• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Review: Scream VI

ByAoife Radley

Mar 25, 2023
Ghostface, villain of the Scream franchise

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What is the Scream franchise without metacommentary on the state of the horror genre? Every film in the franchise has had something to say about the horror genre, whether that’s Scream 2 making fun of the fearmongering idea that scary movies encourage real-life violence, Scream 3 satirizing trilogies and the exploitation of women (perhaps more pertinent in the wake of the #Metoo movement), or Scream V going after toxic fandom and the contemporary trend for requels (films which function both as reboots and sequels). 

Scream VI is ostensibly about franchises, a pertinent topic given the stranglehold a small number of franchises have on our culture, yet it fails to grapple with what it means to transition from a series into a franchise. In its own words, franchises are bigger, better, and less predictable than series are, an evaluation I simply cannot agree with in a world where Marvel Studios release slight alterations on a tried-and-tested formula at least three times a year, but beyond a dozen or so lines Scream VI mostly fails to critically engage with the concept of becoming a franchise. Stab, the fictionalised version of the Scream films which exist within the universe of the books, goes unmentioned, a sign that something has gone wrong when it comes to the metacommentary and self-awareness that make Scream unique.

Scream VI does get one thing right, though. Much like the franchises which dominate our media landscape, Scream VI is obsessed with the past. References have always been a part of the Scream series from the moment Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) answered her phone in the original, but they’re more numerous here. The mentions and visual references to other horror films are still here, but they’ve been taken one step further. As well as the inclusion of Samara Weaving, star of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s earlier film Ready or Not, wearing a dress which evokes her character’s costume in that film, you can spot dozens of iconic horror characters in the background of most scenes. This evocation of contemporary franchises’ obsession with easter eggs both acts as a nice nod to horror fans in itself whilst further connecting the film with contemporary horror cinema. The centrality of earlier Ghostface killings to the film further plays into this obsession with the past.

Despite my complaints about the decline in the quality of Scream VI’s metacommentary compared to previous entries in the series, it’s still another great entry in a series which doesn’t have any real weak links. The returning cast from Scream V had good chemistry in 2022’s entry, but here they earn their position as successors to Sydney (who is unfortunately absent here due to salary disputes between Neve Campbell and Paramount), Gale, and Dewey. Combined with particularly great performances from Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, and Jasmin Savoy Brown, some really nice cinematography, and some quality kills, Scream VI is a great sequel to last year’s amazing requel.

Ghostface at Texas Frightmare Weekend.” by Ian Aberle is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.