Friday, March 24, 2023

Guest Post: Scream VI (2023)

Scream VI does the franchise proud.

By Jones Schwartz-Owen



The sixth Scream in the franchise starts off completely as expected: A beautiful woman receives a harassing phone call from a stranger. Only now, the woman is surrounded by fellow New York bar-goers, so she feels safe amongst other revelers as she waits for her date. But writers Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt lead both the character and the audience down a dark, unfamiliar alley. Taking their cue from one of the ultimate giallo film openers, Mario Bava's classic Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve), the writers stun audiences with an opener even more rug-pulling than the two fake-outs in Scream 4. All the rules go completely out the window, and the filmmakers make that clear in the first 10 minutes.


The survivors of the Woodsboro Massacre covered in Scream (2020) move to Manhattan for a fresh start. But Ghostface has followed them with a vengeance. This new Ghostface uses new weapons (the trailer shows the shotgun in the bodega scene) and creates a museum to past crimes to honor those psychopaths who came before. Now Tara (Jenna Ortega), Sam (Melissa Barrera), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) need to out-fox their predator if they expect to survive.


Jason Voorhees may not have had the gumption to actually TAKE MANHATTAN, but the gang from Woodsboro certainly have, finding themselves stalked at Central Park and around the crowded borough. There's something horrifying about a city of millions where everyone suckles to their cell phone, so they don't pay attention to others' danger. Also, unlike in Woodsboro, victims have lost the option to jump out of windows to escape. They're now trapped in high rises. 


Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have raised the ante with more graphic deaths, more twisted surprises, and a gallows humor that was often the late Wes Craven's calling card. Many sequences hark back to earlier films: the items in the museum, the masks, the crowded spaces containing many fake Ghostfaces (but also the real one), the van in plain sight becoming a space of danger, the usage of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand". The directors sprinkle easter eggs galore with punches, popcorn, and even a throwback to an iconic death from an early film.


The cast remains as superb as is the standard throughout the franchise. The central Woodsboro four are captivating characters, and the additions of Samara Weaving, Dermot Mulroney, and Jack Champion fit perfectly into the franchise's style. With the loss of Neve Campbell for this film, and David Arquette for the rest of the franchise, Courtney Cox is the original's touchstone. Though it is annoying that once again Gail backslides at the film's beginning as a muckraker (as she predictably does in each film), once she bares her teeth, she proves that Ghostface is impotent against her. Audiences were hungry for Scream 4 favorite Kirby's return, and Hayden Panettiere does not disappoint. Sly and witty, Panettiere plays one of the best characters invented for the films, and her return is a highlight. 


Ghostface may be a constant in our film future. This latest installment (according to Screen Rant) had the series' highest opening weekend. The caliber of the scripts and performances continue to remain strong, and the stories continue to shock and amaze. With the expectation of Campbell hopefully returning for VII, audiences will be anxiously awaiting news of the next Scream fest. 

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