Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Courtney Cox, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Champion, Josh Segarra, Liana Liberato, Devyn Nekoda, Hayden Panettierre, Tony Revolori, Samara Weaving, Henry Czerny
Runtime: 123 mins. Reviewed in Mar 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
For fans of the Scream franchise, which began in 1996, a sixth episode, with some familiar conventions but also new twists on the killer, Ghost Face, and the terrorising of two sisters.
The fact that we now have Scream VI testifies to the longevity and effectiveness of the franchise. Fans are still devoted and new fans attracted.
Response to the first five films has been varied, from acclamation to disappointment. But disappointment will not be the response to this particular addition. The scenario is well written and the conventions of the franchise all incorporated. The action takes place only a year after what we saw in the previous Scream, incorporating some of the central characters (who survived) and memories of those who did not.
The film sets a tone, tantalisingly, in its opening, focusing on an associate professor of film studies, specialising in horror, waiting in a bar for a friend, who phones, lures her out of the bar into a dark alley (and those in the know are remembering that a previous film did something similar targeting Drew Barrymore). But, this time the slashing Ghost Face is unmasked, and is followed home, checking with his roommate, both students of horror films, only to find that… (The hapless professor is played by Weaving, with her Australian accent.)
And then we move on to the core of the franchise, the two sisters who survived last time, Sam (Barrera) and Tara (Ortega) with their friends Chad and Mindi. Still fearful, Sam is trying to protect her younger sister who wants to be independent. And there are their roommates, Quinn and Ethan.
As might be expected, and what fans hope for, there are various attacks by Ghost Face, that ominous mask with its open mouth, literal jaw drop, the cowl and cloak adding to the sinister presence. But, this time they are helped by the father of Quinn, a detective, played by Mulroney.
There are plenty of scary slashing is (which some audiences might find too much), but the screenplay keeps going, sometimes with some humour, but some tense moments when the sisters have to climb across a horizontal ladder between two tall buildings, when the group travel in the New York subway at Halloween when almost everybody is disguised with masks, several of them sinister Ghost Face.
And, for the old-timers, there is Cox again as Gale Weathers, the sisters resenting her book, but her helping in the investigations, especially finding an extraordinary abandoned cinema which is full of memorabilia from the franchise. And, there is FBI agent Kirby (Panerttiere), from the last film.
One of the factors is the screenplay referencing itself and the franchise as well as horror film conventions, Mindi, something of an expert, elaborating how the sequel should go and what to expect. She does make a point about what Ghost Face should be like this time and, if you have listened carefully, you will not be surprised to find who Ghost Face Is, though you will be to surprised at all the connections with the previous film as well as climaxes in that franchise memorial cinema.
But, having solved everything and tied up loose ends, where could Scream VII go?
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