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 with Hayden Panettiere and Courtney Cox
This sixth film in the Scream franchise marks a few firsts. It’s the first film without Neve Campbell and David Arquette. It’s the first time Ghostface has ever called Gale Weathers — Courtney Cox(“Shining Vale,” “Cougar Town”) is the only original member of the cast to return. It’s the first time the story takes place in New York. And there are a few other firsts I leave for you to experience. While this review will contain no spoilers, I recommend you are familiar which the cinematic landscape of “Scream 2” and, more importantly, a refresher of last year’s forgettable “Scream 5” to get the most out of this sequel/prequel. Scream 6 has a solid plot, and it’s easy to see where the creators’ vision for the franchise, but adding more stabs and a bunch of firsts doesn’t equate to iconic or must-see status.
Struggling to move on from the trauma of Woodsboro last year, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and her half-sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) have moved across the country to The Big Apple with their surviving twin friends Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding). The graduates have all enrolled in college when new friends, roommates, and love interests start turning into suspects after the murders start happening again. However, unlike when Sidney left Woodsboro and moved to college carrying the sympathy card, social media has zero sympathies for Sam. Now that the world knows she is the daughter of a serial killer and stabbed her ex-boyfriend, the ninth killer, 22 times, she has become infamous. “I’m not going to let what happened to us for three days affect the rest of my life,” Tara says of her sister’s overprotective behavior.
Whodunnit horror films like "Scream" are always more engaging than those where you know the killer.
The brutal opening sequence makes it very clear you are in for a new set of rules throughout the film. At the same time, it ties itself, sometimes desperately, back to the original. While Gale explains Sidney’s absence, you will hardly notice Campbell’s withdrawal from this latest installment. Campbell was never a marquee ticket seller; Cox and Arquette were more fun on screen and bigger draws. The real tragedy here is they didn’t give Cox more to do. Sure, she gets some more iconic one-liners and dazzling outfits. Still, the new directors understand that Barrera(“In the Heights”) and Ortega(“Wednesday,” “The Fallout”) are where they want to invest their time. They double down on reinventing the old cast personalities with the new ones.
There are intense moments, for sure. Whodunnit horror films like “Scream VI” are always more engaging than those where you know the killer. Still, I have to ask, have we all become desensitized to this type of violence, or is this franchise running on fumes? The script doesn’t deal with trauma respectably or realistically. Also missing is the iconic Drew Barrymore moment that will have everyone talking the next day. It is impressive, however, that they have successfully reinvented a cheap little scary movie from the 90s so many times, and the legacy of Wes Craven continues to endure.
There are many firsts for the franchise, more blood, and gore, but it still needs more Gale Weathers.