Scream VI (2023)
Scream VI (2023)

Genre: Slasher Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Release Date: March 10th, 2023 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett Actors: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Courteney Cox, Hayden Panettiere, Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Devyn Nekoda, Josh Segarra, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Champion, Samara Weaving

 


 

I

t opens with a phone call, since that’s the only way a “Scream” movie can really begin, but at least the setting is a restaurant – and a woman takes a second call from within, only slightly altering the formula established from the first several pictures. “It’s all cliche,” says that woman (Samara Weaving), an associate professor of film studies, who happens to specialize in slashers, instantly attempting to bring a certain self-awareness into the script. As with the previous entries in the series, that strangely un-cinematic consciousness doesn’t enhance the happenings; it simply reinforces the tropes, hoping that audiences won’t realize the overuse of such filmic devices if the characters within beat them to it.

It also doesn’t do anything for the boo moments, which do their best to make “Scream VI” feel like a traditional slasher. But the predictability and regularity of these sequences rarely generate genuine scares; a knife-wielding maniac bursting from the shadows wasn’t all that striking even five movies ago. Further adding familiarity, recognizable personas return, but their involvements seem largely meaningless. Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) continue to be plagued by the Ghostface (or Ghost Face, as the signature mask copyright states) killings, oftentimes receiving disdain from random members of the public who believe rumors about the girls’ questionable implication. They really can’t have normal lives, though Tara hopes to keep up her studies at Blackmore University in New York. And, like Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) from the original trilogy, the Carpenters are practically magnets for copycat serial killers. “I have trust issues.”

The motives are unbelievable, as are the murders themselves, which are major problems for a project that wishes for viewers to become invested enough in the slayings to guess at who the actual killer or killers might be. A synopsis is tedious at this point, as so many people are related or connected to one another in countless ways, or introduced as a direct perpetuation of long-forgotten storylines. Plus, with supporting characters from years ago getting dug up to reprise their roles, it’s increasingly more imperative to have seen all the prior chapters. “I’m uninterested in living in the past!”

This sixth time around, most of the attacks are severe and deadly serious; lines of dialogue surrounding them may be cheesy or clumsily comedic, but the visual nastiness is considerably straightforward. The humor from the first reboot (the fourth film) has all but vanished, unlike Ghostface’s unchanging ability to materialize out of nowhere directly into enclosed spaces and private properties, free to commit gruesome crimes while the authorities are perpetually seconds too late for an apprehension (a component that is far more annoying than suspenseful). It hardly matters; the characters have so little appeal (they’re not sympathetic, realistic, or even likable) that it’s once again more amusing to root for Ghostface to butcher the protagonists (the quantity of fodder here is about equivalent to the excessive phone calls). It’s almost disappointing when someone gets away. And he’s no longer as clumsy as before – just impervious to physical harm, and intermittently bulletproof. “How are you alive?”

“There are certain rules to a continuing franchise.” When the inevitable speech about the formula for this latest episode (a sequel to a requel) arrives, it’s evident that “Scream VI” is for diehard fans only. It highlights its schtick of being unguessable, but that’s not much of a selling point when the plot is so bland that it’s not worth thinking about who might be the one responsible for all the slaying. The violence has undoubtedly been amplified, as one of the characters warns will be a trend for subsequent follow-ups; but all the escalations in stab-wound bodily destruction and gore effects prove to be absolutely futile in upping the entertainment value. Even with the heightened bloodshed, it’s virtually indistinguishable from the other theatrical entries. And the finale is exhaustingly drawn-out, sapping any chance at being remotely memorable. “I don’t wanna be a part of some stupid legacy.”

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10