NEW YORK (OSV News) – The dreary horror flick "Scream VI" (Paramount) is the latest entry in a franchise that now looks desperate for ways to rejigger its formula of attractive young actors getting stabbed by its trademark masked killer, Ghostface.
So in this edition, co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick move the mayhem from fictional Woodsboro, California, to New York City. And on a long Halloween weekend at that.
This allows Ghostface -- or whoever is killing people while wearing the Ghostface get-up (think back to your Scooby-Doo days, Baby Boomers) -- to ride the subway in the midst of the many ordinary revelers costumed in the same guise. Thus he blends in, you see.
He also terrorizes a portion of the Upper West Side -- a bodega, and what have you -- always calling ahead on someone's cell phone from an earlier murder. The killings depend on a particularly violent stabbing technique, with gore galore. The victims sometimes wield firearms, but they're ineffectual.
Sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) join up with two other survivors from the 2022 reboot -- simply titled "Scream" -- Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown). Hayden Panettiere returns as Kirby, now an FBI agent, and Courteney Cox reprises her role as journalist Gale.
Sam is convinced she’s being framed, although she is a dab hand with cutlery.
The two "legacy" characters have no guarantee of survival, as Mindy explains during a college film class. One of the tropes of the series is that the characters are always aware they're in a horror movie in which there are certain rules and customs about the order of deaths.
But Mindy says the old rules don't apply anymore. "In a franchise, legacy characters are now expendable," she explains.
Why the filmmakers decided that a lecture on content was necessary is at least as much a mystery as the identity of the slasher. If nothing else, the interlude is a prime example of how unneeded exposition grinds the action to a thudding halt. Though its resumption, in this case, is no treat either.
There is some implied criticism of social media and a discussion of whether Ghostface is hungry for a twisted form of celebrity. Curiously, everyone's phone reception works perfectly in spite of all the blood spatters – although Ghostface particularly cherishes the budget-friendly technique of thumping ominously on doors.
Numerous callbacks in both imagery and dialogue imply that this chapter will be best enjoyed by fans who have taken in all of the preceding five installments. Whoever they may be, heaven help them.
The film contains pervasive bloody violence, including gunplay, some sexual references, occasional profanity and frequent rough language. The OSV News rating is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
- - - Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for OSV News.- - -CAPSULE REVIEW"Scream VI" (Paramount)Dreary horror flick in which the franchise's trademark masked killer -- or someone simply dressed in his guise -- menaces the lives of an array of young actors while also targeting series veterans now regarded as "legacy" characters. The latter include two sisters (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) as well as a duo of other survivors of the 2022 reboot (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown). Co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick move the mayhem from fictional Woodsboro, California, to New York City on a long Halloween weekend. But the gruesomes excesses of earlier outings remain, resulting in gore galore. Pervasive bloody violence, including gunplay, some sexual references, occasional profanity, frequent rough language. The OSV News rating is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.- - -CLASSIFICATION"Scream VI" (Paramount) -- OSV News rating, O -- morally offensive. Motion Picture Association rating, R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.