‘Who gives a f*** about the movies?’is the cheeky opening gambit of the traditional Ghostface killa in the latest in the Scream franchise; that’s been a reasonable question of late, but like Creed III, this is a treading water sequel that heads off for fresh pastures due to series mainstay Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) being written out due to inability to agree a financially lucrative contract. Thus, affordable option and legacy character Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) appears here to tell us that Sidney is hiding out somewhere beyond the scope of Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin’s film, keeping the powder dry for a potential return while clearing the field for the new generation of young people featured in the fifth Scream story to take centre stage.
So back to a world where most of the characters have names based on the late Hitchcock-era, starting with film professor Laura Crane (Samara Weaving); we’ve moved from the small California town of Woodsbro to Manhattan, where Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and her half-sister Tara (Jenny Ortega) are hoping to put the Billy Loomis killings behind them, but, as is correctly pointed out, ‘It’s a big city, it’s Halloween, and everybody’s wearing masks…’ making it east for whoever is donning the Ghostface mask to hunt them and the remaining survivors down in the usual cathartic display of graphic violence and in-jokes for those who pore over the detail of horror.
‘There are certain rules of the franchise …they only survive by subverting expectations…’ is part of our usual pep talk about the rules that the writers feel they’re playing with, and Scream VI does have some fresh angles to peddle. If Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan didn’t do much with it’s New York City setting, Scream VI doesn’t make the same mistake; it’s a big, glossy, fancy-dan production. The opening scene puts a twist on the iconic Drew Barrymore opener with an inverted ‘tormenting the tormentor’ angle, and it makes sense to shuffle off the oldies and return to a world of frat parties and c**kblocking room-mates. New readers can start here, since we get Coles Notes to Sam’s backstory in a therapy exposition dump early on, but returning audience will find roughly the same mixture of smarty-pants snark and gore as before.
Scream IV’s attempted reboot still stands as the only failure in the franchise to date, but Scream VI doesn’t so much reinvent the narrative as cobble it together for another go round, just like any other sequel. What’s improved here, enough to draw a crowd, is enhanced action (an early fight in a bodega is impressively physical) while cine-literate; one character is dismissed with the line ‘obsessed with Argento’ without much more needing to be said. You could make a Scream film every year and catch a new generation of teenagers keen to test themselves on the sharp edges; it’s a rite of passage for American youth, and the rest of us by proxy, and Scream VI’s commercially-forced recalculations are just enough to make another go-round palatable for passing rubberneckers.
Surprised you didn’t give a nod to one of the stars being from Scotland.
Neve, as you know, is from Guelph.
Surprised you didn’t hear about it. Was in all the local papers. Got the roman numerals wrong in the lede, alas.
Different Scotland, no?
Saw Neve in my local bookstore, she’s from around here…
There’s another Scotland?
I didn’t think you frequented bookstores . . .
If they have a dvd section, yes.
Can you be more specific about which Scotland?
I’ve seen a few of these, but I don’t think all of them. The original Scream was great, and I don’t like horror films. I saw it more as a paradoy.
If it’s between this and Cocaine Bear, which do I choose?
Cocaine Bear every time. I didn’t think too much of the previous film, didn’t even bother to write it up, but I guess they got what they wanted; to introduce a new set of characters, and this film is substantially better than might be expected. But…Cocaine Bear!
That’s what I thought you were going to say!
Predicable as a tree.
“If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”
I get your Barbara Walters/ Police Squad reference! If I was Kat Hepburn, I’d say ‘“I hope I’m not an elm with Dutch elm disease, because then I’m withering. Everybody would like to be an oak tree. That’s very strong, very pretty.”
Nice nice nice! I can never stump you!
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Loved all the movie references and the way it kept to the frame of the original idea. A fresh take without being bogged down by annoying legacy characters and I didn’t see the ending coming. Fresh look, too, at the Final Girl. A goodly amount of action although judging by the number of times GF got badly whacked you’d have thought someone would have the sense to hit him again and again when he was down. And the best picture in my Monday triple bill. “65” was a dud. Whatever possessed Adam Driver to pick this? And “Pearl” was not so much slow-burn as heading straight into lethargy. Please don’t let an actor get any way involved in a script again – this must have been a 10-minute monologue at the end that added not a thing to the story.
Far better than the previous installment, which wasn’t awful either. But there’s a different energy about our Ghost faced killer. Will skip 65 for now and Pearl was barely in my radar. I look forward to a full report.
Unless a hardcore Driver fan best skipping 65 altogether.
Before seeing this I’d only seen the first film and the netflix series but I still thought this was pretty good.
I’ve not seem them all, but this was a step up from the previous one for sure…
Not sure if this will make the Monday cut.
It’s better than you might expect, but not one to write home about.
As long as the customers keep coming, I suppose.
Proud to say I’ve not seen a single one of these cropulent offerings.
Just say crope to smug, violent stuff like this.
I always do.
Is the correct answer. Gerry Butler in Plane next week!
Good. Something to look forward to at last.
Yeah Ghostface, you tell’em!
Is Scream a real horror franchise or a parody one? I watched a parody or two and now I simply can’t tell anymore what’s what.
It’s both. It’s pretty nasty at times, but there’s unmistakable black humour all the way through. But it’s a bit smug and not quite as clever as the makers think…
So probably not the one I saw originally then. That’s ok. I just don’t do visual horror….
What kind do you do?
I prefer my horror to be in books, and of the cosmic variety. Screen/visual sticks in my mind like little horror maggots…
I think you might have seen Scary Movie or a sequel, which are outright parody…
That must be it. Because it was funny without me even knowing what movies they were making fun of.
Do they make any Ghostface Takes Manhattan jokes?
I guess he’s officially Jason now. I don’t know. The last one wasn’t bad with what they had to work with, and I appreciate their efforts to keep it fresh by moving to NYC, but geez it feels played out. Maybe they’ll stick him in a time machine and send him back to fight Jack the Ripper in the next one.
I don’t know if “powerer dry” is a typo or if powerer is some sort of snack food in the Glasgow environs, like atomic-red Whatsits.
Fixed typo, thanks! The idea of multiple serial masked killer in Manhattan has got more legs here than it did in that Jason movie where they were all on a ship anyway…
2023 = Ghostface Vs M3gan, with Cocaine Bear waiting to play the winner…
The safe money is on Cocaine Bear. Even if it loses, you can still sell the bag of coke and make a bundle!
Cocaine Bear wins every time…
Now, who would you bet on if it was The C-Bear vs Psychic Grandma?
Personally, I’d have to ponder the odds before coming to a decision…
You’d need to be able to see into the future…
i’m still working on that. So far the chinese fortune cookies have a better track record than me…