For over 25 years, the question “Do you like scary movies?” has sent chills down the spines of horror lovers. Hell, even non-horror lovers know Billy Lumis’ (Skeet Ulrich) famous line before slicing and dicing Drew Barrymore to pieces in the first Scream movie. Last year, directors Tyler Gillet and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin proved they were worthy of following in Wes Craven’s iconic footsteps by bringing Ghostface back for a new killing spree while paying homage to the beloved ’90s film that started it all. But could they do it again without screwing up all the good they’ve done so far?
The short answer is: Yes. Scream VI does everything a sequel–excuse us, requel–should do. The body count is higher, the kills are gorier, and the final showdown between the survivors and Ghostface is a spectacle unlike any Scream movie that’s come before. What’s really cool is how Gillet and Bettinelli-Olpin set up their own Scream playground to play in without losing sight of the original series that paved the way for these new adventures.
The first rule you learn in screenwriting class is that a good movie comes with a surprising but inevitable end. That sounds like an oxymoron, and it is a difficult needle to thread, especially in the slasher genre, but it gets pulled off here. Without spoilers, the Ghostface reveal in Scream VI is layered and surprising, but once the truth is out you realize the killer couldn’t have been anyone else. The setting for the final showdown also allows Scream VI to pay homage to every Ghostface that came before so it feels like all of them have a moment to shine.
That being said, Scream VI is not a perfect film, but its faults are minor point deductions rather than glaring flaws. Melissa Barrera as Samantha Carpenter remains a compelling final girl, struggling to overcome the darkness inside of her, courtesy of her Lumis heritage. Jenna Ortega helps to balance that as the more optimistic Tara, but at times it was hard to tell if Ortega was having a hard time shaking her Wednesday Addams persona or if the girl just loves a deadpan.
The nitpickers will stay hung up on the fact that Ghostface gets a gun in the movie. We’ll go ahead and tell you that the killer’s time with a firearm is showcased in its entirety during the trailer and otherwise doesn’t stray from their murder weapon of choice. The brief gun usage makes sense within the context of that particular scene, but in the naysayers” defense, it didn’t seem wholly necessary to make such a big deviation from Ghostface”s MO besides the shock value.
Scream VI’s biggest crime is its underutilization of the city of New York. The marketing campaign made a big deal of Ghostface moving to the city, but the Big Apple isn’t really a character in the film outside of one subway scene that could have happened on any metropolis public transit. It’s a different backdrop than Woodsboro, but it never feels like the crew needed to be in New York or that it added anything special to this Ghostface’s kills or overall motive. The movie could have happened in San Francisco or Seattle or Boston without anyone really noticing, and it feels like something cool could have been done here to make such a drastically different city feel like more integral part of the proceedings.
Where the movie outpaces even the original series is in relationship development between the survivors. Did Sydney (Neve Campbell) and Gale (Courteney Cox) give you the impression they ever had anything to talk about besides their shared trauma? Meanwhile, the survivors of Scream (2022) have created their own pod when we reunite with them in Scream VI. They hang out in the same friend group. They look out for each other at parties. We’re willing to bet they probably have Thanksgiving together. While that bond was initiated out of trauma like the original Woodsboro squad, their obvious genuine affection for each other as people and not just trauma mates makes you root for them throughout the film. If you’re not leaving the theater in search of a Core-4 T-shirt we have to question if you have a heart at all.
That chemistry is only cemented as fun newcomers Quinn (Liana Liberato), Ethan (Jack Champion), Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Danny (Josh Segarra) try to make their way into the inner circle and find themselves at an impasse, no matter how charming and delightful they are in their own ways.
As Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) states in the obligatory rules breakdown scene in every Scream movie, a requel doesn’t have any rules. Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin could have used that as an excuse to jump the shark. While they definitely take risks, their devotion to the original series remains front and center. They take big swings and make everything bigger as a sequel should do, but their feet remain fully planted on the holy ground paved before them.
So, do you like scary movies? We’re not scared to say we like this one.