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Scream VI, released on March 10th, 2023, is the sixth overall movie in the "Scream" franchise and considered to be the third movie of a second trilogy preceding Scream 4in 2011 and the aptly named requel Scream in 2022. It follows the lives of sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) as well as twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), the four surviving characters of the previous movie. By the start of the movie, they have all moved to New York in hopes of starting life anew after their run-in with Ghostface. However, Ghostface manages to track them down and stalk them in the streets of Manhattan, sporting a new wood-carved mask and having much more violent tendencies than other users of the “Ghostface costume," resulting in one of the bloodiest and grittiest movies in the franchise yet. I watched this movie the day it was released in theaters in the United States, and the marketing and trailers released made the wait even more exciting. After watching it, I referred to it as the second favorite Scream movie, only being beaten by the original in 1996. However, what exactly makes this entry in Scream fare better than the others?
A mix of murder and meta-ness to the max
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, as well as writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, have made sure, just like in other Scream entries, that there was a fine line between horror and brutal slasher moments and satirical meta-ness and references.
For example, one moment, you have Mindy explaining how Scream VI is now part of a franchise signifies a bigger budget and scope where rules can be broken, and a few minutes later, you are met with an intense chase sequence as well as defense against a home-invasion between Ghostface and the only legacy character to return, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). You eventually go back to scenes that mix meta-ness and references with a sense of paranoia, like in the scene where the core characters are in a subway filled with people dressed as Halloween icons, such as Chucky, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees. Of course, with this film series, you have Ghostface costumes creating a sense that they are actually just costumes or are in the midst of an actual, real-life killer. You then have the third act reveal in the shrine of Ghostface filled with different callbacks from older Scream movies. This is followed by a gory and suspenseful third-act finale. After the credits, there is a post-credit scene, a first for the series with more meta-ness from Mindy, but you'll have to see that for yourself.
Characters, Deathly Development, and Acting
Unlike Scream (2022), I felt that this movie had many moments of excellent character development, especially between the core four introduced in the last film, not only between them but the new characters introduced, such as Anika (Devyn Nekoda), who plays fellow Blackmore Academy student, Mindy's girlfriend, Ethan (Jack Champion), Chad's roommate, Quinn (Liana Liberato), Sam and Tara's roommate and Sam's boyfriend, Danny (Josh Segarra), and Detective Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney).
Also returning is fan favorite Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), a survivor of the Woodsboro Murders of 2011 who now works for the FBI. Throughout the movie, they are chased by Ghostface, voiced famously by Roger Jackson. There are moments of recollection and sadness amongst Mindy and Hayden as well as Sam and Tara. A brotherly romance is shown between Chad and Mindy. Melissa Barrera has gotten a better grasp on how to portray Sam and portrays her much better in this movie than in the previous one, and Jenna and Chad's performances shine the brightest in both a comical sense as well as in a horror scenario. Hayden Panettiere and Courtney Cox put on super comfortable and confident performances. While promising, I must also mention that Jasmin Savoy Brown's performance was a little bit dryer in this installment than in the last one. The new cast, however, had very good performances, especially Jack Champion, who I thought did well, especially in the third act.
Same-sy Plot and a Slasher Setting
The plot subverts expectations in many different ways, especially the beginning in which after a blond-haired film teacher played by Samara Weaving is brutally murdered, the killer removes their mask, creating the idea that instead of watching a murder mystery type of movie, it is a "how is the villain going to be caught" story right until a double homicide occurs with the just-revealed "Ghostface" killer a victim. From there, the narrative goes over to the core cast and builds up the plot and suspense by introducing the new characters of the story as well as the sprawling city of New York. The chase scenes and suspenseful moments of Ghostface stalking the cast lead up to a reveal which, while shocking and cool in some way, feels lackluster. However, most of the third act was suspenseful enough to keep me off my toes. There were also a few moments in the movie that I feel were not plausible, especially the details relating to some characters and their attacks. Still, without heavy spoilers, that is something you'll have to see for yourself. I feel like there should have been a bit more casualties, especially amongst the core cast. I did, however, like the setting of New York. The tight alleyways of the streets and apartment buildings created a sense of fear and dread, primarily when chase scenes occurred. The suspense was heightened to its fullest potential. Also, the setting loosely based on a college creates a link to Scream 2, which as a reference, I really enjoyed.
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