The 1996 film Scream has spawned quite the franchise over the decades. There are now five sequels and a short-lived television series. Nevertheless, Scream VI manages to throw in a few surprises that longtime fans of the franchise would never expect. As such, for those who like their whodunnit films to keep them on the edge of their seat, this new sequel certainly delivers.
The new film moves away from last year’s Woodsboro setting and places the franchise into the much more dangerous New York City. As such, the stakes feel immediately heightened, and it keeps the moments at which Ghostface could strike a genuine mystery. This turns the newest sequel’s Ghostface into one of the most formidable foes in the franchise yet.
Of course, Scream VI also brings back several familiar faces from the franchise and a few newcomers. Fans that felt the new characters from last year’s Scream weren’t developed enough might be surprised to see what this sequel offers. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega return as Sam Carpenter and Tara Carpenter, respectively, with Jasmin Savoy Brown back as Mindy Meeks-Martin and Mason Gooding as Chad Meeks-Martin.
The group finds themselves with much more to do and a few interactions that make them feel more like fleshed out characters. For example, the fifth Scream film had Jenna Ortega’s character injured very early on. This led her to have very few moments with everyone else. Now, however, Ortega’s character has several character arcs that make her connected with all of her friends and, more importantly, her sister Sam.
Likewise, Sam Carpenter finds herself once again struggling not to collapse under the shadow of her serial killer father. This adds an interesting dynamic as she struggles to survive against Ghostface, protect her friends, and prevent herself from becoming a killer in the process. It builds upon themes introduced in its predecessor but without the need to clunkily introduce them. Similarly, Chad and Mindy are given more opportunities to come across as Sam and Tara’s close friends as opposed to just Randy’s niece and nephew.
On the other hand, there are several new characters that aren’t anywhere near as developed. The aforementioned four characters have new friends that include Mindy’s girlfriend, Annika, played by Devyn Nekoda, Liana Liberato as Sam’s roommate Quinn, and Jack Campion as Chad’s new friend Ethan. Because the film does focus so much on the returning four characters – it gives little room for the new group to shine. Though their inclusion offers Ghostface even more potential prey to toy with and chase. Additionally, we have Dermot Mulroney as NYPD Detective Bailey who offers the young teens assistance in fighting off Ghostface.
We also have original legacy characters Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). Gale tends to fall into some of her familiar tropes, while Kirby is developed in some much more fascinating ways. After all, we last saw Kirby in 2011’s Scream 4. Now twelve years later – she’s given an all-new career as a FBI agent. She’s no longer just a high school girl with an interest in film. Kirby has grown into a veteran Ghostface survivor with an eagerness to track down this new killer.
Ultimately, the film doesn’t offer much in commentary for other modern day horror films. But it does use the aforementioned characters, and their links to the past, to build an homage to all things Scream. Every preceding film and their respective killers are referenced throughout Scream VI. It connects the world and characters together despite the completely new setting. And, as a result, it makes Scream VI feel like a true sequel and culmination of events despite the absence of Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott.
Scream VI is a film that manages to shock fans throughout its opening minutes and the riveting climax. This includes some serious moments that Scream fans will never see coming. And, as such, it’s a perfect addition to the whodunnit franchise that’s managed to remain a horror phenomenon for decades. Overall, it might not be the groundbreaking original from 1996, but it sure is a fun sequel that manages to throw in more than a few surprises.