Movie Review: Scream VI
Deep into this slasher franchise, the filmmakers are still finding ways to freshen up the proceedings — such as a thrilling relocation to the streets of Manhattan.
On the occasion of its sixth installment, the “Scream” franchise would be forgiven for taking it easy — replaying the suburban setting and high-school whodunit plot of the franchise’s best installments. Happily, the 28-year-old series does not lack for ambition and chooses to stretch its wings with this sequel.
The setting receives its most significant update yet, trading idyllic California suburbs for the crowded streets of Manhattan. The biggest strength of “Scream VI” lies in the opportunities afforded it by this location — the masked killer cornering his intended victims in a tiny bodega or following them onto a packed subway car.
Structurally, too, the new chapter — directed by the team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, returning from the fifth installment — tries a few new tricks, including an unexpected opening sequence. For most fans (myself included; I can’t be unbiased here, the original is an all-time favorite), a little effort and more of the series’ signatures is all that’s needed.
Sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) have left Woodsboro, with Tara enrolling in college in the Big Apple and Sam coming along to keep an eye on her. Tara is eager to move on, while Sam has become the target of online conspiracy theories relating to the last round of killings. Fortunately, they have backup; close friends Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) have tagged along, and newswomen and frequent Ghostface target Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is also currently residing in Manhattan.
When a few folks in Sam and Tara’s circle turn up in pieces, the authorities — including a local detective (Dermot Mulroney) and a mysterious FBI agent (Hayden Panettiere, returning from the fourth film) — consider Sam the prime suspect. As the body count rises, however, a deeper mystery is teased.
The payoff won’t be nearly as satisfying as the setup. It’s odd that “Scream VI” shows ambition for the first two acts then falls back on safe choices with the ending; perhaps, this deep in the series, there was no willingness to deliver a conclusion that would rock the boat.
While that late-game fumble reduces “Scream VI” to a middling entry in the franchise, that’s still pretty good; it’s slick, occasionally scary, sometimes funny and effortlessly intriguing. Even deep in the series, this brand outpaces its competitors simply by trying a bit harder.
My Rating: 7/10
“Scream VI” is now playing in theaters.