The reboot of the Scream franchise in 2022 might have been intended to be dumped in the dead zone of January, but its unexpectedly high $81 million box office put a sequel on the fast track. And it’s a good thing they did, because the new young cast members – notably Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmine Savoy Brown, and Mason Gooding – are hot properties and getting hotter by the minute.
Scream VI finds the foursome away from the cursed town of Woodsboro, as they have all relocated to the notoriously safe New York City together. Tara (Ortega) and twins Mindy (Savoy Brown) and Chad (Gooding) are students at the fictional Blackmoore University, while Sam (Barrera) does her best to keep Tara safe after reconnecting with her sister in the previous film.
The emergence of a new Ghostface killer not only puts all of them at risk, but also new roommates Quinn (Liana Liberato) and Ethan (Jack Champion), as well as Sam’s new love interest, Danny (Josh Segarra). Helping to track down the killer (or killers) is Det. Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panatierre), now an FBI agent after being terrorized herself in Scream 4.
Still sticking with the credo of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the filmmakers – returning co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Ginnett, and returning co-writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick – go back to the same formula seen many times before over and over again. The killer attacks, manages to stab a victim or two before getting hit by a blunt object, disappears mysteriously after the protagonists are distracted, rinse and repeat.
At this point it would be surprising if they deviated much at all from what is expected, since fans don’t seem to mind the repetition. That’s not to say that the film is completely devoid of entertainment. The brutal opening scene, another hallmark of the series, manages to bring a degree of cleverness to the film. And even though most of the kills are telegraphed, the level of violence will satisfy any hardcore horror fan.
However, the film too often takes the easy road. It’s set around Halloween, so that hordes of people roaming the streets in masks, many of them Ghostface ones, seems natural. Instead of raising the tension, it somehow takes it away as the filmmakers can’t use the idea properly. Sam being haunted by her parentage once again plays a big part in the story, but just as in the last film, it doesn’t add up to much.
The lack of good material is a crying shame, as the film truly does have a gem of a cast. Ortega is at the top of everyone’s list after the Netflix show Wednesday and other recent roles. Barrera has the charisma and the looks to be the star in many more projects. And Savoy Brown and Gooding have the goods to easily slide back and forth between movies and TV.
In the Scream franchise, Ghostface will never die because there will always be someone new who’s willing – or psychotic enough – to don the mask and do some more slashing. But unless filmmakers are able to inject some new ideas into the mix, it might be best to let the series die, once and for all.
Scream VI opens in theaters on March 10.