The 'Scream' franchise continues, switching to Roman numerals, using its general formula. One by one, we've now done "horror movie", "horror sequel", "horror trilogy", "horror reboot" and "horror requel". What's left, you ask? Well, what else but a "horror franchise"? And though it sounds like I'm sort of rolling my eyes at the concept of yet another 'Scream' movie, following its old formula, I have to admit that I actually really enjoyed this! Time will tell if my opinion fades a bit over time like it did with 'Scream 4', but so far, I'd say this is one of the best.
Our four survivors from the last film, Sam and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, respectively) along with the Meeks-Martin twins, Chad and Mindy (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown, respectively) have moved to New York City for a new start. Tara attends University with the twins, and newcomers Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato), Mindy's Girlfriend Anika Kayoko (Devyn Nekoda) and Chad's roommate, Ethan Landry (Jack Champion). Meanwhile, Sam attends regular therapy sessions after what happened in the last film, which involves a certain dark side to Sam.
The events at the end of 'Scream' ('22) have also launched a lot of online conspiracy against Sam, claiming her to be the mastermind behind the latest Woodsboro murders. I kind of have to admire how they threw in the concept of misinformation online and how it might just affect some real victims out there. Anyway, a killer wearing a Ghostface mask does his thing in the beginning as usual, leading to a media circus as usual, and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) shows up again as usual. Meanwhile, Detective Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) calls Sam in for questioning, since her ID happened to be found on the scene, along with the mask from the last year's attacks.
Of course, it's not long before things start happening all over again; this time in the middle of the big city. But while Sam is a little more alert and smart about things, wanting to escape while the escaping is good, Tara is a little more insistent that she can take care of herself and doesn't want to throw away her education based on a few days of their lives. So there's some rivalry here, but it's also a good way of showing us different personalities coping with such an intense situation. Once again, the film throws in more than a couple of red herrings for us as well, but I have to admit that this time they were a little easier for me to call.
Added to the cast here, among others, is the return of Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), who we last saw in 'Scream 4' as a high school student. She has since done pretty well for herself, too, as she has become an FBI agent, specializing in Ghostface attacks... so where she was for the last film, who knows? We also have some dude Sam is seeing named Danny Brackett (they always do good with nods to horror names in these movies- this one from 'Halloween') who plays the regular love interest the lead doesn't know whether or not to trust. However, for the first time, Sidney Prescott does not return to the franchise, thus ultimately passing the torch to Sam and Tara.
I hazard a guess that a lot of the film took inspiration from the 'Friday the 13th' franchise. This includes the number in the sequel name changing from numeric to Roman, and bringing things to the big city of Manhattan (except this time the movie actually fully took place in Manhattan). I also had to appreciate the brutality of the kills here which caught me off guard. When the movie opens, it does a good job at capturing the viewer's interest, and it involves one of these horrible kills. That sounds bad to the average viewer, but for a horror fan seeing the sixth installment of something, we need the volume turned up a bit. Remember, we're here to face and live out our greatest fears in the safety of a movie theater, or our own home.
As usual, I'll break down the rules, this time of a franchise; 1 - Everything is bigger than last time, including budget, cast, and body count; 2 - Expect the opposite of what happened last time; 3 - No one is safe, including "legacy" characters; and 4 - Main characters become expendable so the franchise can continue... which could basically just be the same as rule #3, but I didn't write the script. This is where I can point out that some things are feeling repetitive with this "rules" thing. Otherwise, I see this in almost the same way I saw 'Scream 2'. It's almost more of a comedy than a horror, as it seems to embrace itself as being exactly what it's farcing. Again, 'Friday the 13th Part VI' did exactly the same kind of thing (farcing itself), and with that idea in mind, I can't help but see this as the fun horror ride it's supposed to be.