At The Movies: Newest slasher flick suffers from Scream fatigue

Scream VI continues the slasher franchise by taking former victims Sam and Tara – played by Melissa Barrera (left) and Jenna Ortega – away from their small town and into New York City. PHOTO: UIP

Scream VI (M18)

122 minutes, opens on Thursday

2 stars

The story: In this continuation of the story that began in Scream (2022), Sam (Melissa Barrera) and half-sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), with their friends, the twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), seek a new start in New York City. The survivors of the serial killer Ghostface, however, find that the Internet never forgets – online conspiracy theorists and trolls hound the four. When people they know start dying, the four must find out who the new mask-wearing murderers are.

Scream in 2022 was, against all expectations, good. Not only did the fifth movie in the franchise have to introduce a mostly new cast and story, it also had to make callbacks to the first Scream, released in 1996. Last year’s update did the job admirably, by staying true to the original’s playful references to slasher movie lore and logic while also delivering a good amount of gory whodunnit thrills.

In this movie, there is a cheeky reference to the Hollywood habit of making sequels louder and more annoying than the original. The normal expectation would be for this movie, a sequel, to subvert that expectation. Instead, it delivers the same story as the fifth movie, taken to a louder, sillier place. Audacity or laziness? This reviewer thinks it is the latter.

It is not a crime to repeat a formula. A slasher movie follows a template that everyone loves, as this movie’s characters like to say, and they are correct.

But it is a creative crime to repeat a plot with more or less the same cast, and have them learn nothing from the past. Correction: Sam (Barrera) and Tara (Ortega) do address the trauma of having survived a killer’s spree, but the conversation is a momentary blip in a wash of stab-stab noise.

The original Scream from 1996 was special because it was a slasher movie for the slasher-jaded generation.

No one expects Sam and Tara to strap on grenade launchers or get ripped like The Terminator’s Sarah Connor, but the way they show zero evidence of having evolved, remaining mostly naive in the face of danger, is galling.

Hot take: This follow-up to Scream (2022), by taking things to loud and ludicrous extremes, has become a cartoon version of the 1996 original concept.

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