“Who gives a f*** about movies?!” growls Ghostface before “Scream VI” splashes on screen. His killing spree through New York challenges what fans consider a faithful Scream movie…with gratifying results. Since Neve Campbell bowed out due to insufficient pay, the stakes weighing on the film only tripled. Would audiences care about Ghostface WITHOUT Sidney Prescott? What would that mean for the fate of Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers? Will Jenna Ortgea, fresh off her Wednesday success, have a bigger role after being sidelined for 2022’s Scream? Thankfully, it’s obvious just how much of a f*** Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett give about Wes Craven’s Horror treasure.
Bertinelli-Olpin and Gillett quickly indicate that this is not your older sibling’s Ghostface. Subverted expectations earmark the opening sequence, from immediate unmasking to the killer’s disregard for cinema. New York sets the scene for a gorier Ghostface - who's terrifyingly comfortable with a shotgun. Toto, we’re not in Woodsboro anymore.
Familiarity still rewards devout fans, especially with the plot mirroring Scream 2. The reveal of a Ghostface family is exciting, even though the trio has the weakest performances in a solid cast. To be fair, Mikey Madison’s Amber is a tough act to follow. Hayden Panettiere’s return as Kirby is a welcome callback to Scream 4. Gale also returns with a bit more venom than her previous iteration. There’s not much time to miss Dewey or Sidney thanks to the dynamic trauma-bond of the affectionately named core four. Melissa Barrera’s Sam and Ortega’s Tara vividly portray opposite ends of trauma processing. The Meeks-Martin siblings get some shine with love interests and a “rule” breakdown that would make their uncle proud. Although, Jasmin Savoy Brown continues to seem criminally under-used.
Despite Brown’s love interest meeting an untimely demise, the Queer threads throughout Scream VI remain lively and strong. A conversation between Gale and Sam drives home the idea of “making your own family,” a narrative all too familiar with LGBTQIA2S+ communities. Gale’s near-death experience was convincing for a moment. But Weathers would HAVE to live in order for her latest book to be adapted into the crime series she mentions so that Scream 7 can mirror Scream 3. Sorry, did that reach hurt your back?
The Halloween season timeline makes room for a bevy of Horror cameos ranging from Us’ tethered to Midsommar’s May Queen. All in all, the pacing and emotional core of this film make for a thrilling and exciting new chapter in Ghostface mythology. In fact, some fan-catered moments (like the repeated Loomis sanity breaks) drag on rather than respect the new elements that make this film a Scream.