Movie Review: 'Scream 6' Should be the Last 'Scream'
It's a not great ending for a terrific horror franchise but Scream 6 leaves nowhere for the franchise to go in any remotely believable fashion.
Scream 6 (2023)
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Written by James Vanderbilt, Gary Busick
Starring Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Courtney Cox, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding
Release Date March 10th, 2023
Published March 9th, 2023
After having seen Scream 6 I can now confirm that there are only two possible truths in this franchise. One possible truth is that no one in Scream has any vital organs. Or, second possible truth, Knives are capable of malfunctioning. It has to be one or the other. There are no other rational explanations as to how human beings can survive so many, many stab wounds. Characters in Scream movies now are basically a series of blood balloons tied together to form human beings. No vital organs, just places where they can be stabbed and partially deflate. That's it.
Stabbing someone in movies used to be far more effective than it is today. In Psycho you did not see Marion Crane getting up and sharing witty banter with anyone after being stabbed repeatedly by Mrs. Bates. Heck, even in the original, 1996 Scream movie, Drew Barrymore died in the opening minutes from a number of stab wounds. Granted, it was the first indication of the growing overall ineffectiveness of knives in horror movies, but she did die from her wounds, eventually.
I'm being petty. It's just a matter that I have been able to suspend disbelief over in previous entries in the Scream franchise. Scream 1,2,4, and 5, feature such good scares and such great characters that the implausibility melted into the background. Writer Kevin Williamson, aided by the skilled direction of horror veteran Wes Craven, was able to distract us with wit and charm while Craven's camera blocking and old school approach to building suspense, carried us over the harder to believe ideas about how many times Sidney Prescott was going to survive a serial murderer.
Now however, without the wit and with greatly lesser characters and direction, the seams of the franchise are beginning to wear away. There are only so many times that Ghostface can be knocked on the head and walk away. There are only so many times we can see someone have most of their vital organs punctured and live that such a thing remains effective. With Scream 6, for me, the franchise has pushed beyond my ability and willingness to suspend disbelief. With nothing to elevate the movie above the horror tropes, we're left with a downright comical number of stab wounds that people manage to survive.
Picking up the story from Scream 5, the Carpenter sisters, Samantha (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega), survivors of the most recent massacre in Woodsboro, are now living in New York City. Tara is attending college, along with old friends Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and her fraternal twin brother, Chad (Mason Gooding). And, of course, they've picked up strays including new roommate Quinn (Liana Liberato), and Chad's new roommate Ethan (Jack Champion). Samantha has also picked up a secret boyfriend, a neighbor named Danny (Josh Segarra), who, naturally, will become an immediate suspect when Ghostface returns.
Indeed, Ghostface is back as a pair of film students appear to be trying to finish the story that Randy Kirsch (Jack Quaid) and Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) tried to tell in Scream 5. That story centered on Sam being the big bad due to her history as the illegitimate daughter of original Scream killer, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). These dorks want to finish Randy and Amber's movie by killing the Carpenter sisters and framing them for all of the murders from Woodsboro to New York City. Before they can accomplish that however, they too are killed and a new story of revenge begins to unfold.
If you saw Scream 5 then you might be wondering how anyone knows about Randy Kirsch's scheme to frame Sam Carpenter as a way of furthering the movie within the movie franchise, Stab. Scream 5 ended with our survivors vowing not to let this story go any further. Then, apparently, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), a Scream legend, became a very dumb character offscreen and wrote the book she promised not to write. That book revealed Randy's motive and, by extension, created a myth surrounding Samantha, one she cannot shake regarding her overall mental stability and the influence of her legendary serial killer daddy.
My girl Gale Weathers gets done dirty in Scream 6. Not only are we asked to believe that Gale would be craven enough to go back on her word and write a book that creates a false narrative about the new killings, we're also asked to believe that she would be caught unprepared by a new Ghostface attack. No spoilers on whether or not Gale survives, I will only tell you that Gale ends up being attacked in her home and it simply feels false. The idea that Gale would not be ready for a Ghostface attack at this point in her life and in this franchise just seems silly to me and is a disservice to this usually brilliant character.
I don't know what happened between Scream 5 and Scream 6 but the chemistry that I loved between Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega in Scream 5 now feels false in Scream 6. Barrera's Sam seems to have lost all of the character growth she'd garnered from Scream 5. She has none of the confidence or skill she demonstrated at the end of 5 and, like Gale, she's way too unprepared for what comes for her and her friends in Scream 6. Everything that happens in Scream 6 feels like it compromises what happened in Scream 5.
That's a real shame because Scream 5 is a terrific movie. That film had style, great camera blocking, strong suspense and characters that grew and became more likable and competent as the movie went on. Asking us to believe what we are asked to believe about them in Scream 6, we have to accept that these characters have somehow gone backwards and grown more naïve and wildly complacent. It's a major step back for these characters and combined with growing inability of knives to kill anyone, it makes Scream 6 a bit of a chore to try and enjoy.
I really hope this is the last Scream movie, though I am somehow sure that it won't be. It's not the best ending for these characters, especially our O.G characters, but ending it here would, at the very least, close the story before it grows impossible to believe. These characters already have been established as having no vital organs. Next we will be asked to believe they could survive a complete beheading or perhaps being burned to ash. If the franchise keeps going these characters will have to become indestructible zombies capable of restoring torn body parts and slapping them back together.
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About the Creator
Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast. I am a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.
Hey, Your first paragraph about the blood balloons made me laugh! 😁I saw it last night and enjoyed it for what it was. Thanks for sharing your review.