The Sequel to The Requel Mirrors Scream 2
Now this is a scream, baby! Scream VI promised fans that this would be a totally different Ghostface, and they weren’t kidding. The sequel to the 2022 requel butchered all the “rules” that audiences were used to from the franchise and introduced everyone to a more vengeful game. And what better way to do that than to bring horror to the bustling city of New York through a bunch of college students?
Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) ditch Woodsboro for a new life in the city that never sleeps along with their friends, siblings Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy-Brown). While Tara, Chad, and Mindy attend Blackmore University together, Sam lives with her younger sister to watch out for her after the slashings from 2022’s Scream. When a brutal new Ghostface follows the group to the Big Apple, they must band together with Scream 4 survivor, FBI agent Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), and reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) to figure out who they’re dealing with and, more importantly, why.
Scream VI began production with an impossible task: moving on without the franchise’s original final girl, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). Since 1996, fans have adored Sidney whenever another Ghostface came to stab her in the back. She is the one scream queen who practically invented the franchise’s satirical perspective on the horror genre. And after Campbell announced she would not star in the 2023 flick, fans weren’t sure what to expect. Hell, most of them vowed to never watch any Scream films without her. Yet, here we are, watching it without her. To make matters even more questionable, viewers cackled at the fact that Scream VI would take place in New York, with some recalling the hilarity of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
However, Scream VI stands on its own as a unique but familiar sequel. With several nods to Scream 2 and a few grappling twists in the end, the latest installment takes the audience on a fast-jerking subway ride.
A Refreshingly Familiar Plot
Gen-Z Kirby-like horror enthusiast Mindy breaks a requel’s sequel down for us: it has to be “bigger,” with more kills and thrills than the last.
Scream VI takes us down memory lane by introducing the “core four” friends to the college scene, just like in Scream 2. With new roommates and friends, Sam, Tara, Chad, and Mindy have a brand-new suspect list. Or do they? As the great late Randy Meeks once said, “Everybody is a suspect!” In this film, his niece, Mindy, follows in his footsteps by pointing out each friend’s possible motive to kill, but of course, no one can be sure who the violent slicer is until the very end.
Similar to how Sidney went to school in Scream 2 after her boyfriend Billy Loomis and Stu Macher gutted half the town, Tara tries to move on with her life here in Scream VI, as she tells her sister. As for Sam, Tara accuses her of being stuck in the past, but she is struggling with a bloodier game than just memories. Sam is the daughter of a serial killer. Did she inherit anything from Billy? Could there be something ingrained in her that she just can’t shake off?
When it comes to Ghostface, there is always some strange motive, whether that be revenge or the killer(s) being flat-out sociopathic murderers. Scream VI promised us that this “isn’t like any other Ghostface,” and they meant it. This really is not like any of the killers we’ve seen in the past, and that establishes the movie as a strong heavyweight competitor for the year.
Since the entire franchise literally plays with meta all the time, fans weren’t too surprised to see the trailer reveal the Ghostface “shrine” that Gale finds in an abandoned movie theater in New York (which most people know aren’t impossible to find in this town). Pieces from the past haunt the main characters in Scream VI, and one ends up being among the most significant details in every single Scream movie. Once the gang stumbles upon each of these, the killer’s identity may be closer than they realize.
Strikingly New Twists
The fact that a new Ghostface is taking on the busy city brings a whole new set of possibilities, including how to kill off each main character. From dark alleys to crowded subways, this monster doesn’t work against the highly populated location; they work with it. Just like the sirens playing in the background of each urban resident’s life, Scream VI incorporates every realistic detail that these characters live with compared to when they lived in their quiet California hometown.
Since the four pals are living in a dense city, the killer naturally finds new ways to hunt them down. As the original trailer revealed, the friends try to evade Ghostface by crawling across a ladder from their apartment to Sam’s new boyfriend Danny Brackett’s (Josh Segarra) place. Conveniently, their apartment is several floors up, so the frightened victims must hurry to get to the other side without shaking the ladder. When watching this on a big screen, it’s easy to feel like their struggle; the audience is sweating with the characters.
Apart from the setting details, the film also explores Sam’s character in more detail than its 2022 predecessor. As she seeks therapy to deal with the trauma she endured, viewers think it’s simply because she went through such a horrifying and bloody experience, finding out that her boyfriend was trying to murder her while simultaneously seeing her deceased father through visions.
However, there is something sinister in Sam that she admits to a therapist, ultimately stopping the audience’s hearts. While the baseless rumor spreads online accusing Sam of orchestrating the 2022 Woodsboro murders, viewers start to question whether she may have a motive this time around. After all, the franchise has to keep fans on their toes, so why rule out one of the protagonists becoming the antagonist?
Neve Campbell’s Absence
Scream VI didn’t just have to deal with their scream queen’s absence. They also had to figure out how to convince fans to watch the movie knowing that she left due to unfair pay. This is modern day times; people don’t want to support any institution that apparently perpetuates the problematic female pay gap.
As promised, the film found a way to “protect” Campbell’s cherished character, granting the responsibility to Cox’s Gale. The mention is brief but effective, and true fans can automatically recognize how Gale almost breaks the fourth wall when she provides an update to Sam and Tara on Sidney. As Avril Lavigne famously sings, “So much for my happy ending” — does Sidney get that?
Cox is the only original character still standing, which comes with a daunting responsibility that even Ghostface points out. Regardless, Scream VI makes sure never to replace Campbell while simultaneously giving Gale the single spotlight that she deserves.
Overall, Scream VI is an homage to the die-hard fans and an invitation to new ones. It’s fearless in playing with new plot points and archetypes but understands that it must respect its roots. The Carpenters have almost equal screen time, and their sister bond is much stronger than if the film were to invent a brand-new “final girl.” It feels refreshing to see more teamwork this time around in addition to the two legacy characters returning. Perhaps the most electric part is when the audience is forced to question their authenticity.
Scream VI also leaves the door open for a potential Scream 7 through solid friendships and newfound relationships. For now though, the sixth installment offers an intensely inquisitive take for viewers to experience right from the beginning. All in all, we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into with this movie – and that sharpens its edge.
Scream VI (2023) Official Paramount Pictures Trailer
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