Scream VI Is the Fun, Thrilling Slash in the Arm the Franchise Needed: Review

The Pitch: It’s been a minute since Ghostface reared his spooky head around Woodsboro for the millionth time, and the new generation of survivors is doing their best to move on. In fact, the self-appointed “Core Four” — Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), and Meeks twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) — have moved on up to New York City, home of folded pizzas and jarred picante sauce, to go to college and otherwise live their lives.

It’s not easy, of course, especially for Sam, who wrestles with her father’s nascent killer instinct and her overprotectiveness around Tara, who’s desperate not to let the events of the last killing spree define her life.

But it turns out Ghostface isn’t done with them, even in the Big Apple, as ol’ Ghosty starts his work back up in their vicinity, all with a previous killer’s mask left behind as a calling card. The rules, argues Mindy, are different this time: They’re not in the requel anymore, but a franchise — the property matters more than the characters.

This means everyone, whether it’s legacy characters (Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers, Hayden Panetierre’s returning Scream 4 victim Kirby) or the new leads or anyone else standing in the way, is on the chopping block. (Nevermind that these are the rules earmarked for just about every Scream sequel since the first, but you know.) So, as the bodies pile up in subway cars and bodegas, Sam and co. start to realize that moving away from Woodsboro won’t keep them safe.

Scream 2, Too: The prospect of a Wes Craven-less era of Scream was a dicey one when the fifth entry, titled simply Scream in a nod to the naming conventions of most “franchise refreshes,” came out just last year. It was a decent enough time: the new cast was mainly effective, and it captured the general feel of Kevin Williamson’s pitch-perfect lampooning of the slasher genre and all its tropes.

But screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick struggled with being a bit Too Online, trying and failing to elevate the series’ finger-on-the-pulse understanding of horror and the demands of its audience for an online era where basically everyone is a self-styled horror expert. In trying to thumb its nose at the nature of requels, it got lost in an ouroboros of reference and forgot to actually be scary.

Scream 6 (Paramount Pictures)