When I opened my movie showtimes app and saw that Scream VI was playing, I knew. My broadcast partner at Down & Out Reviews, Isaac, claims we had a discussion where we agreed that we would not be watching this one. While this sounds on brand for me, I do not recall the conversation. Since I am getting old, it could also be on brand for my progressing age that I do not remember it. So, maybe I did not “know,” but my imagination told me that Isaac would hear about it and insist on talking about it. I thought going into the weekend that I would be seeing one of the other two choices: 65 or Champions. In case you missed a preview for 65, it is about two humans that crash land on Earth the title number of millions of years ago and have to deal with dinosaurs. That seems like a ridiculous concept to me. As for Champions, it is about a basketball team for people with special needs. That sounds heart-warming on the surface, and who knows, maybe it is? However, it is also presented as a comedy and I was a little worried that it would be at the expense of that population. Thus, I went with brand recognition with Scream VI.
By now, I believe the only reason why Scream VI is made is to satisfy the fans of the series. While this might seem obvious, I bring it up only because if you were to drop a person into the beginning of this film who had never seen any of the previous ones, that person would be confused. I have seen them all and I had a difficult time remembering certain things that I think it wanted me to bear in mind. Anyway, it starts as they all do with a phone call to Professor Laura Crane (Samara Weaving), a film scholar at the fictitious Blackmore University. The person on the other line is Jason Carvey (Tony Revolori), who masquerades as her date but lures her out to the alley and murders her while he is dressed as the Ghostface killer (voiced by Roger L. Jackson). We know it is him because he removes his mask right away. He then goes home and gets his own ring on his cell. He believes it to be his roommate, who he is teaming up with to stalk Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega). They are the sister duo who were the targets in the last film, and are now carrying on the franchise. Now there is a horrifying word, but I digress. Jason dies after seeing his roommate’s body stuffed into his refrigerator. Speaking of those sisters, Sam gets home from a session with her useless therapist, Christopher Stone (Henry Czerny), to find that Tara has gone out on her own to a party. Given all the near brushes with death they endured, Sam is not keen on letting Tara walk about unescorted . . . even though she has her fellow survivor friends, Chad (Mason Gooding) and his sister Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), with her. When they all return home, they see on the television a story about Jason and his roommate’s death, and that it had been the work of a Ghostface killer. Sam demands that they leave town right away, but before they can, their roommate Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato) calls her police officer father, Detective Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), who tells them they must come to the station for questioning. This is because Sam is a person of interest in these murders, partially owing to the fact that her father is the original slasher, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). Their reputations are redeemed for the moment by the appearance of Kirby Reed (Hayden Penettiere), a survivor from Scream Whatever. She is now an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, so that is convenient. Sam and Tara are eventually allowed to leave, but they are (as per usual in these films) met outside by resident investigative reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Despite being one of the original members, a “legacy” character as the movie will literally tell you, Sam and Tara are not pleased to see her. There is something about a book, and the Carpenters not liking how they are portrayed, whatever. At any rate, I think I have introduced all the important players for the moment. I am not going to go into all the gory details because that would be gross and tedious. Just know that every moment the film can chuck a Ghostface jump scare at you, it does so. It all leads to the “core four,” as Chad, Mindy, Sam, and Tara call themselves, with some help from Detective Bailey and Agent Reed, setting a trap for the killer at a Ghostface museum it has made for itself. When they arrive, they are led to believe that the perpetrator is Agent Reed. Turns out that, no, it is Detective Reed, his daughter Quinn (who had faked her death), and her brother. This last one is the innocent appearing Ethan Landry (Jack Champion), who had been using a fake identity. The Baileys are doing this because Sam had killed Detective Bailey’s oldest son, Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid). So, it is revenge or something. In any case, the monologue that they go on to explain all this gives the Carpenter sisters enough time to steal themselves for a fight, and they end up triumphing. It also helps that the police arrive at the behest of a guy that Sam is having adult sleepovers with, Danny Brackett (Josh Segarra). Cut, bloodied, and bruised once more, the sisters walk away from yet another murder scene with a newfound appreciation for each other.
There is a moment in Scream VI that nearly turned one of my many sighs into an audible groan. I did not vocalize it because there was a loud family sitting a couple rows behind me and I did not want to add to the din. As a side note, who brings their little children to a movie like this one?! As for the movie, there is a scene where Mindy is explaining whatever bizarre slasher film rules will govern what is about to happen, which is another eye-rolling moment. I lost track of what she said probably not even halfway through her explanation. There is something about sequels and something called “re-quels,” and I do not know what else. Yet, the one word that stood out was “franchise.” At its mention, everyone gathered around Mindy let out a long-suffering moan. According to her, legacy characters in franchises can die at any time, and she goes on to cite a number of examples. I suppose this is done for tension, and yet it is never paid off because everyone lives. In fact, the only person who dies that is not a killer is Anika Koyoko (Devyn Nekoda), Mindy’s girlfriend. By the same logic that is presented by Mindy, does this mean the movie is trying to tell us that homosexuality is bad? I will tell you what is bad: this movie.
Another tension building device that ultimately goes nowhere in Scream VI is the relationship between Billy and Sam. To be clear, Billy is dead, but Sam sees his image whenever there is a reflection, particularly in the glass case containing her father’s Ghostface costume. Whenever she notices her father’s face, it comes with him egging her on give in to the urge to kill other people like Billy did. This is done, it seems, to make it look like Sam could be the killer. There is also the suggestion at the end when Sam and Tara finish off Detective Bailey, that they could be next in line to wear the Ghostface mantle. I would not have liked it, but it would have been an unpredictable twist if this were to happen. Having written that, I hope that if anyone at the studio stumbles upon this review and reads that last sentence, they do not take it as advice. What I am about to say is complicated by the fact that the Carpenter sisters appear to have enjoyed getting revenge. Still, there is a moment at the end where Sam has one of the masks in her hands and looks down at it wondering if she should go on a killing spree. Then again, she has just killed two people, so there is the complication. The end is the only moment this Catholic appreciated, and not just because it meant the end credits were about to roll. Just because Sam’s father was a psychopath does not mean Sam must be, too. We do not have to give in to the sins of our forebearers. God calls us each by name, and whatever it is that happened in the past should be left behind. That is why I was thankful that she dropped the mask and walked away. At the same time, why even go through the motions of suggesting that she could be a bad egg? It is also pretty evident throughout that she is basically a good person. Thus, any suggestion otherwise is thinly veiled.
If you read my review of Jesus Revolution, you might remember me seeing the homeless person in the shopping center in which is located my usual cinema. That same person was there after Scream VI. Note my reaction: instead of trying to stop again, I drove past and got annoyed with other drivers in the parking lot. I am not trying to draw a direct correlation, but it is interesting that the former leads to feelings of charity, whereas the latter made me angry. That is because there is little of value in a movie like this, despite the gesture at the end. I just pray that this is the last one, though those prayers will likely not be heeded by the studio executives. In the meantime, I am grateful that God got me through another clunker.