There’s nothing like a Scream movie except other Scream movies. But it’s part of their charm that they play into one another like an ever-expanding shuttle run that keeps returning to touch the start before pushing further out. We’re currently in a Scream “franchise” according to the rules provided in Scream 5, with Scream 6 likely being the second of a modern trilogy. The franchise tag, as it’s explained, means that while the movies are still part of the main Scream series, they are a reboot or “requel” with new and old characters.
Movies About Movies
The Scream movies are always about how slasher movies usually play out, with “the rules” being stated, restated, or updated in every film. The masked killer, referred to as Ghostface, always changes and usually dies at the movie’s end, only to have the mantle picked back up by someone slightly related to someone in a previous film in the next movie. It sounds predictable, and the basic style and tropes are, but it’s surprisingly hard to figure out who the killer is in most cases which is part of the draw.
The movies started by Wes Craven have a unique style and are a must-see for horror and slasher movie fans. It’s interesting that the movies essentially ingrained themselves in horror history and culture by making themselves the slasher movies about slasher movies that reference themselves, other horror movies, and stars regularly. The fifth installment in the series has moved beyond that, though. It has begun to provide parody and commentary on other film and societal trends and tropes. A highlight of this is the end credit scene of Scream 6, which mocks the end credits trend common in blockbuster franchises over the last fifteen years.
Scream 6 was released this year and is a direct sequel to Scream 5 released in 2022. The most significant change going into this movie is that the setting is no longer the small town of Woodsboro, California, like all the other movies, but instead takes place in New York.
The main characters, who deem themselves the “Core Four” all survived the last movie and have moved to New York to try to put the past behind them. The core group consists of Sam(Melissa Barrera), who is the daughter of Billy Loomis(a Ghostface in the first film), her sister, Tara(Jenna Ortega), and their friends- siblings Chad(Mason Gooding) and Mindy(Jasmin Savoy Brown), who are the niece and nephew of Randy who Ghostface killed in Scream 3
The Scream movies usually open with a Ghostface phone call and kill, and while that happens here, things continue with a first-time twist. When the killing hits the news, a Ghostface mask with DNA from a previous Ghostface is at the scene, and the movie takes off.
Moving Ghostface to New York makes for an exciting setting. There are plenty of places, such as the subway or window-to-window apartments, where we’ve never seen Ghostface attack before, that increase the suspense. New York is also always filled with people, which makes Ghostface’s ability to kill without anyone noticing or stopping him even more terrifying. This setting change also means no one is safe such as longtime survivor Sydney Prescott and her family, since the movies can now move anywhere.
The new pair of sisters provide a fascinating twist as they have a certain edge to them. Previously, the original main characters came back time and again to fight off Ghostface. Still, there’s a particular savagery with Sam, especially that makes her something different. She’s constantly fighting with being the daughter of a killer, but the fact that she is seems to be what’s keeping her and her sister alive so far.
The new “franchise rules” seem to mean that anything can happen. Yes, the characters set the rules in Scream 5 and Scream 6, but the rules they are setting are increasingly dangerous, such as legacy characters are just nostalgia fodder now that can die at any time. These new rules raise the stakes, as beloved characters are no longer safe. The Scream franchise has built up these characters by keeping them alive and integral parts of the films for decades. In contrast, while we have Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie in Halloween, hardly any other character has repeatedly appeared or can even be named.
The brutality continues to increase in this new “franchise”. While some may like more violence from Ghostface, the Scream movies’ bread and butter are the mystery and movie commentary. Now Ghostface has no problem using a gun or walking into a crowded building and attacking and killing multiple people with others witnessing. At times this seemed like it may be trigger-worthy for anyone involved in a mass shooting situation, which is common in the U.S. While more creative deaths are always welcome as they keep you guessing, the violence moving into active shooter territory didn’t feel good.
Ever watched a Scream movie and then shortly after watched another? It starts to feel redundant when they are close together. Having the films released in back-to-back years doesn’t help the franchise. While the movies often call back to previous deaths, characters, and killers that make you want to go back and rewatch them, watching them in succession seems to take something away. There isn’t a set date for Scream 7, so hopefully, they will wait a year or 2 to release the third installment in this trilogy to build some suspense.
While the motives of the killers in this movie make sense and are understandable, their characters are weak. The killer is usually right under your nose in the Scream movies, but you still aren’t’ sure until the last minute. Once the reveal occurs in this movie, it’s more of a “Oh…ok…I guess than an “Aha”. Though you are kept guessing until the end(in my opinion) you aren’t really shocked. Previous killers truly got their spotlight during their reveal and explanation monologue, yet this time around, we needed the explanation to understand.
Hayden Pantiere’s Kirby Reed returns after surviving Scream 4. There are fewer and fewer surviving legacy characters as the series continues, so it’s getting harder to pull some out to return that makes sense and that we want to see again. While she’s not the only legacy character to return, she seems to get the most screen time, unfortunately. She’s a tough character but isn’t as likable in this outing as other legacy characters have been in the past. She’s in the movie, but it’s not exactly here or there.
The most glaring problem with this installment in the series is that Sydney does not appear. She is the franchise’s main character, bringing particular strength and warmth to the heroes. She is mentioned in the film more than once but doesn’t appear in any other capacity. Unfortunately, this movie lacks likable developed characters; she could have been the crucial extra to turn that around. The worst aspect of her absence is that it was publicized before the movie and made clear that it was due to a money dispute.
When that story hit the news, a part of me thought: how great and meta (as the franchise likes to be) would it be if the news story was a ploy and Sydney revealed herself in the film’s climax? Alas, it was not to be so and instead leaves a bad taste in your mouth and makes you think what Wes Craven would have said if he was still around.
Overall, Scream 6 was worth the watch and entertaining throughout. Still, the deep dive into requels and modern tropes in Scream 5 served the series better. The reveal and motives in Scream 5 also felt more appropriate to the slasher franchise about slasher movies. I am curious to see where the story goes in the next installment, as many options were already used in these two movies released in back-to-back years. Hopefully, it takes a year to write that well-thought-out story, and we get a little break before the finale of the trilogy and the newly established core characters in a couple of years. I give Scream 6– 3.5 out of 5 Ghostface masks and recommend it for all scary movie fans and film buffs.