‘Scream VI’ punches the idea of ​​horror movie franchises in the face – Rolling Stone

Say what you want about Scream, The 2022 reboot of everyone’s favorite ’90s/’00s meta-slasher – it completely understood the pop-culture sphere it entered and commented on, ie. the era of endless nostalgia renewals and “requels”. The original cycle was about making horror movies that gambled on how much we, the viewers, knew about the rules of classic horror movies; any attempt to pump fresh blood into intellectual property had to inherently grow a very different world in terms of shared cinematic universes, movie Twitter discourse, easter eggs, etc. Fortunately, these catch-22 concerns opened up as if they were so many horny teenage skulls at Camp Crystal Lake turned out to be even more branded than we’d thought. After all, this was a franchise that was hip to toxic fandom way, way in front of the curve.

And yet… as anyone fluent in multi-film franchises will tell you, even when they’ve fine-tuned genre tropes and established new beginnings from old endings, the most skilled IP saviors still risk wearing out their welcome . Scream WE – Oh, so we rock Roman numerals now we are? — building on the have-your-cake-and-eat-it too good will from last year’s reset. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are back; ditto screenwriters Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt. Melissa Barrera once again fills the “final girl” position as Sam Carpenter, and now super famous Jenna Ortega returns as her equally traumatized sister, Tara. Familiar new faces, in the form of Mason Gooding and the invaluable Jasmin Savoy Brown as Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin, take the sidelines to welcome older faces – Courtney Cox’s Gayle Weathers, of course, but also Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby Reed (!) from Scream 4 — and Ghostfaces.

Instead of Woodsboro, California, Carpenters & co. is now in New York City, where Tara is going to Blackmore University and is apparently majoring in alleviating her psychological pain. As for Sam, she is the target of online conspiracy theories suggesting that she staged all these murders and lives up to her lineage as a Loomis. (Her father was Billy Loomis, aka the man who committed all those murders back in the 90s, which inspired Daggers movie.) But the fact that they’ve moved to the East Coast, along with the Meeks-Martin siblings, doesn’t stop a series of murders from happening in their vicinity. And guess what kind of mask the killer, or maybe killers, is wearing? Sixth verse, same as the first.

You don’t have to be a die-hard fan to get a chill when—during a fake-out prologue involving a film studies professor, a blind date, and what unexpectedly turns out to be a triple murder—Roger L. Jackson’s voice first asks the eternal question: “What is yours favorite scary movie?” through someone’s phone. The sinister baritone is firmly enshrined in the Horror Sonics Hall of Fame, right next door Friday the 13th‘s tch-tch-tch-haw-haw-haw, Godzilla’s roar and every John Carpenter score ever. But you may need to be a real one Scream stan to get excited about the constant internal callbacks the movie keeps throwing at you, whether it’s in the name of getting reactions from hardcore fans or lovingly mocking the fact that the series is now old enough to justify his own deep haircut inside jokes. And there’s a legitimate concern that the characters’ ribs might be so sore from endlessly pushing against each other that they won’t feel a Ghostface-winged serrated blade sliding into them. (Spoiler: Don’t worry, several of them do.)

It is exactly the same balance that Bettinelli-Olpin, Gillett et al. did with Scream ’22, except they’ve already played their cards in terms of what they’re going for besides old-school jump scares. Jasmin Savoy Brown’s speech about getting caught up in a genre sequel was a showcase that doubled as an eloquent state-of-the-genre film nation, or perhaps the other way around. This time when the bodies start piling up and the breadcrumb trails lead back to each past Scream entrance, she adds a new thesis: They are now trapped in a franchise. Which means everyone is a suspect, everyone is now useless no matter how loved you are, and it’s less about the names above the title and all about the title. Just forget about going for cheap nostalgia bait – this post-brand revival chapter wants to punch the whole concept of endless horror movie franchises and cheap fan-milking right in the face.


Ghostface, your favorite franchise psycho killer, in ‘Scream VI.’

Philippe Bosse

That sounds like a level up in terms of goals, right? Except the movie doesn’t say anything new about any of this, and since it’s been a little over a year Scream expertly cut Mary Sue Nation, the overly protective hives of fandom, and the company’s exploitation of easily recognizable scary movie canon fodder, this wink-wink treatise is less death knell and more déjà vu. All that’s left are what-can-we-do-in-New York sets (there’s a good cat-and-mouse sequence between Ghostface and the Carpenters in a bodega, and an even better stalking scene in a crowded subway) and reveals which strains credulity even for one Scream movie. Which is certainly saying something.

At one point, Cox’s tabloid-journalist-superstar discovers a hidden warehouse where the killer(s) have built some sort of Daggers series sanctuary. There’s the knife that nearly destroyed Panettiere’s fan favorite — who’s now an FBI agent! Go, Kirby! – and there are sketches of the original recipe Scream victims, and over there are cases containing all the old Ghostface masks and capes. All of these artifacts make the place a mixture of museum and murderous headquarters, and without giving too much away, this is a key location to the film’s climax. But it’s also a neat little analogy Scream VI itself. This sequel-to-requel has all the trappings of the series you know and love, arranged everything for us to admire, and not know what to do with any of it until you put it under glass or smash a few posing with worn props. For some people, that plus some jump scares is enough. But the sixth time isn’t the charm here. And it’s certainly far less fun and clever than it thinks it is.

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