Gemma Creagh takes a stab at the latest in the established franchise, Scream.
A first date goes terribly awry, and film professor Laura (Samara Weaving) is brutally slain in a meta game of cat and mouse – with a reveal, and then a twist on top of that. Of course there is, because in the sixth film in the Scream franchise, a direct sequel to 2022’s Scream, everything is bigger, brasher, slicker and even more subverted.
With the suburban town of Woodsboro, California far in the rearview mirror, Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) and her crew of Scream survivors, have moved to New York. Despite the notoriety of her past, Tara is attempting to build a normal life, studying in university from her lovely Manhattan apartment, making new friends, and drunkenly hooking up with callous jocks at college parties, while a chiselled lovelorn Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) protects her from the sidelines. Abs on display. You know, normal early twenties behaviour all around.
Meanwhile, her half sister Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) struggles to process their violent past, even hiring a therapist to assist with the necessary exposition. She’s haunted by the fact she butchered Richie Kirsch in the last film; as well as how she is the daughter of the first ever “Ghostface” killer, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and often hallucinates she sees him, makes her fearful for her sanity. Online Sam has been pegged as the real killer by conspiracy theorists, and as the body count starts to rise around the core group, Sam fears for her sister’s safety. The rules of the franchise are engaged – everyone is a suspect, anyone could be killed at any time, and even legacy characters, including reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and the lovable investigating FBI Agent Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) could be next on the killer’s list too. Who can the Carpenter sisters trust?
There’s simply no time in this film to overthink, which is genius on the part of the directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and works well with that slasher logic. Between the action, the ensemble’s relationships, the frequently shirtless men, the jokes, the catchy soundtrack, the easter eggs and the movie references, that grey matter has something engaging it, until those final credits roll. The writing is witty, and captures that youthful voice, while satiating the need for wistful remembrance in us Millenial/GenXs, who watched Drew Barrymore massacred on that big screen almost thirty years ago.
The performances are on point; these top notch actors play their roles poker straight, in – what is essentially – a meta comedy, often delivering punchlines while selling us on the fear. Not an easy thing to achieve. Because the stakes are so high for the characters, the network of relationships are heightened, and soapy PG-elements of romance are woven throughout – and thoroughly enjoyable to boot. It was a shame not to have Neve Campbell reprieve her role as Sidney Prescott. The actor cited payment as the reason, adding “As a woman I have had to work extremely hard in my career to establish my value, especially when it comes to Scream.”
True to the form and franchise, Scream VI delivers equal parts creative violence, meta humour, all propped up with a well matched cast and fast-paced set pieces. This latest instalment delivers Gen Z gore with a nostalgic twist.
Scream VI is in cinemas from 10th March 2023.