Scream V did a lot of things right. For one thing, it reestablished some of the successful tropes that made the original film such a blast to witness in 1996. The 2022 requel introduced our new “core four” into familiar settings while easily and satisfyingly, braiding in the original cast. Scream VI, however, shrugs off all of the safety nets of the original series (Sidney included), and instead takes huge risks with new settings, new archetypes, and a whole lot more action. These risks pay off in spades, providing audiences with the best Scream film since the original.
The latest Ghostface entry’s greatest achievement is its hybrid of pacing and setting. The intensity starts off at a ten in the first few seconds of the film, and it’s never taken down, only increasing until the dial itself snaps off. The film is constantly at the risk of leaning into action/horror territory, yet it works, as our characters utilize the New York City setting like a jungle gym. Dizzying heights are involved, taking the franchise quite literally to new levels.
From dark alleyways to rickety fire escapes to gorgeous penthouses overlooking the Manhattan skyline and even claustrophobic subway sequences, every inch of Scream VI‘s urban setting is used to its full advantage. A particularly successful scene in Gale Weather’s apartment is a sparkling example of why New York City was such an excellent choice for a Scream setting.
While familiar faces like Gale (Courteney Cox) and Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) are treated effectively, I was most relieved to see how the original requel “core four” were reintroduced. I found the treatment of Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) in Scream V to be boring and ineffective. Protagonists are difficult to make interesting. They have the weight of the audience on their shoulders and must be engaging while also somehow acting as the conduit for everyone watching. It’s a nearly impossible task that failed in the previous entry. But not this time. The Radio Silence team seems to have to taken the note, making Sam a much more interesting and three-dimensional presence this time around. She’s a woman on edge, unafraid of chaos and destruction if that means she can protect those closest to her. She’s an actual anti-hero this time around, even if the treatment of her mental illness leaves something to be desired.
While Scream VI is almost entirely satisfying, from its scares to its settings, one minor note left me from giving this latest legacy franchise entry a perfect five-star rating. While always fun and never boring, the writing sometimes leans towards cliche and clunky. At times, dialogue pivots into melodrama in ways that the original film would never have. And maybe most glaring is how completely unrealistic the action can be at times. Yes, this Scream entry is all about having fun, and realism is not the point being made. However, I was still left scratching my head when characters accidentally ran into each other in the massive sprawling city streets. This isn’t Woodsboro, people; the chances of these characters bumping into one another the way they constantly do is slim to none. Also, Ghostface is practically a Marvel villain this time, flying through the air and manifesting in locations at will. It’s a bit silly, but ultimately, forgivable.
Logic and realism aside, every damn beat of this film was entertaining and joyous to behold. For those of you worried about this Ghostface chapter, you have nothing to be concerned about. The Radio Silence filmmaking team’s capable hands can officially be trusted. Scream VI is a phenomenal thrill ride through New York City. It utilizes its new levels and tropes to their full potential while still respecting its roots and the characters of future’s past. While it’s a risky declaration to make so early, I must admit that this latest sequel is likely the best in the franchise, second only to the original.
‘Scream VI’ shrugs all of the safety nets of the original series while taking huge risks which pay off in spades, providing audiences with the best ‘Scream’ film since the original.