A Whole New Game To Play
Scream VI Is The Best Scream Sequel
While that might seem like a huge compliment to give the movie, it’s not. The Scream franchise has never had the best sequels; 2 was a boring “now we’re in college” take on the first movie, 3 was interesting but had a flawed explanation of the killers’ motivations in the first one, and 4 was the most skippable one of the entire franchise. The fifth one was decent but nowhere near the level of the original. Still, there was something that indicated a better, more self-assured movie could have been made if the directors had the opportunity to make it. What was made instead was Scream VI.
Scream VI has the best opening sequence since the original. The series is known for its opening sequences, and this one is exceptional. It’s tense, subverts your expectations in the best ways possible, and leads you to think that the movie is about to do something it has never done before.
A Mixed Bag
The problem with Scream VI is that it doesn’t follow through with the ideas that it introduces. After the initial reveal of the opening, the film just becomes a tired retread of every other Scream movie that came before it: the gang from the last movie gets reintroduced, they try to figure out who the killer is, and, in this case, when they do figure out who it is, their reveal ends up just being an homage to an earlier film’s twist. Now, while what’s done with the Ghostface killer is an interesting idea that’s never been done before in the series, the nature of their motivation is something done before. And because the character, or characters, revealed to be the killer are severely underdeveloped, the twist ends up falling flat on its face.
Still, the movie had some strong moments before its rather underwhelming finale. For one, the kills are a lot more creative in this one. From characters being killed by forcibly being thrown off things to being killed with shotguns, Ghostface has never been this devious! The directors over at Radio Silence made sure to try new things in this one, and some of them paid off. Additionally, Scream VI is set in New York. A welcome change to the franchise’s traditionally suburban settings that added tension. Having the characters interact with apartment buildings, urban neighborhoods, and the New York subway system was a treat to see, and toying with different sorts of environments in future installments could be an interesting way to shake up an established formula at this point.
Do The Characters Add To The Story?
In terms of characters, though, the film was okay. The romance between two of the main characters felt extremely forced, and one of the subplots that involved two characters being at odds with each other was a decent plot point that made sense within the context of that movie but one that did not seem to add anything to the overall story.
And, while on the topic of main characters, the character of Wayne Bailey was one that just did not work. Dermot Mulroney, the actor who played Bailey, didn’t seem to know how to approach the character, as there were several points throughout the movie where his responses to the things happening around him seemed bizarre, almost as if there was a disconnect between what the movie called for the character to be and what Mulroney thought he should be. Overall, though, every other character was fine. Tony Revolori was fantastic in his role, and Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers was great, as usual. Though her reporter-gone-bad angle is truly tired at this point, and something else needs to be done with her character in future entries. Assuming she made it that far.
Living Up to the Past
At the risk of sounding incredibly biased, the first Scream is, subjectively speaking, the best one in the franchise. Why? Because it is smart. All too often, horror movies ask their viewers to suspend their disbelief for the sake of the plot. And all too often, that plot is riddled with logical errors and character decisions that don’t seem to align with reality in a way that makes sense. However, that isn’t exactly the case with the first movie. In the original Scream, sure, there are some instances of those typical horror movie moments where things don’t necessarily fall in line with what a normal person would do in any given scenario, but those moments are few and far between, and what we’re left with is a plot that genuinely catches one off-guard upon first viewing. The viewer is made to believe there must just be one killer in the movie and that that killer must be Billy, the love interest of the movie’s protagonist. But the movie is aware of that assumption and uses it against the viewer all the way up until the finale, where the guard that they’ve manipulated into letting down comes right around to bite in an incredibly compelling way. It’s a beautifully executed reveal that took what we thought we knew about the characters and turned it all on its head in a third act that, to this day, remains the best in all of the series.
Ultimately, if VI could have just stuck to its guns and gone through with what it established in its opening sequence, it could’ve ended up a much better movie that would’ve easily lived up to the quality of the first one. But, instead, we got a movie that very much followed in the footsteps of its predecessors and gave us a rehashed version of a twist that wasn’t even good the first time around. Anyone who liked the previous films in the Scream franchise will absolutely find something to love about this one—otherwise, this is an enjoyable film to watch all on its own, but it’s one that ultimately fails to live up to its full potential.
Scream VI (2023) Official Paramount Trailer