‘Scream VI’ is Stronger Than Any 5th Sequel Should Be
The franchise’s latest dodges pitfalls and stays fresh by leaning into character, creativity, and good ol’ fashioned entertainment.
Last year, when I reviewed Scream (Scream 5, that is), I mentioned what’s probably my favorite thing about this franchise: it’s an ongoing conversation with its fans about horror films, pop cultural relevance, and the highs and lows of fandom.
It’s part of what makes the viewing experience rewarding for fans, most of whom are in on the jokes (or even the butt of them) while still getting a substantive new chapter of the character stories they know and love.
Scream VI is the first time I’ve felt that the franchise is no longer focused on furthering the overall horror discourse. (Some cheeky comments here and there about film critics and plot subversions do just fine.) Instead, this film is going all in on the sheer thrill of the entertainment factor — and in that respect, it’s an easy success.
The surviving victims of the most recent Woodsboro massacre — Tara (Jenna Ortega), Sam (Melissa Barrera), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), and Chad (Mason Gooding) — have attempted to leave their trauma behind in favor of New York City college life. Halloween weekend on campus should be a guaranteed blast for all, but while Tara is trying to party the pain into obscurity, Sam is not only struggling in therapy, but being hounded by online conspirators who’ve unearthed her history and taken it upon themselves to brand Sam the actual killer of her late friends.
When a new string of murders occur — orchestrated by someone who has first-hand access to Sam’s recent past and an extensive knowledge of Woodsboro lore — what also emerges is a sick sort of storytelling effort to drag the ugly present back to the uglier past where it all began.
When Scream VI is good, it’s genuinely excellent and gripping; there are some chase sequences here that are…