Considering the deck directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett — along with writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick — had stacked against them, last year’s Scream was exactly the breath of fresh air the franchise needed to survive. As they’ve stated throughout the franchise, the sequels have to top the last, and Scream VI more than lives up to it.
They took the house of mirrors that Kevin Williamson built and found ways of making it their own. While simultaneously respecting what’s come before, the franchise is definitely in the best hands possible. Scream VI manages to be bigger, bloodier, scarier, funnier, and surprisingly more heartfelt, than 2022’s Scream, with no signs of slowing down.
It’s been one year since sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) survived their own Ghostface attack in Woodsboro and have now moved to New York City. Tara strives to be a normal college student, but Sam just can’t seem to get over their past and takes overprotective to extreme measures. Not helping things is an internet troll named “Woodsboro Truther,” slandering Sam’s name and blaming her for the murders and that she framed Richie. Also along for the ride are Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), but before long, Ghostface comes calling with the past just not ready to die.
The “Core Four” team up with Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), when Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) — now an FBI agent — shows up. They also have to decide how trustworthy Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) may be after she went back on her word and wrote another book. Complicating things further is a growing suspect list thanks to their new friends: Anika (Devyn Nekoda), Ethan (Jack Champion), and Quinn (Liana Liberato).
Or could Ghostface be Danny (Josh Segarra), the neighbor Sam can’t keep her eyes off, but can’t bring herself to talk to? As a wise man once said: EVERYBODY’S A SUSPECT!
Scream VI comes in a long line of franchises — yes, this is addressed hilariously — where most would have worn out their welcome long before now. With the directors — and returning writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick — giving us a brand new setting, it sets the stage for bigger world building than our beloved Woodsboro or Windsor College. They also capitalize on Detective Bailey, Kirby, and Gale to infuse a missing police procedural angle that we didn’t even know was missing. And just when you thought there was safety in numbers, you’ll never look at the subway the same way again.
I know I’m probably one of the most biased to be making such claims as this being one of the best sequels yet. But don’t let my shrine — yes, I have a Ghostface collection in my office — or daughter’s name — yes, it’s Sidney — fool you, the stakes are higher, the laughs are funnier, and the chase sequences are both scarier and bloodier. The opening scene is a doozy and a brilliant way to turn things on its head. The ladder sequence will have you squirming in your chair. Mindy gets some amazing monologues and the characters have a greater rapport thanks to the returning cast. Luckily, Sam’s visions are kept to a minimum, all of the previous killers are finally acknowledged in one film, Roger L. Jackson continues to be the GOAT, and Ghostface seriously ramps up his kill count.
And yes, the rumors are true, stay through the credits for the first time ever.
If that isn’t enough, Brett Jutkiewicz’s cinematography is wider, giving a broader sense of surroundings to heighten the tension and Brian Tyler’s score is also better this time — possibly from partnering with Sven Faulconer — utilizing even more of Marco Beltrami’s classic themes. A swap in editor, Jay Prychidny, seems to have made for smoother pacing. In-jokes fly at a rapid pace, most of which will be hard to catch. Whether it’s the name of a sorority, a movie playing on a television, a cardboard knight costume — yes, I will confirm that the film takes place around Halloween — or even just a piece of how Gale’s apartment attack is staged, there is plenty of prizes in store for keen eyed viewers.
Scream VI revels in both what’s come before while making sure it lays some groundwork for what may be ahead. The directors even play with expectations, getting super meta with a joke regarding a favorite character from the original film, while twisting that knife just a little more on us. Considering how well received their last Scream was — with both critics and audiences, along with a hefty box office — and the fact that Scream VI manages to be even better, there’s no way a seventh film won’t be announced. And so long as the current cast/crew are still up for another slice, I’ll be right there with them.