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Scream VI (2023) March 13th, 2023

I’ve discussed my reverence for the Scream franchise when reviewing 5cream and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. When I buy my ticket to a Scream I expect a meta whodunit with callbacks, legacy characters, tense chase scenes and above all a clever acerbic script. Unfortunately Scream VI delivers on all those expectations by mindlessly going through the motions without any of its predecessor’s piss and vinegar.

Its not uncommon for a franchise to lose steam overtime but Scream VI is noticeably unenthusiastic, coasting on a familiar structure, bound by the rigidity of the franchise’s patented format. Hoisted by the very elements essential to the Scream brand. Is it any wonder they’ve gone stale?

In the eleven years between Scream 3 and Scream 4 popular horror film trends had changed enough to provide the franchise with fertile ground to grow a fresh new Scream story. Eleven years in an ever changing media landscape would produce enough entertainment manure for 5cream to harvest another classic. Scream VI is too much of a good thing too soon, premiering only a year after 5cream, the self aware ‘rules’ of this film promise it’ll be just another predictable addition to a franchise. Well done I guess.

Scream VI flies too close to the satirists sun and becomes the very thing it critiques, an unnecessary retreading of familiar ground. Luckily for us, the Scream franchise spells this out in plain terms. At one point a character says something like “This is a franchise now, that means we’re going to do exactly what happened in the first sequel.”

The first Scream followed high school characters, so then did the requel, the first sequel followed those characters to college, so then must the sequel to the requel… AKA THIS movie… Scream VI. Sure enough, there we are, at frat parties in New York City following the characters we met in the last installment as they navigate life after the traumatic murders that will undoubtably plague the rest of their short lives. Suddenly we’re jumping over a familiar shark as the killer in Scream VI is revealed to be the psychotic parent of the murderer from the previous film. That felt fresh when Scream 2 did it in 1997 paying homage to Friday the 13th in the process but now, especially after they spelled it out for us, it just feels redundantly phoned in.

There are brief glimpses in Scream VI of the brilliance I expect from this franchise. Thirty minutes into the runtime it sure felt like we were about to see the killers successfully frame the lead character for these new murders and those of the previous film, thereby clearing the name of their murdering son from 5cream. But they didn’t stick with that, it got bogged down in picking off characters and throwing out red herrings instead of sticking to an intriguing premise.

Every film in the Scream franchise should to seek to be different, do something we’ve never seen before in the franchise. Well we’ve never seen the final girl get framed for all the murders in the movie and retroactively framed for the murders in the previous film. That would set her up for a redemption in the third film, released from prison and with the help of her family and friends she hunts down the people who framed her only for Ghost Face to return and pick off the support system that stuck with her through those tough years. A showdown between Samantha (that’s the name of the lead in the past two Screams, she’s the new Sidney) and the killers reveals them to be whomever we need, Richie’s dad and siblings? Why not? Who gives a shit? But something other than another boring rendition of Ten Little Indians wallpapered with horror movie posters. None of us wanted the standout element of Scream VI to be how bad it lets us down.

All that being said, I had a good time at the movies. I’m grateful they’re still making 3D movies and seeing Scream VI with those silly glasses certainly made it better. Scream VI is the worst in the franchise but it’s still fun and this time that’ll have to be enough.

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