Scream VI18¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
When the original Scream was released in 1996, it proved that maybe there was room for one more in cinema’s fairly elite killer club, with alumni including Leatherface, Freddy Kruger and Michael Myers.
Since then, Ghostface has cemented his membership, especially with the release of this sixth instalment. But it does raise the question – does he deserve to be there?
In an attempt to distance themselves from their horrific past, sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) have moved away from Woodsboro to the bright lights of NYC. They hope to start afresh, alongside fellow survivors Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy-Brown), and put their confrontations with Ghostface behind them.
But despite living in a big city, it’s difficult to escape their past, and more to the point Ghostface, who appears to enjoy his move to the city, and continue his killing spree. This is, of course, not great news for the sisters, as you can be sure that Ghostface has them on his list of unfinished business to attend to.
With the original having none other than Wes Craven directing, and a truly original script by Kevin Williamson, Ghostface’s debut was an impressive one.
But despite still being self-reverential and cutely meta, the franchise has become less of a shockfest, with this latest coming across more as a parody than anything else.
It has its moments – few and far between, sure, but they’re still in there – where its deliciously gory. The knowing dialogue, especially from the entertaining Meeks-Martin, with the tongue-in-cheek critical appraisal of the on-going ‘Stab’ franchise still great fun, but the skeleton of the story is borderline embarrassing. So much so that you could just imagine the passengers of the Mystery Machine shaking their heads, with Scooby with his furry head in his paws in embarrassment. To the point where, when masks are removed, you half expect the line “and we would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!”. And although Williamson is still on board as an exec producer, it doesn’t feel as if he had much input into the script structure as a whole, as its underwhelmingly flimsy.
It could be said that in true Scream fashion, it’s only following the logical path of all these horror franchises, with every iteration a poorer version than the previous. And yes, that’s even with the legacy characters included, that really are only there to satisfy certain ‘rules’ the scripts sets up, and adding nothing further than that.
And although much was made of the new locale – a whole city to terrorise – directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who also directed the last film), have played it safe, hardly utilising this new playground at all, except for a fairly generic subway section. Take out those sequences and the film could literally be set anywhere, with the new locale paying no real part whatsoever.
The truth is, the franchise is no longer as sharp as it used to be. It may well solidify Ghostface as a horror icon, but at the same time, it’s literally lost the plot.
There’s one telling point that’s missing from the often referred to rules of horror within the films - and it’s probably with good reason as the franchise is still a lucrative one for all concerned – but it might be the toughest of them all: knowing when to quit. And after this disappointing effort, it feels that time is most definitely now. But as we know, that hasn’t stopped a franchise before, so you can guarantee Ghostface will be back, with that mask conveniently hiding the shame of it all.