Movie Review: Scream VI

You can’t keep a good franchise down. While the Scream series had perhaps seemed finished after the disappointing box office of the 4th installment in 2011, a little over a decade later it came roaring back to life with the rebootquel, creatively titled simply Scream. This sixth entry functions as a direct sequel to that film, and relocates the action from Woodsboro, California to New York City. Luckily, unlike the last time a slasher franchise traveled to the Big Apple, we don’t spend two thirds of the movie stuck on a boat.

Following the requisite opening murder sequence (which does offer up a unique spin on the formula), we learn that sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, respectively) have moved to NYC so that Tara can attend Blackmore University. Their friends and fellow survivors Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) have also enrolled at the school and have since added Quinn (Liana Liberato), Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Ethan (Jack Champion) to their friend group, while Sam has secretly been seeing their attractive neighbor Danny (Josh Segarra).

Sam continues to be paranoid about their safety and Tara is beginning to bristle under her overly watchful eye, especially when she shows up at a frat party to remove her sister. Arriving back at their apartment they learn about the Ghostface killing that opened the film, which makes Sam even more frantic. Quinn calls her police office father Wayne (Dermot Mulroney) in the hopes of getting information she can use to calm her friends down, only to find out that Sam’s driver’s license was found at the scene and she is wanted at the station. When the sisters arrive there, FBI agent Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), a survivor of Scream 4, arrives to help with the case and series regular reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) is waiting for them outside.

The large cast offers up plenty of potential victims and suspects, keeping the audience on their toes throughout. It also means that a few characters are bound to get short shrift, but for the most part the script gives everyone room to breathe between set pieces. Speaking of which, the murder sequences here are some of the most vicious in the series and make great use of the urban setting. A neighborhood bodega, the empty space in the middle of an apartment building, and the subway are all used to create some of the most memorably suspenseful moments of any Scream movie. The usual referential jokes and asides are significantly reduced this time out and don’t add much when they do appear, and the final reveal of just who is behind the mask this time around is surprising but the speech in which the motivation is explained is easily the worst part of the whole movie. The original 1996 Scream still isn’t at any risk of being dethroned as the best in the series, but this latest entry does add some much-needed freshness to the proceedings and indicates that there’s still a lot of life left in old Ghostface. ★★★

rated r for strong bloody violence and language throughout, and brief drug use.

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★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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