Scream VI (2023)

"It never works out for the dipshit in the mask"

The Scream franchise has always been a divisive one among horror fans, with opinions varying wildly on which installments stand out from the rest. The only general consensus seems to be that Scream 3 is among the worst and the original is among the best. But every fan I know I has a different rank ordering of the series. So despite some positive buzz, I approached Scream VI with a degree of skepticism, especially after finding the previous entry, confusingly titled Scream (5), to be a bit of a letdown compared to the rest of the series.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scream VI proved to be a significantly more engaging and satisfying experience than its re-reboot predecessor. It’s clear that the filmmakers drew heavy inspiration from Scream 2, much in the same way that Scream (5) paid homage to the original. Like part 2, Scream VI strikes a good balance between tension and comedy throughout its runtime, with one particularly scary sequence taking place on a subway ride, the masses of people a cloud of fog for Ghostface, that ranks among the better stalking sequences in the franchise’s history.

One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in its returning cast of teenage characters, who have dubbed themselves the “core four.” Their development and chemistry are a highlight of this outing, and it’s clear that the filmmakers have put a lot of thought into fleshing out these characters and their relationships. I care about Sam, Tara, Mindy, and Chad almost as much as I ever did Sidney, Dewey, and Gale. Scream VI also brings back Hayden Panettiere from Scream 4, who was one of the best sidekicks in the franchise’s history. (No sign of Adam Brody despite my pleas.)

While it’s a net positive entry in the franchise, Scream VI is not without its problems. Like all of the other entries in the series (with the arguable exception of the original), the film runs about 15-20 minutes too long, with the result being that the final stretch loses quite a bit of the film’s narrative momentum. But the reveal of Ghostface’s identity is more intriguing and mold-breaking than part 5, which pulled an unsatisfying double-reverse fakeout.

Two other, related issues that plague Scream VI: First, the characters are making dum-dum decisions left and right. It’s the exact kind of horror movie idiocy that Scream has taunted in the past. And when the characters subsequently get stabbed, the movie lets an astonishing number of victims survive. This considerably lowers the sense stakes and danger, making it harder to take the threat of Ghostface seriously. If they’re going to get stabbed and survive, why do I care what they do?

Despite these shortcomings, Scream VI is a worthy addition to the reliable franchise, thanks in large part to its fresh setting and strong character dynamics. I would place it in the same approximate tier as Scream 2 and Scream 4, though at the bottom of that tier. It doesn’t reach the same high points as those outings, but it’s a little more consistently tense and engaging throughout its runtime.

Scream VI is a ultimately a satisfying slasher. It has enough connective thread to satisfy fans of the series but brings in some fresh ideas to keep things interesting. Scream may be running out of ways to break new clever ground in its meta-commentary, but so long as it can maintain its zesty comic tone and solid stabby scares, I’ll keep watching.

My ranking: Scream 1 > Scream 2 > Scream 4 > Scream 6 > Scream 5 > Scream 3

Is It Good?

Good (5/8)

Follow Dan on Letterboxd or Twitter. Join the Discord for updates and discussion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *