‘Scream VI’ Is Ringing, But Viewers Need To Stop Answering The Phone

Written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, “Scream VI” has viewers terrified to answer the phone.

In the most recent installment of the “Scream” franchise, Ghostface makes New York City their new hunting ground. Written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, “Scream VI” has viewers terrified to answer the phone. 

After months of anticipation, “Scream VI” was released March 10. Unfortunately, marketing for the movie was scarier than the movie itself. Ghostfaces have been spotted across the country, bringing scares from the screen to the streets. Paramount also allowed fans to put their number into a system to receive a call from Ghostface. These two events, along with social media advertisement, set the movie on a higher bar than it could reach. 

After the events of “Scream” (2022), half siblings Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) find themselves desperate to escape the brutal history of Woodsboro but quickly learn they’ve gained a following, including twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding).

Set during Halloween season, black hooded robes and a plastic white mask, the infamous Ghostface costumes appear everywhere. The characters quickly find out a new killer may be hiding under one of the masks.

The film’s exclusion of Sidney Prescott, the franchise’s original protagonist, was hardly covered up by returning characters Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). Campbell didn’t return to the set due to monetary disputes according to Variety. Brushed aside with a throwaway line to cement her story, the absence of Sidney’s character hurts the film. Without the iconic final girl, the movie feels set apart from the rest of the franchise. 

The opening scene, containing the murder of Ghostface’s first victim, falls in tandem with the running tradition of previous films in the franchise. While this scene sets the tone and level of gore for the movie, it falls flat compared to Tara’s scene in “Scream” (2022). With landlines becoming part of the past, the film struggled to keep the same nostalgic opening while using cell phones.

Ortega’s (“X,” “Wednesday”) acting held the movie together. Her exemplary skills in showcasing raw fear and emotion feel authentic. The 20-year-old shined superbly in one-on-one moments with other characters, displaying her genuine facial expressions. 

The “Scream” franchise holds true to its self-reflective nature. Mindy, niece of Randy Meeks — a victim of Ghostface’s past — sits the entire group down, including new members Anika Kayoko (Devyn Nedoka), Ethan Landry (Jack Champion) and Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato) to discuss the rules of a franchise. Following in a similar path like her uncle, Mindy gives the groups some keys to survival. 

Mindy tells the group everyone’s a suspect, especially Sam, the daughter of original Ghostface Billy Loomis from the 1996 film. As the daughter of a serial killer, Sam grapples with self-identity. Barrera seems to use this struggle to her advantage when making character choices throughout the film. 

This movie truly excels in increased romance and character development. While the movie is ultimately a slasher, connecting the audience to the characters makes their deaths more horrifying.  

“Scream VI” falls prey to the Bury-Your-Gays trope, where LGBTQ+ characters and relationships are introduced to the narrative only to be dead by the end of the story. Queer relationships in the film are given significantly less screen time than heteronormative counterparts. 

Aside from romance, family quickly became a major theme of “Scream VI.” The Carpenter sisters and the Meeks-Martin twins may not have many blood relatives left alive, but they have each other. The found-family trope gives viewers something to root for during intense scenes. 

The level of gore within the film was more than previous movies, while kills happened in sequence, there were minimal stakes to make them shocking to the viewer. 

With the eventual reveal of Ghostface, identity and motives lacked substance. Following in a similar pattern from the earlier films, the person under the mask was unsurprisingly out for revenge.  

“Scream VI” doesn’t have award-winning potential, but it was humorously entertaining for fans of the franchise. With moments of knife-twisting horror and callbacks to previous movies, “Scream VI” is a terrifyingly delightful sequel — just not a new favorite scary movie.

“Scream VI” is in theaters now.

Featured image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Xavier Barrios

Xavier Barrios