‘Scream VI’ Builds The Franchise ~ At The Movies With Kasey
In the latest Scream movie, now in theaters, the rebooted cast moves to attend college in New York City. When a new Ghostface killing (in a gripping opening sequence featuring Samara Weaving) hits their neighborhood, Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) brace themselves. Not helping, online “detectives” sparked backlash at Sam, accusing her of setting up the murder spree the previous year. With their new friends and lovers—Danny (Josh Segarra), Ethan (Jack Champion), Quinn (Liana Liberato), and Anika (Devyn Nekoda)—under close watch, and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), and a returning Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) investigating the case, the “Core Four” fight for their lives.
Typing out the synopsis, I realized just how big the ensemble is. With so many characters—returning and new—the stacked roster draws down the suspense. No one seems safe, but at the same time, everyone does because of the abundance of minor players to kill. The movie also fails to deliver Scream’s central conceit of playing with the genre rules. So far, each Scream movie has riffed on some element of slasher films. Scream VI includes vague comments about franchises but does not make a point. The online campaign against Sam and Gale’s comments that she could not sell the movie rights to her book because limited series are the big trend felt like a setup for the movie to comment on true crime, but the writers never follow through. It was a real missed opportunity.
Without Neve Campbell as Sidney (although Jenna Ortega gives off Sid vibes) or David Arquette as Dewey, Gale Weathers carries the nostalgia for the original cast. Fortunately, the writers give Gale excellent quips and Cox always brings energetic sarcasm to the role. Hayden Panettiere’s return as Kirby, now working for the FBI, gave the movie more punch, but even her substantial screen presence could not upstage her wig. It was a weird choice. I could have done entirely without the returning hallucinations of Sam’s father, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), but at least they were pared back.
Scream VI is the weakest chapter of the franchise to date, in my opinion, but still offers a solid slasher thrill by keeping to the basics that make these movies great. Plus, there is an excellent scene on a subway with tons of horror movie references. I wanted this movie to be better than it was, but I will still come back if they make Scream VII. Just pay Neve what she’s worth, guys.
Scream VI was written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet. It runs 122 minutes and is rated R.
Now, for a lightning round of streaming movies. On Hulu, Boston Strangler stars Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon as reporters who battle sexist forces in the newsroom to cover a string of killings in early 1960s Boston. Boston Strangler is a slow burn and more of a story about good journalism than about a serial killer.
Think She Said, not The Silence of the Lambs. The cinematography artfully captures the fear and dreariness of the story, keeping much of the violence obscured. The performances strongly convey the reporters’ frustration, and the story makes a haunting point about dangers that women face at home. Still, Boston Strangler misses a degree of suspense that would have made it a great film.
At least it does not drag as much as We Have a Ghost on Netflix, starring Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Anthony Mackie, Erica Ash, and David Harbour. A horror comedy about a family who moves into a house and discovers it is haunted, this movie attempts to combine touching family stories, slapstick comedy, and an adventure for the kids, but really just made a mess. Somehow, it is two hours long and feels like four. Awful.
Finally, I rented Women Talking, available on various platforms, and will be thinking about it for a long time. Starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Kate Hallett, and Ben Winshaw, the film focuses on the women of a remote religious community deciding to do nothing, fight, or leave after discovering that the men have been subjecting them to secret violence. Sarah Polley’s Oscar win for the screenplay was wholly deserved. Women Talking is at turns tragic, funny, beautiful, and frightening. The wonderful ensemble takes the simplicity of the set and story and draws out all of the emotional complexities for a memorable, breathtaking achievement.
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