“Scream VI” (2023) – “I’m gonna make a brand-new start of it in old New York.” – “New York, New York” (1977)
It’s 2023, and the “Scream” series left the Left Coast and Woodsboro, Calif.
The Scream Team is now cutting its teeth in The Big Apple. Fourteen months after the fifth installment’s release, “Scream” (2022), directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick are back with another Ghostface creation. The filmmakers crisscrossed the country with the stars from the last film: Sam (Melissa Barrera), her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), Chad (Mason Gooding), and his sister Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown). These four college-aged kids nickname themselves the “Core Four”, and yes, the latest surviving generation of the series, a quartet, doesn’t live in quarantine.
They now reside amongst eight million Empire Staters, and this “Center Tetrad” looks for a new start, and it’s awfully convenient that they all moved together.
Expensive too! Have you read about NYC’s pricey rentals?
Still, “Scream VI” isn’t a silver-screen version of “Friends” (1994 – 2004), where the cast juggles dating, dining, and distractions. The city is turning into The Big Pumpkin. Halloween is close, and anyone could suddenly don the infamous mask, transform into a quenchless killer, and attempt to carve up our newest heroes.
But hey, since the “Central Double-Duo” embrace a fresh start, perhaps, the filmmakers will take a renewed approach too.
Rather than repeat the typical “Scream” formulas, why don’t we skip…
- The familiar opening with an ominous phone call about scary movies that, of course, leads to a gruesome death.
- Random references to the “Stab” film series.
- Cinephiles sharing their favorite horror movie moments from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Friday the 13th”, and “Halloween” flicks, and maybe dropping a mention of “Fright Night”.
- Several folks inserting random referrals to Billy Loomis, Sidney Prescott, and at least one Woodsboro native listing every killer from the previous “Scream” films.
- Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) volleying between a protagonist and an annoying tabloid journalist more often than a 3-set match between Serena and Venus Williams.
- Someone leaping into a diatribe about horror movie rules.
With millions of souls casting steady streams of creative moxie under a backdrop of a “city that never sleeps,” this movie – unfortunately – doesn’t take one step towards slicing up any new ideas. Bettinelli-Olpin, Gillett, Vanderbilt, and Busick recycle the same, cliché-driven cinematic recipe that, sure, has made this famed chilly collection hundreds of millions of dollars, but after 27 years and five previous movies, this series is tired, predictable, and boring.
Boring because the “Main Triad plus One”, Gale, and a pseudo-blast from the past endlessly chatter about the aforementioned topics, plus continually pontificate about the identity of the current murderer(s).
Say what you want about the cookie-cutter premise of Freddy Krueger’s, Jason Voorhees’, and Michael Myers’ flicks, but no one ponders who is slashing up teenagers in those movies.
The result? Less time for idle debate, and more minutes for on-screen butchery, as it should be.
Here, the ponderous 123-minute runtime offers plenty of sequences where Sam, Tara, Chad, Mindy, Gale, and a mystery cameo deliberate over the man or woman (or men and women) behind the mask. Well, that and Sam and Tara argue over their futures, Chad pursues Tara, Sam hooks up with a “naked guy” neighbor (Ah, a “Friends” mention) but also questions her murderous feelings, and Mindy sets everyone down and declares “the rules.”
Mindy also proclaims (something like), “Someone is making a sequel to the requel.”
Been there, heard that.
Worse yet, with all that skyscraper real estate, the screenplay takes very little advantage of this playground of concrete-and-steel riches. We get one creepy sequence on a subway, but that’s about it.
On the plus side, “Scream VI” treats us to some imaginative kills, especially during the 3rd act, but we still must wade through laborious exposition to get there. Other times, we’re forced to suspend disbelief. One character displays zippy pep just a short while after suffering a life-ending, Ginsu-knife jab, and someone else’s fate takes a preposterous turn. Gale has a new boyfriend, but who is he? Oh, and speaking of Gale, Sam and Tara despise her one minute and sprint towards her rescue during another.
Well, Mindy may have summed up the current state of the “Scream” affairs, when she utters, “(Forget) this franchise.”
Note that she expressed a different f-word, if you catch my drift.
⭐ 1/2 out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Written by: James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Dermot Mulroney, and Courteney Cox
Runtime: 123 minutes
Image credits: Paramount Pictures