostface and using the iconic costume as their avatar when causing murderous mayhem.

In recent years, new life has been breathed into the likes of both the Halloween and Evil Dead franchises, so it comes as no surprise that Scream is part of that trend as well.

While nothing will ever come close to Craven’s original Scream, the installments by Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are nonetheless largely entertaining additions to the franchise, and it will be interesting to see where the director duo takes their narrative next.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Paul Neinstein
Written by James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick
Based on Characters by Kevin Williamson
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Starring Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny,
Mason Gooding, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Jenna Ortega,
Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox

Scream VI is currently available on Digital HD,
On Demand, and streaming on Paramount+

 

 

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