Scream is back with more self-referential slashing
After the success of Creed III, it’s time to return to another franchise to another franchise that successfully rebooted. The fifth Scream movie, confusingly titled Scream, was released last year and became a surprise hit with its mix of old faces and new stars. It wasn’t quite up to the standard of the original but enough of a crowd pleaser to inspire a sixth film, albeit without its original star.
For the first time, Neve Campbell will not be appearing in a Scream instalment (with the star citing a pay dispute), and the fictional town of Woodsboro has also been replaced with Manhattan. Picking up after the events of the previous film, sisters Samantha and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) move to New York to study and move on from their ordeal. However, a new Ghostface killer is on the loose, using the crowded metropolis to enact a different brand of chaos.
The last film creaked with the weight of the past, but introduced new characters that were more than just knife fodder. The new setting provides a means of establishing the younger cast away from the legacy, with a new pre-credit sequence combining dating apps and swanky restaurants. Ultimately, it’s about the scares, which are basic and plentiful. The number of killings, and the level of violence, has been dialled up as well. While this makes for a gorier experience, it does also increase the tension.
Scream ‘s meta horror movie analysis felt fresh in 1996 but now feels like one of the conventions it scornfully mocks. Nonetheless, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are reverent to the tone set by the late Wes Craven, and the melodramatic DNA of the original movies still lives in this new iteration.
In the time between movies, Ortega has gained worldwide stardom as Wednesday Addams, bringing familiarity to an already strong bond with co-star Barrera. Those missing Campbell will be glad to see the return of Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers, while Hayden Panettiere pops up in the return no one asked for. The Heroes star was in 2011’s Scream 4, in case you’re wondering, and comes back to the series as an FBI agent.
The Big Apple has just enough bite to make Scream VI worthwhile for those who can’t get enough of self-referential slashers. In an era when elevated horror is winning Oscars, this rule-breaker from the past can’t seem to be anything other than a retro diversion.