The Movie Waffler New to VOD - SCREAM VI | The Movie Waffler


New York becomes the latest killing ground for Ghostface.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere, Courtney Cox, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving

Scream VI poster

Despite being a big fan of slasher movies, I've never been able to get on board with the Scream franchise. It's chiefly because I've never liked the whodunit format. Give me the Columbo format of revealing the killer in the opening scene and I'm happy, as it allows me, and the rest of the audience, to know exactly when characters are in danger, and who from. As Hitchcock put it, if a bomb goes off it might shock the audience but if you show the bomb counting down to its detonation you can mine suspense and keep the audience on the edge of their seats for as long as you want. The Scream series has always been about bombs exploding; we never get to enjoy the countdown.

That's why I became momentarily excited by the opening of Scream VI (after the fifth movie, annoyingly titled Scream, I guess we're back to numbered sequels), in which the identity of the latest Ghostface is revealed to the audience roughly five minutes in. Finally, a Scream movie I might be able to get behind. I began thinking about how great it would be to watch the characters go through the usual motions of debating whom the killer might be, when we the audience can see they're standing right there among them!!! Sadly, it's a fake-out, as this Ghostface is immediately dispatched by another masked killer, whose identity is as always, kept secret until the Scooby-Doo-esque climax.

Scream VI review

It's a sign of how forgettable Scream was (the fifth one, not the first one - man, that's annoying!) that it was released just a year ago and yet I couldn't remember a damn thing about its survivors, who return for this quickly turned around sequel (as Halloween V infamously demonstrated, a year is too short to turn around a satisfying slasher sequel). I recall Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera having a weirdo energy that the movie never really tapped into, despite them playing Tara and Sam, the daughters of Skeet Ulrich's killer from the first movie. But I can't remember a thing about Cuba Gooding's kid or the few other random skinjobs that made up the cast. Scream VI however acts under the misapprehension that we all fell in love with this bunch. I'm not lying when I say I literally spent half of this movie trying to remember if Dermot Mulroney, who plays police detective Bailey, was in the last movie. Turns out he wasn't, but the way Tara and Sam seem so chummy with him is really confusing. Look, I'm not suggesting you should rewatch Scream (the fifth one, not the first one - aaarrrggghhh!!!), I'm not even suggesting you watch this one, but you might want to visit Wikipedia to refresh your memory, or perhaps your trauma might be more apt.

As with Scream 2, this one sees our surviving heroine now at college. In New York City no less. Ah, so we'll be getting nods to the golden age of late '70s/early '80s scuzzy Big Apple slashers? Perhaps a few banging disco tunes on the soundtrack? Eh no, the only thing Scream VI has in common with classic NYC slashers is that it's clearly shot in Canada. Well, I guess Tony Revolori's haircut and beard does make him look a little like Joe Spinell in Maniac.

Scream VI review

Anyhow, Ghostface is back and out to kill the Carpenter sisters. An amusing aspect of this franchise is how it's filled with characters who are obsessed with horror movies yet nobody mentions how coincidental it is that they all share their surnames with icons of the genre. Courtney Cox is back as sneaky reporter Gale Weathers, as is Hayden Panettiere as fan favourite Kirby Reed from the fourth instalment (my pick of the fallow bunch). Reed is an FBI agent now and at one point Weathers remarks that she looks too young for such a job, calling her "a child," despite Panettiere now resembling a 40-year-old Fox News host. There's also a character who looks like a 45-year-old hitman for the Armenian mob whom all the girls hilariously refer to as a "cute boy."

Where was I? I don't know. It's only been a couple of hours since I watched Scream VI and it's already beginning to disappear from my memory banks. People get stabbed, including pre-credit victim Samara Weaving, who steals the show as an adorably dorky film studies professor, making her absence badly felt for the rest of the movie. The killings are a little more sadistic here, but none of them are remotely inventive. Knife go in, knife come out, knife go back in. That's yer lot.

Scream VI review

It all leads to the usual climax where the killer tells us their motivation while we count the number of plot holes such a revelation has now exposed. The killer reveal in this one somehow manages to be both blindingly obvious and nonsensical. There's only one character who could have done THAT, but there's no way they could have done THAT. The movie also does something that the series has already done several times, yet presents it as some sort of "You didn't see that coming!" moment. Err, yeah, we did, because Scream movies always do this.

The highlight of the movie is watching Mulroney morph into Sean Penn over the course of 90 minutes, and the end credits whose font appears to pay tribute to the classic "You wouldn't steal a car..." anti-piracy ads of the turn of the century. After ducking blades through the series, Neve Campbell has dodged a bullet by sitting this one out.

Scream VI is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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