Scream VI (2023)

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Running Time: 123 Minutes

Certification: 18

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

Audiences approached 2022s Scream with trepidation, as it would be the litmus test for if this Wes Craven directed slasher series could survive his passing. The result was a bloody good success that approached legacy sequels in witty and tense ways. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett – collectively known as Radio Silence – return for this sequel which brings back the numbered titles, as the series moves to New York.

After an opening which offers a fun twist on the usual formula, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) is left grappling with the previous film's events and worrying about following in the footsteps of her father - serial killer Billy Loomis. While she tries looking after her sister, Tara (Jenna Ortega), things worsen as a new Ghostface stalks the characters with murderous machinations in mind. What unfolds is a film which honours the past while carving a path towards the future, and Ghostface certainly does some carving here.

The most notable element is the lack of Neve Campbell, who didn't return in this film for understandable reasons. While that's an unfortunate way for it to occur, Sidney Prescott not returning is beneficial after previously receiving a good send-off. If anything, one wishes it was also a send-off for Gale Weathers as her inclusion feels superfluous. It's lovely to see Courtney Cox return to the role, although it would've been preferable for her screentime to instead be used for characterization of the newer inclusions, such as Josh Segarra's hot neighbour.

It's wonderful to see the new leads return, as the Core Four are a charming bunch left grappling with trauma in their own ways. Ortega is a gem as the younger sister worrying what her life will now be like as a survivor, sharing wonderful chemistry with Barrera who's left on-edge after the last film's events. Mason Gooding is a joy as kind-hearted himbo Chad, while Jasmin Savoy Brown remains a standout as his cineliterate twin, Mindy. Joining them are engaging figures, such as Dermot Mulroney's detective and fan-favourite character Kirby Reed, wonderfully portrayed by Hayden Panettiere.

While Ghostface has never been a cuddly figure, this iteration feels more aggressive as they dispatch characters in brutal ways. This masked figure delivers grisly work while turning humans into meat, as the impressive set-pieces include a divisive use of a shotgun within a bodega, a tense sequence on the subway, and an impressive use of a ladder.

The whodunnit element works well once more, although it loses steam in the third-act when utilizing monologues to untangle what came before. There's also an element of extreme disbelief as characters brush off stabbings as though they're merely scratches. Regardless, this is another killer instalment in one of the horror genre's strongest franchises.

Scream VI is available in cinemas now