In recent months, years even, the horror genre has continued to thrive and evolve, with space in the vast pantheon of options available to audiences for countless different offerings, allowing many filmmakers to tell thought-provoking films through the spectrum of some good old scares. A constant through the last almost three decades has been old Ghostface and his/her rampaging through Woodsboro as they took down not just their on-screen victims but the inner workings of the genre with gleeful abandon. Now “requelled” thanks to 2021’s monster hit, it’s only fitting that it gets its sequels but this time, all bets are truly off.
Set a year after the events of Scream V, sisters Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Sam (Melissa Barrera) have left Woodsboro behind and moved to the Big Apple with fellow survivors Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) in the hopes of escaping their past and moving forward. It isn’t long, however, until a series of brutal murders sweeps through the city that is seemingly inspired by the Ghostface killings, Stab, and everything in between. Is someone trying to make another sequel to the requel to the sequels? Or are they trying to break the rules and rip the franchise apart limb from limb in another metatextual way?
Radio Silence – aka Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin – had made their mark on the genre already in a short space of time before Scream V, primarily with their witty, lavish, gory, and biting rollercoaster Ready Or Not, easily one of the decade’s horror/comedy gems (fans of that film will see a few nuggets here, not just Samara Weaving) so you can see the appeal of stepping into the world of Woodsboro first time around. Continuing to pierce the tropes of the genre with pithy, biting wit and self-awareness about sequels, the monopolies of franchises, and more, it even twists the knife back on itself to take swipes at its own fatigue, a timely debate amongst many with the current sag of the MCU. It doesn’t always work, mind you, with James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick’s screenplay a little too arrogant for its own good and not as refined as the previous installment (and much lazy dialogue) but it does enough to keep the suspense real, the satire sharp and the “core four” engaging.
What it does do, as many sequels try to do but ultimately fail more times than not, is to go bigger and bolder, and, for the most part, it works. The dynamics of the series and the slasher film are such that it’s always a losing battle to keep things fresh when it ostensibly repeats itself but its strength is that it leans into, not afraid to fall foul of such trappings and with the foresight of knowing that, really, audiences don’t care if the killings are more brutal and more intense. They certainly are, as there is a ferocity here that hasn’t been seen before. And, taking its cue from other sequels, its change of environment – in this case, the bustling, unrelenting nature of New York – does wonders for its look and feel.
Whether the Scream films have much more of a future remains to be seen and, going forward, they may struggle to keep pace with the ever-changing dynamics of genre, franchises, and cinema as a whole, but given audiences’ hunger for such feasts of fear right now, part seven is inevitable. An old-fashioned spring break to the sun, perhaps?