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The Killer Franchise Delivers Again, Continuing To Carve Out A New Path With Great Success

Mar 8, 2023

When “Scream” landed in theaters in January 2022, a month that works well for horror but is also often considered a dumping ground for so-so content, the reboot/sequel was greeted with one of the biggest cinematic sighs of relief in recent years. Not only did it not suck, but for the vast majority of people, the fifth entry exceeded expectations and revitalized the film series. The gamble absolutely paid off. A little over one year later, breaths are being held again as “Scream VI” arrives with perhaps even higher expectations. It’s okay to exhale because the team has not only done it again but has risen to the challenge and taken big swings, or slashes, that work.  
While “Scream” (2022), for better or for worse, leaned into the legacy of the beloved series, writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick use the previous entry as the foundation to continue constructing a new house of horror where directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett can expand their vision. It has retained some of the features, but this is very much its own sturdy structure.
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“Scream VI” picks up months after the last film and moves the action from Woodsboro to New York. It’s not the first time the franchise has left the fictional town, but this entry embraces and utilizes the new locale the most thoroughly and effectively. That shift also gives “Scream VI” and the cast the space to grow and stand on their own two feet, much like a number of the lead characters.
Sam Carpenter, played by Melissa Barrera, is still traumatized and haunted by the most recent Ghostface killings. She has followed her sister Tara, played by Jenna Ortega, to the city where she is now in college. Twins Chad and Mindy Meeks, played by Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown, respectively, have also moved to the city and enrolled in school. Together they act as each other’s support network. Joining the friendship group are Devyn Nekoda as Mindy’s girlfriend Anika, Jack Champion‘s virginal Ethan, and Liana Liberato‘s sex-positive Quinn. Lurking on the periphery is Josh Segarra‘s Danny Brackett, the mysterious hot neighbor Sam can see from an apartment window.
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However, this seemingly idyllic new period in their lives suddenly sours when a new Ghostface killer starts slashing their way toward them through their friendship circle. As things get bloody fast, Sam finds herself as the prime suspect in an investigation led by Dermot Mulroney‘s Detective Bailey, who happens to be Quinn’s father, both of whom have had to deal with the sudden and tragic loss of a family member. Understandably, the return of Ghostface also brings back more familiar faces, namely Courteney Cox‘s Gale Weathers, now a TV reporter in New York, and Hayden Panettiere as FBI Special Agent Kirby Reed, who survived the killer’s murderous rampage in “Scream 4.”
Ortega and Barrera once again deliver a convincing and engaging sibling pairing and are given more room to flesh out and embellish their characters. Similarly, Brown and Gooding get their moments to shine and move their characters forward from what was set up in “Scream,” making room for Nekoda, Champion, and Liberato to play and fill the spaces created for them. Mulroney’s cop character effortlessly slips in the hole created by the death of Dewey Riley with a comfortingly fragile “father figure with an edge” vibe. Panettiere’s Reed is the active ingredient here, the bolt from the blue, and she revels in the role, delivering a real treat for die-hard fans. 
That’s about as much as anyone should know going into “Scream VI.” As with the previous films in the franchise, and more broadly for any whodunnit movie, getting the most out of what unfolds, especially in the first viewing, is the element of surprise. Some parallels will be made with previous entries in the series but put those out of your mind and watch this with the freshest eyes possible.
Right out of the gate, “Scream VI” makes bold moves and serves up the most brutal opening sequence of the franchise. Not only is it shocking in its execution, but like a cat with a dead mouse, it toys brilliantly with relatable societal and cultural touchstones in a freshly terrifying way. That take on the trademark prologue bleeds into the main body of the film with breathtaking effectiveness. 
There is very little fat on Vanderbilt and Busick’s script, which rips along and never sags between set pieces. There is no filler here. The dialogue and narrative perfectly balance familiar elements that the audience expects but avoids being predictable. This textbook example of how to move a franchise forward builds on the new beats that give the new custodian cast increased ownership while never making legacy characters feel less than. While “Scream VI” keeps things lean and mean, it never forgets to put enough meat on the bones of the ensemble cast’s characters and plays brilliantly to each of their strengths and weaknesses.
Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, along with producer Chad Villella, conduct the sixth entry in the series, their second entry, with confidence, clarity, and precision. They create and curate an experience that excites and surprises, keeping tension tightly coiled throughout but creating spaces for the audience to come up for air. Exploring and exploiting New York’s scale and intimacy, even taking it to a place that borders on cripplingly claustrophobic at times, allows the filmmakers to get below the skin of what makes the series so great. To do that despite principal photography actually taking place in Montreal, Canada, takes a special kind of talent.
From the disorientating intensity of a subway car rammed with strangers dressed as icons of horror, on a journey punctuated by darkness, to acrophobia and the wide-eyed terror of a victim being massacred in some of the most visceral slayings of the series. This is enhanced and heightened by a ballet of stark city greys and a rich palette of deep reds and blacks captured and balanced stunningly by returning cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz. There is also a range of textures in the mix and some creative lighting that adds succulence, vibrance, and an authentic sense of atmosphere to the whole thing. On top of that, “Scream VI” builds to a powerful third act of grisly mayhem that is one of the best in the series.
“Scream VI” is a stab-ulous step forward for the franchise that deserves at least one more opportunity after this to make a killing at the box office. [A]
“Scream VI” hits theaters on March 10.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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