‘Scream 6’: Lost in New York

Ghostface stalks the Big Apple in a surprisingly fresh sequel

To love the Scream films means you have exquisite taste and have experienced perfection. The first Scream was a love letter to horror movies, and a delicious satire at the same time. The film’s presumptive heroine dies on screen within the first 10 minutes! It.was.shocking.

Some horror fans may not even realize just how much the OG Scream’s trope-trouncing defied audience expectations and breathed new life into the slasher genre. Detractors might say the subsequent five sequels are selling out, or weak compared to the original. In my opinion, six films in nearly 30 years shows incredible restraint. Consider that the Friday the 13th franchise made the same number of films in the 80s alone.

SCREAM 6 ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: Matt Betinelli-Opin, Tyler Gillett
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick, Kevin Williamson
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Courtney Cox, Hayden Panettierre
Running time: 114 min

This review will contain spoilers for Screams 1 through 5, but if you haven’t seen them you’re probably not reading this?

The previous installation of Scream was a “requel”, introducing new characters with old connections and Ghostface killers once again attacking the teens of Woodsboro. Beloved characters like Dewey straight-up died in this massacre after surviving so many other traumatic sprees. It was, on many levels, gutting. It left fans wondering where the franchise could go next, especially without Neve Campbell. Don’t worry, Sid’s not dead! They quite publicly left Campbell out of this sequel, reportedly over a pay dispute.

While Jenna Ortega’s Tara is a likable, well-acted character, it’s just not the same without Sidney. Sidney’s persistence against a truly stunning tableau of bloodthirsty thrill killers made these movies special, and it sucks to lose the character and actor over something like money. If I were an eccentric billionaire I would pay Neve myself. The film attempts to balance out this shortcoming by bringing back an old fan favorite and transporting the crew to the East Coast.

It was a refreshing change seeing Tara and her pals navigate the subway as they dodged Ghostface. Scream films have nearly always been set in Woodsboro or the surrounding areas, so having a completely new atmosphere to contend with made everything feel more fresh. Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby is a welcome returning character as well, and it’s absolutely hilarious that she’s an FBI agent now. A completely logical illogical choice that feels right at home in the Scream universe.

Scream 6
“Excuse me, do you know where I can transfer to the L?”–Ghostface takes the subway in Scream 6.

Tara’s friends from Woodsboro have all joined her to attend college in the Big Apple, and they’ve made new friends along the way. It benefits the movie to have the entire crew there, and it makes sense for Tara’s character that she’d want to get the hell out of town after what she survived. Seeing the friends partying, carefree, but still hypervigilant when it comes to personal safety makes the murderous twists that much more satisfying.

Sam is the one weak point in an otherwise capable sequel. The first film had Sam dragging her boyfriend to her hometown, desperate to be with her sister after she was violently attacked. Unfortunately, this little visit ended with multiple deaths in her sister’s friend group thanks to … that same boyfriend she brought home. Despite that deeply traumatizing experience, Sam is still arrogant and assumes she is the best person to protect Tara. The problem is, she sucks at it. She harangues Tara, despite not doing a tremendous job or even being honest with her sister most of the time. Tara is so much more badass than Sam could ever hope to be, and the sisterly chemistry just isn’t there. Like, Dewey died for this y’all. For THIS!  If they could ever find a slice in the script AND the budget in order to bring Neve back, Sam might be an expendable body.

Overall, this entry certainly isn’t the best in the Scream oeuvre, but it’s a lot of fun and will satisfy the fans. I’m hopeful the future will be filled with twists, turns, and lanky goofs in Ghostface masks.

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Kristin Clifford

Kristin Clifford is a comedy writer in Los Angeles. She started in Chicago, studying improv and performing stand-up, but has traded the stage for the page. Recent projects include writing for season 2 of Cathy in Real Life.

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