Ghostface takes Manhattan. Mostly forgettable, S6REAM is neither bad enough nor good enough to be remembered. This forgettable installment in the SCREAM franchise is written by the brilliant Ready or Not’s James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, but you wouldn’t know it from the contrived, clunky plot the two screenwriters developed. More violence does not a great horror movie make; the amped violence is employed as a tool to compensate for the vapid storytelling. Overstuffed with characters and lacking in any real suspense or thoughtful plotting, SCREAM VI is what happens when stories are dumbed down for TikTok attention spans and those that eat up YouTube trash. The Ready or Not duo should have spent more time understanding why Kevin Williamson’s excellent original screenplay works rather than creating some insipid fan fiction featuring the iconic Ghostface. Suffice it to say, SCREAM 6 is enjoyable enough for legacy fans, but remaining invested in this movie will undoubtedly prove to be an exercise in tolerance for the absurd.
Four survivors of the Ghostface murders, leave Woodsboro behind for a fresh start in New York City. However, they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when a new killer embarks on a bloody rampage.
The SCREAM franchise is famous for its (usually) thoughtful social commentary on the horror genre (more specifically, the slasher); by extension, these meta observations are applicable to society in general. Scream VI provides commentary on franchises and (to my delight, as a film professor) film studies! In fact, Samara Weaving’s character is a film studies professor with an expertise in horror (just like me!). What’s ironic is that for all the knowledge the screenwriters demonstrate in a critical analysis of tropes or patterns of a horror franchise, this movie fails to provide anything meaningful to add to the conversation.
The detrimental problem in this lack of anything new is that the movie loses any kind of real thrill; moreover, it loses any ability to resonate with audiences because of failing to tap into those most primal fears at the bedrock of horror. The very tropes the movie highlights are the very tropes that form obstacles that the movie never overcomes. Furthermore, the problematic screenwriting feels like a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy rather than anything innovative. It doesn’t redefine what it means to be a franchise, it falls victim to the same parasitic infection innate in most franchises.
One promise the movie’s publicity makes—and fulfills—is the amped up violence, both in terms of body count and level of trauma. And there are most certainly going to be those that use the violence as a barometer for satisfaction in watching the film. This is a flawed evaluation method because it has little to nothing to do with the actual storytelling methodology nor quality. Due to the exponentially increased violence, the pacing of the movie is in high gear the whole time, leaving little to no room for emotional resets or breathing room to build suspense or any tangible tension. S6REAM is a lackluster offspring of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s desperately trying to evoke an affection for the legacy property.
Because of the overstuffed cast, there is little time to develop any level of empathy for the characters. The only characters to have any real agency are Gale Weathers and Samantha Carpenter. Even Kirby’s character (whom gets a highly anticipated return) is lacking in dimension or growth arc. Other problems in casting include Jena Ortega whom I cannot take seriously as a final girl because she may as well be Rey from Star Wars for all her invincibility and lack of flaws. I never felt once that her life was in any real danger. An important quality for a final girl is strength, failure, and resilience. Tara is lacking in all these important qualities.
Scream VI (and the predestined Scream 7) may prove to be the nails in the coffin for the slasher. It will take a screenwriter(s) or director that cares about going back to the roots and building upon the soul of legacy properties or the tropes to breathe life into the former screen king of the horror genre. In other words, screenwriters and directors that care about story integrity.
Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida and Indie Film Critics of America. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.