What is Scream without Sidney Prescot? What is Scream without Dewey Riley? Is it still the franchise we know and love, or should it have died like the many redshirts that have met their maker in the previous entries?
These questions ran through my head as I awaited the release of Scream 6 in theaters. I was as nervous as a turkey before Thanksgiving, thinking that one of my favorite film franchises would jump the shark and become a soulless, boring mess.
Oh boy, was I wrong! The Scream series of films has extended its streak of producing banger after banger after banger.
Scream 6 follows the Carpenter sisters, Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Sam (Melissa Barrera), as they move to New York to try to put the traumatic events of Scream (2022) behind them. But, alas, a new Ghostface surfaces to terrorize them once again. “New City, New Rules” is the tagline of the film, a fitting teaser for what’s to come.
The latest installment’s biggest challenge was to overcome its lack of legacy characters returning, the historically strong backbone of the series. Neve Campbell wasn’t returning for financial reasons, and David Arquette was skewered like a pig in the previous entry, so we only had Courteney Cox’s Gail Weathers to hold down the fort. The addition of Scream 4’s Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) was the only other character added that appeared in the previous entries.
But what Scream 6 did excellently was establish a new survivor group, The Core Four. This masterstroke cemented Sam and Tara Carpenter and Mindy and Chad Meeks-Martin (Jasmine Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding) as the new protagonists of the franchise, allowing the IP the space to grow and evolve. Yes, they’re very different from the original group, but that’s also what makes them interesting as hell!
Sam and the Meeks-Martins also have just enough legacy DNA in them for it to be a coherent saga. Sam being the illegitimate daughter of the first Ghostface, Billy Loomis, and Mindy, and Chad being the niece and nephew of Randy Meeks, Sidney’s best friend from the first film, links the characters together nicely.
After two films with The Core Four, I’m confident that they can let Gail and Sidney live in relative peace for the rest of their days, never needing to face another psycho killer again! If Gail survives, that is…
Scream is the king of openings that subvert expectations. Did you see how Drew Barrymore was sliced, diced, and hung in the first entry? Did anyone see that coming? The newest film does another fine job of lulling you into a false sense of security before turning the tables at the last second.
This one got me good. There was an air of disappointment just after the first kill. What? Is that it? That’s your opening? But, little did I know, minutes later, that my jaw would drop. The intro was awesome.
The introduction was only the beginning of the violence. This Ghostface was a different breed. The antagonist is dangerous as ever and, somehow, more brutal. Passers-by are not safe. Nobody is safe. The only goal is Sam and Tara. They must die. And the body count is a reflection of Ghostface’s determination.
But the violence didn’t just come from Ghostface.
The Carpenter sisters can be ferocious. When someone in the family is the daughter of Billy freaking Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), you can expect some genetic overtures. Possibly in the form of murderous outbursts, right? We saw it in Scream (2022) when Sam stuck Richie (Jack Quaid) a bazillion times! The psychosis is itching to come out and play.
And that’s what Ghostface is counting on. The new iteration seems obsessed with Sam, and the whole world is now against her. Online rumors have suggested that she was the real killer in Woodsboro the year before, so she’s become a target. Or is this a misdirect? Has her mind completely broken and Billy’s voice taken over?
Trying to figure out the identity of the murderer is my favorite part of all Scream movies, and the mystery within the sixth installment didn’t disappoint. In fact, it played on my fanaticism for the franchise! If you haven’t read my previous article, A Brief History of the Woodsboro Murders, then you may have been missing out. There are oodles of callbacks to the previous five films that will have any horror fan nerd out HARD.
Scream 6 was everything that I wanted it to be. It was a tense slasher thriller comedy that had me guessing from minute one until the reveal. A tour de violence with genuine moments of shock. Ghostface is a threat, with nobody safe from the chopping… *ahem*… stabbing block.
Ok, so there are some glaring plot holes that make you think, HUH? How did they get away with that? How was that even possible? They’re the gaps in the story that come to you after the movie has finished when you’re analyzing the details. And, once you know the identity of the killer, the acting could be described as hammy, bordering on abrasive. But these are just nitpicks.
At no point did I think, “this would be better if Sidney were here.” The movie did not need her to come back. Of course, it would have been nice, but in a memberberries way rather than for the advancement of the plot.
For the advancement of the franchise.
Because, as Mindy explains, we have a franchise on our hands. The old sequel and requel rules are gone. The new rules prevail.
What’s your favorite scary movie? No. No. No. What’s your favorite scary franchise?
It’s Scream. Hands down. Votes were tallied, and it was a landslide. I can’t wait for the next one!