Ghostface takes Manhattan


The Scream franchise is back with its sixth installment and the second entry under new management. The surviving members of part 5 are now in New York City and everything is different, except of course the peace and quiet they so desperately want, as Ghostface seems to have followed them.

To be honest, the absolute best way to recommend this movie, or not, is to simply say that how you felt about part 5 is exactly how you will feel about this one. This does very little to actually differentiate itself in tone and story, so if you loved 5, you will love this. If you hated 5, or any conclusion you came to it that rests between love and hate, that will be where you land on this one.

The only thing that I found more beneficial this time is that I was ready for the darker and more standardized tone. Under Wes Craven, the Scream films had something so magical to them. Something that made the series stand out from all other franchises- this blend of sunniness, bright costumes and design, mixed with a clever metaness and an ultra-violence that seemed to counter its dressing and setting. Now the franchise just sorta has a dark moody homogenous tone that is completely ubiquitous in horror.

But the natural defense is that this is just directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s style and no one wants them copying Craven’s style. They should have their own voice. And in practice, I totally agree with that. If they have a different voice, they shouldn’t try to replicate someone else’s, even if it is at the expense of the franchise. Which creates a dichotomy I don’t know the answer to. Do an impression, or freely let your voice shine? Even if your voice feels like everyone else’s? This is the moment I raise my hand and feebly respond, full of fear…maybe just don’t make these movies and let them be. To which then the overlords of IP comes down and smiten me with shame for even suggesting that in the year of 2023 of the lord that we dare make a non-sequel.

The thing about these movies is they are technically not bad. Everything, from the kills to the gnarly set pieces to the required state-of-horror chitchat is delivered serviceably, proficiently and on schedule. This movie read the syllabus, checked the boxes and technically gets a passing grade.

Yet my reactions to it these last two are somewhere between not passionate at all to somewhat suspicious. These feel like a combination of the two current trends I hate the most – IP lust and toxic positivity.  All of the state of horror jabbering, which of course feels nowhere nearly as fresh as it did in 1996 when the franchise started, feels much less self-reflective and much more self-defensive.

The last two entries feel like they have built-in defenses to them, since they are commenting on toxic fandom. If you don’t like these movies, well surely you are just triggered by them and you’re some sort of reddit nationalist. Positive people like these and only toxic negativaroos, like the killers in part 5, dare speak a bad word. Yet with one hand, they are preeminently condemning their critics while with the other, giving everyone what they want as safely as humanly possible. These movies so think they are the Rian Johnson of Scream that they reference Rian Johnson in part 5. And yet, in their second film, when they had a chance to give you The Last Jedi, they serve up the fan service of The Rise of Skywalker but have the audacity to think it’s The Last Jedi.

But yet, to bring it back to the film, because people reading may just simply want to know if it’s worth watching. Is it good? Is it well-made? The answer to that is a loud and resounding SURE! This movie is technically well-done. And if you feel like someone taking one of the most inventive franchises in our lifetime and turning it into “technically done well” is your thing, then you are in for a treat.