Scream VI (2023) poster

Scream VI (2023)


USA. 2023.


Directors – Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett, Screenplay – Guy Busick & James Vanderbilt, Producers – William Sherak, James Vanderbilt & Paul Weinstein, Photography – Brett Jutkiewicz, Music – Sven Falconer & Brian Tyler, Visual Effects – Redefine FX Limited (Supervisor – Andre Bustanoby), Special Effects Supervisor – Guillaume Murray, Makeup Effects – Morot FX Studio Inc, Production Design – Michelle Laliberte. Production Company – Project X Entertainment/Radio Silence.


Melissa Barrera (Sam Carpenter), Jenna Ortega (Tara Carpenter), Mason Gooding (Chad Meeks-Martin), Jasmin Savoy Brown (Mindy Meeks-Martin), Courteney Cox (Gail Weathers), Dermot Mulroney (Detective Bailey), Hayden Panettiere (Kirby Reed), Jack Champion (Ethan Landry), Josh Segarra (Danny Brackett), Liana Liberato (Quinn Bailey), Samara Weaving (Laura Crane), Henry Czerny (Dr Christopher Stone), Tony Revolori (Jason Carvey), Devyn Nekoda (Anika Kayoko), Andre Anthony (Frankie), Skeet Ulrich (Billy Loomis)


Sam Carpenter has followed her sister Tara to university in New York City but is overprotective and fearful of her, while Tara seems unconcerned. They are then called in for questioning by the police after learning that there has been a new Ghostface killing nearby and that the DNA of previous Ghostface killers is found on a mask left at the scene. The new Ghostface bursts into the apartment and attacks their friends. Previous victim Kirby Reed returns, now an FBI agent, along with Gail Weathers as reporter. Kirby discovers a museum that someone has built in a warehouse as tribute to the previous killings and is filled with memorabilia. Sam decides that the best means of dealing with the new Ghostface is to gather at the warehouse and wait for the killer to come.

Scream (1996) was a substantial hit when it came out. Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson skilfully deconstructed the Slasher Film, turning the genre on its head in a work of Meta-Fiction. With the characters that were constantly referencing the clichés and conventions, they produced a sophisticatedly self-aware film of considerable ingenuity. Craven, Williamson and the cast returned for three sequels with Scream 2 (1997), the Williamson-less Scream 3 (2000) and a revival of the franchise with Sce4m (2011). There was also the tv series Scream (2015-9), although that dropped all the meta-fictional play and had nothing to do with the films.

The series was successfully rebooted with Scream (2022), which seemed to be trying to follow in the footsteps of the recent revival of the Halloween franchise. A number of the original cast – Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette – were brought back, while the franchise was placed in the hands of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, previously known for Devil’s Due (2014) and Ready or Not (2019). Subsequent to this, they went on to make the vampire film Abigail (2024).

With Scream VI, Neve Campbell made a high-profile departure, citing the insulting amounts of pay reportedly offered to her. With David Arquette having been killed off in the previous film that makes Courteney Cox the only returnee who has been around since the first film (apart from a brief appearance by a phantom Skeet Ulrich) – although she is looking well botoxed and long in the tooth by now. Certainly, original screenwriter Kevin Williamson is present as an Executive Producer, along with Cathy Konrad and Wes Craven’s regular producer Marianne Maddalena, who had produced all the other Scream films. Matt Bettenelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett again return to direct, while scriptwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and most of the surviving cast are back.

Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Devyn Nekoda and Melissa Barrera in Scream VI (2023)
(l to r) Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Devyn Nekoda and Melissa Barrera face a new Ghostface

Things look promising from the opening scene where we meet Samara Weaving waiting in a bar on an internet date who calls and starts questioning her where she reveals she is a professor who lectures about slasher films, before she is lured out into the alleyway and stabbed. On the other hand, you keep waiting for the scene to do something clever and subvert itself. And when about the only thing you get is the killer remonstrating her that if she had known anything about slasher movies she wouldn’t have gone into an alleyway alone, you realise how much the film has just stumbled over its feet right off the starting block. When you compare this to the smartness of the scene with the killer taunting Drew Barrymore in the original, or Scream V’s amusing subversion of that into a discussion on elevated horror, this seems a major let-down.

And that unfortunately presages the state of things for the rest of the film. Where Scream V seemed to get the mix of elements from the previous films right, this seems to miss them altogether despite coming from the same writers and directors. The whole meta-fictional play – the sense of characters realising they are in a slasher film – seems to be largely missing. We get one scene where Jasmin Savoy Brown stands up and gives a speech about the rules of franchises. It felt that the film was starting to belatedly remember something of what a Scream film should be but the speech is over and you sit and wonder what there was about it that was clever.

Even more of a crucial letdown is how this film is missing any of the scenes where the characters are constantly making smart or snide in-references to other horror films. The sole scene we get is where Jasmin Savoy Brown and Hayden Panettierre sit down, admit to being horror fans and discuss favourite Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street films. I can’t entirely hate the scene as I have to give it kudos for calling Psycho II (1983) underrated but all it feels like is some filmed version of an internet listicle rather than anything particularly clever.

Ghostface in Scream VI (2023)
Ghostface comes to New York City

And without the meta-fictional interplay and the resting of the film inside the corpus of other genre works, all that that makes Scream VI is no more than another modern teen slasher film. And as such, everything about the film feels as packaged, as cast by demographic representation as every other piece of banal marketed product out there. There seems a great irony in that we have gone from a smart and clever original that was poking fun at and spoofing the slasher movie fad of the 1980s to a franchise where the parody has been so watered down that the result is indistinguishable from the other formula films out there.

Even aside from that, most of the characters are unlikeable millennials, especially Mason Gooding who seemed to deem himself some sort of morality policeman for the actions of others throughout. There is the odd promising aspects throughout – the idea that social media has spun things so that Melissa Barrera is now painted as being the killer seemed a very 2020s touch, but the script fails to make anything out of this.

Trailer here

Director: ,
Actors: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Themes: , , , ,