When Jason Voorhees tagged along with a class trip to New York City in 1989 his comedic misadventures in the Big Apple resulted in not only one of the worst Friday 13th films ever made but one of the worst horror movies ever made. The dopey shit sandwich of a film ended with killing machine Jason reverting, regressing into a whimpering child when he was immersed in toxic waste water in a sewer. Horror fans wept in despair and sighed in disbelief. Thankfully, Ghostface’s tour of The City That Never Sleeps is a first class ticket all the way.
Scream 6 continues the story of sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) Carpenter who survived Ghostface’s killing spree in the previous film. Since that film, Ortega has been on a meteoric rise due to her portrayal of Wednesday Addams in the Netflix series. She has become one of Hollywood’s hottest properties and for good reason. She is just as dynamite in this film too sharing the screen with Barrera.
The Carpenter sisters have left the bloody streets of Woodsboro, California, moving to New York City to start new lives which includes new friends, new love interests and a new stalker. Coming with them is another Woodsboro survivor, Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) who once again fills in the role of the group’s resident horror nerd / Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) role. Hayden Panettiere also returns as Kirby Reed, now a member of the FBI. Courteney Cox is back too as the beloved muckraking reporter Gale Weathers who this time ends up in a life or death struggle with Ghostface without Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) at her side because Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media and Campbell couldn’t arrive at a deal for her to return, even though she is the franchise’s biggest star. Sorry Courteney, you are on your own this time around.
Besides the clever use of 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, some familiar horror icons appearing on a crowded subway train on Halloween and the usual breakdown of the potential suspects, Scream 6 mostly shies away from the meta horror tropes which is probably a good thing considering how overused they have become in the series. That isn’t to say that the filmmakers don’t mess with the formula in other clever ways. The start of the movie, for example, turns things upside down in a shocking but very exciting way. It is something Scream fans have never seen before and will take most by surprise even though it is only a small part of the larger story.
Once that jarring kickoff is out of the way it doesn’t take long for Scream’s new Scooby Gang to become the target of new Ghostface killer who this time is determined to make Sam pay for what she did in the previous film as well as slice and dice anyone else who gets in their way. You see, since we last saw Sam social media has flipped the script on her and now blames her for what happened in Woodsboro. Well, she is the daughter of original Scream killer Billy Loomis after all.
As Sam loses herself in the urban jungle that is New York she cannot escape her demented bloodline. She continues to be haunted by ‘ghost’ of her dead dad as well as never letting Tara out of her sight or to have much of a life of her own. While Scream 6 moves along at a good, crimson clip it does take the time to explore the rocky yet resilient relationship between the sisters is what everything else revolves around, as it should. The Carpenter sisters and their dynamic are what ignites and drives this new storyline, direction for the series forward.
The kills are just as raw and violent as Scream 5 with most victims being savagely stabbed over and over again, you know, just to make sure they are totally dead, dead, dead. Ghostface’s hits are about quantity not quality but there are some inventive deaths which include one that is the best use of a front door since the ending of the original Nightmare on Elm Street. RIP Marge.
The big move to the big city doesn’t alter the aesthetics of the slasher formula. Except for a subway chase scene and an intense chase sequence that has our heroes crawling across a ladder set between two buildings, the setting surprisingly doesn’t have too much of an impact or inject much character, which is surprising. Apart from those scenes goings-on could have taken place in any city big or small, including Woodsboro. You would think there were be more of push to at least showcase those world famous landmarks but perhaps the filmmakers have learned from the mistakes of the dunces behind Jason Goes to Manhattan.
The only disappointing part of Scream 6 is the big whodunit reveal which incidentally takes place in a shrine to everything Scream or Stab. It might be easily one of the most predictable, transparent and over-the-top Scream unmaskings and that is saying a lot because we are talking about a series that cast Laurie Metcalf (forever Aunt Jackie to most of us) as Billy Loomis’ estranged and deranged mother.
Besides not naming Scream 2022 ‘Scream 5’ the franchise’s new production team of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, have done the original team of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson very proud following faithfully in their footsteps. They have injected some much-needed new blood while also respecting its roots unlike many filmmakers these days who find themselves at the helm of other revered franchises. With this team’s second film in the can it is clear that the legacies of Scream and Ghostface are in good, if bloody hands and these filmmakers are leaving their own unique fingerprints on the series.