Scream VI Review: A Brutal Game Changer For The Beloved Franchise

While 2022’s Scream delivered classic beats, Scream VI is truly playing with new rules.

Ghostface in Scream VI
(Image: © Paramount Pictures)

The last few years have been an interesting time for movies, as the film industry has attempted to get back to "normal" after the pandemic-related shutdowns. While some titles have struggled to make the same box office numbers, horror has had a recent renaissance, and after the 2023 calendar year started off with a bang for the genre thanks to M3GAN, one of the most beloved franchises of all time is returning with Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's Scream VI. While here are high expectations, this new slasher meets or exceeds all of them. 

Scream VI

Ghostface in Scream VI

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Release Date: March 10, 2023
Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Written By: James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Dermot Mulroney, Hayden Panettiere, and Courteney Cox
Rating: R, for strong bloody violence and language throughout, and brief drug use
Runtime: 123 minutes

There hasn't been a bad Scream movie released. Even Scream 3, which leans in on camp elements, is a classic. And as such, the stakes are high ahead of the release of Scream VI. Given the new setting of New York City and the lack of Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott, there have been some naysayers out there. Luckily these concerns have proven for naught, as the sixth movie is a delightful ride that should please fans new and old.

The same team at Radio Silence is back behind the camera for Scream VI, and while the last time they directed a movie that felt like a classic Scream flick, the story this time around is far more original. The marketing has highlighted that Ghostface is operating with new rules, and that's true for the movie as a whole.

Neve Campbell is missing, but Scream VI's story is far more emotional.

Scream VI focuses largely on the two sets of surviving siblings who made their debut in the 2022 sequel. This includes new protagonist Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), as well as Mindy and Chad Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding) – who are Randy Meeks' niece and nephew. That quartet moves from Woodsboro to New York City to start a new life, but are brought back into violence and pain when a new Ghostface killer pops up in the Big Apple. Courteney Cox is also back as Gale Weathers, and Scream 4's Hayden Panettiere finally returns as Kirby Reed, who is now an FBI agent. 

Fans were disappointed to learn that Scream VI would be the first installment without Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, seemingly putting the franchise as a whole in jeopardy. But surprisingly, her absence isn't all that painful in this new sequel; after all, she had fairly limited screen time last time. What's more, it's somewhat comforting to know that Sidney is safe this time around.

Neve Campbell's absence also allows for the story to focus far more on the new characters – specifically the relationship between Sam and Tara, who were largely kept away from each other in the last movie. Their sisterly bond is the heart of the story, adding emotional stakes to the chase sequences with Ghostface. Indeed, each kill of Scream VI moves the story forward, and has an emotional effect on what happens next.

The violence and chases are brutal in Scream VI.

Since it's a Scream movie, there's plenty of violence and stab wounds in Radio Silence's sixth chapter. While the Ghostface sequences in the 2022 sequel were great, Scream VI's chase sequences are far longer and more terrifying. The masked killer is really especially brutal this time around, and doesn't have any pratfalls or moments of comedy.

The Scream movies usually end up super bloody, especially in the final battle in Act Three. The sixth movie continues this trend, but the sheer amount of physical stabs is startling. Ghostface is truly making pincushions out of his victims, which adds to the terrifying nature of each kill.

Speaking of the kills, Scream VI truly goes HAM on the way that characters are dispatched by Ghostface. While obviously there are plenty of stabbings, there are some really original and memorable deaths throughout the movie's 123-minute runtime. This is just one way that the project feels super fresh, despite it being the sixth installment of the slasher franchise. 

Scream VI has more twists than any of the other movies in the franchise.

Aside from their signature mixture of comedy and horror and the metatheatrical nature of the scripts, Scream movies are also known for their wild twists. Since Wes Craven's 1996 original, part of the fun of watching a Scream flick is trying to figure out the identity of the killer(s). The sixth installment knows this all too well, and is jam packed with red herrings and plot twits that'll keep you guessing until its final moments.

One delightful way the meta part of Scream VI functions is if through addressing fan theories about the movie. Whether its through a passing line or a legitimate plot point, it's clear that the directors and writers have heard the chatter online. Perhaps it's for this reason that the new slasher is able to toy with the audience so effectively. They know what we're thinking, and what (false) conclusions we might draw as a result of this passion.

The thrilling twists start as early as the opening kill sequence, and continue until Ghostface's identity is finally revealed. Add in the terrifying scare sequences, and the result is a thrilling unrelenting, moviegoers experience. Overall, Scream VI is a sharp and chilling new twist on the franchise, full of genius-level surprises. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.