By Joel Harley
Ghostface takes Manhattan in the latest entry of the revitalised Scream franchise. Reborn with 2022’s Scream ‘requel,’ the series heads outside of its usual stomping ground, taking the survivors of that film to the Big Apple. Ghostface too.
Together with twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) have relocated to New York, where the three youngsters are studying at college and trying to recover from their trauma. Less so Sam, who finds herself troubled by her Woodsboro experience – and the wave of conspiracy theorists (thanks, Reddit) insisting that she was responsible for the massacre. Naturally, it isn’t long before the cycle starts all over again.
Directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin are keen to establish an ‘anything goes’ vibe to the film, from its subverted opening sequence (hi, Samara Weaving) to the inner city setting. In her big Randy Meeks monologue, Mindy continues to insist that the rulebook has been torn up – now we’re in the thick of franchise-dom, no-one is safe.
But, for all of the film’s loud protestations, it sticks quite strictly to the Scream sequel playbook – returning legacy characters (Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers; Hayden Panettiere reprising her Scream 4 role), red herrings layered upon red herrings, a convoluted motive, and plenty of menacing phone calls. Mindy goes out of her way to insist that this is nothing like Scream 2… but it’s a lot like Scream 2.
As if to distract from how formulaic this all is, the directors throw their all into the film’s Ghostface sequences, making the most of the setting. Whether it’s terrorising a crowded bodega or stalking the core four on a packed subway, Ghostface is at his (or her!) most relentless here. Whether anything really goes is debatable, but Ghostface is certainly capable of popping up anywhere, at any time.
The level of violence, too, has been upped, making Scream VI the bloodiest, most brutal film in the franchise so far. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) should be relieved that she sat this one out – absent due to a pay dispute, and hand-waved away in a lame excuse from a hit-and-miss script. In its newcomers (Jack Champion, Liana Liberato, Devyn Nekoda) the series finds its most disposable Ghostface fodder to date – worrying too much about them as potential Ghostfaces to make anyone care about them as characters.
In relocating the action to the big city, Scream VI finds a renewed sense of ferocity and inspiration – but struggles to stay one step ahead of the viewer. It’s a brutal, often shocking attempt at subverting the franchise, but is only about half as clever and unpredictable as it thinks it is. Anything goes, but only to an extent.
Scream VI is in cinemas from March 10th.