[Movie Review] SCREAM VI
SCREAM VI l Paramount Pictures

Upon last year’s release of Scream aka Scream V, I found myself in a small minority of folks who were underwhelmed by the requel (a sequel and a reboot). As a massive fan of Radio Silence, which is comprised of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olphin and Tyler Gillett as well as producer Chad Villella, I had been excited to see how they would execute their vision. However, due to what I believe was poor writing and studio interference, Scream V didn’t come close to reaching its full potential. That being said, I was cautiously optimistic about SCREAM VI. Now, having seen the film, it brings me an immense amount of joy to announce that SCREAM VI is a beast of a film that surpassed my expectations and has landed itself as one of my favorite entries in the franchise.

Taking place outside of Woodsboro, writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick drop the terror of Ghostface into the Big Apple. Following the events that took place at the end of Scream V, Tara (Jenna Ortega) has moved to NYC for college accompanied by her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) and their good friends the Meeks-Martin twins, Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding). Hoping to move on from the trauma she experienced, Tara is itching for the college experience even if it puts her in unsavory situations. Meanwhile, Sam is trying to work through her own trauma while also being a helicopter big sister to Tara, who wants nothing more than for Sam to live her own life. However, after a brutal double murder of two college students occurs, it becomes evident that something is amiss and that Ghostface has returned to finish what was started.

The strength of the film falls on not only Radio Silence’s approach, but also on its tighter storyline, well-rounded characters, and actual stakes. This is noticeable at the start of the film when we meet Laura Crane (Samara Weaving) at a bar while she awaits her blind date. Scream fans know what to expect from this but what ends up occurring is a surprise bait and switch that sets the underlying tones of what’s to come. It’s at this point where we start to see Wes Craven’s Scream become Radio Silence’s Scream as they interject their own stylized approach to differentiate what audiences have already come to expect.

For me, the most noticeable change came from the acting, specifically Melissa Barrera’s performance. Instead of her character feeling one-note like she was in Scream V, we now see a more confident and secure performance from Barrera that showcases Sam as more versatile and complex. In other words, Sam has seen some shit and Barrera isn’t afraid to show that with her performance. The rest of the cast is fantastic, with the writers giving them more depth to allow for an emotional connection to form. Of course, this leads to higher stakes as the body count rises. Surprisingly, I found myself so attached to these characters that I was actually rooting for all of them to survive, which is unheard of for me.

[Movie Review] SCREAM VI
Courtesy Paramount Pictures & Spyglass Media Group
However, as we all know, the real star of the film is Ghostface. As fans, I think we’ve all grown accustomed to what we expect from Ghostface. But in this iteration, Ghostface is bigger and badder than we’ve ever seen, with a presence that’s demanding and nothing short of intimidating. It’s not just in moments of action like when we see Ghostface chasing Sam and Tara into a bodega where a gun battle ensues. It’s in the quiet moments as well. One scene, in particular, shows the outline of Ghostface behind a frosted glass door. Ghostface isn’t doing anything, in particular, other than standing still, yet the way in which Radio Silence crafted the scene highlights just how menacing and vicious Ghostface really is.

Ghostface really gets around in New York, having no problem navigating the NYC Subway. In what is sure to be an iconic scene, Radio Silence brings to life a subway ride gone wrong. After a series of events, a few of our characters find themselves squished inside a subway car. It happens to be Halloween so almost everyone is dressed in an array of costumes, ranging from Ghostface copycats to Jason Voorhees and Pinhead, and even our beloved Babadook (If you know, you know). The setup is genius but the execution is even more brilliant as Ghostface slowly stalks his prey in broad “day” light surrounded by dozens upon dozens of witnesses who never register the terror that is about to unfold. It’s an incredibly tense scene that’ll have viewers gripping the arms of their chairs.

As much of a success as the movie is, the film does falter in the third act, especially when it comes to the reveal. First and foremost, I will admit that I went in with preconceived notions of who/what I wanted for the reveal of Ghostface. That being said, I never expected the writers to fulfill exactly what I wished, but had hoped the overall reveal would have had a greater oomph to it because it felt like the film was leading to something far more significant than what we received. That being said, that particular moment does get some redemption once we, the viewer, connect all the dots. Though the third act could have been more impactful, everything that came before was memorable enough to offset the lackluster ending.

Overall, SCREAM VI stands as one of the best additions to the entire franchise. Bringing in Kirby as an FBI agent was a great way to tie the film back to the hugely underrated fourth film. Having numerous nods to the franchise helped bring in the nostalgia factor. It’s not easy to take a well-established franchise and make it one’s own, but Radio Silence has achieved that. With stakes as high as the Empire State Building, no one and I mean NO ONE is safe from Ghostface’s blade.

Find out who survives and who dies when SCREAM VI arrives in theaters only on March 10, 2023.

Shannon McGrew
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