Just one year after Scream (2022) was released, the sequel, Scream VI, landed. Following on from the events of its predecessor, the latest entry into the franchise picks up one year on from the latest bloodbath in Woodsboro. With most of the previous film’s cast returning alongside a handful of new characters, Scream VI continues the rich slasher traditions of its predecessors.

Unlike most of the other Scream sequels, Scream VI takes its action out of Woodsboro. After the events of Scream (2022), the Carpenter sisters have moved to New York – Tara is at college, and older sister Sam has followed to keep her safe and support her. However, the Big Apple clearly isn’t far enough from Woodsboro to put Ghostface behind them – Sam and Tara find themselves tangled yet again in a web of brutal violence.

Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Mason Gooding all return from Scream (2022). Dermot Mulroney, Liana Liberato, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Devyn Nekoda, and Josh Segarra all appear as new characters. Tony Revolori and Samara Weaving appear in minor roles in the film’s opening scene, and Roger L. Jackson, Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, and Hayden Panettiere all reprieve their roles from earlier in the franchise. It’s a sizable cast.

The Scream VI Cast Make Its Central Mystery Feel Fun & Fresh

Dermot Mulroney, Jenna Ortega, Jack Champion, Hayden Panettiere, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Melissa Barrera, and Mason Gooding in Scream VI (2023)

The success of the Scream movies has been upon two core principles: murder and mystery. The film’s large cast has become an all-important part of maintaining the latter, with plenty of potential murderers lurking within the group. (That also leaves the rest as potential victims, which is good for the body count.) Thankfully, not only is Scream VI aware of this, but utilizes its ensemble cast appropriately.

Embracing its predecessors meta approach to the Scream format was a must, and Scream VI knows it. With a number of key contenders for the sequel’s Ghostface, it’s vital to build a dynamic of distrust between characters. This is largely achieved through intelligent writing, but there’s a healthy dose of solid acting mixed in there to really sell it.

Melissa Barrera leads the cast well, and Hayden Panettiere’s return to Hollywood makes an excellent addition to the film. The character of Kirby reappearing helps to smooth over the void left by Sidney Prescott’s absence, adding another “legacy” character into the mix. Jenna Ortega also proves her talent yet again with an near-effortless performance that hits all the right notes.

Scream VI’s Scares Fail To Live Up To The Franchise’s Standards

Ghostface in Scream VI (2023)

As much as Scream VI‘s cast play their roles brilliantly, the film is far from the franchise’s best. It’s a film that’s well aware it lacks the originality the franchise once boasted, and that’s fine: but it still needs to deliver solid scares. However, where Scream (2022) still managed to build a solid atmosphere of tension that resulted in soundly-delivered jump scares, the sequel falls a little short.

Scream VI has blood – plenty of it – but it’s missing any genuine terror. One or two scenes might raise the pulse slightly, but they’re not out and out scary, and that’s a major misstep. For all its attempts to outsmart the audience and deliver a good Scream sequel, Scream VI seems to have forgotten it also needs to actually scare its audience.

Ultimately, Scream VI is far from the franchise’s worst film. It isn’t overly scary but it delivers a reasonably solid mystery with an only somewhat predictable ending. The premise remains excellent, as does the execution, but it’s missing some of the terror that the franchise once inspired.

Rating: 65%

Summary: Scream VI handles the pressures of a continuing horror franchise well, keeping things fresh and interesting. However, it’s not particularly scary, and cracks in the franchise’s ongoing ability to shock and surprise are beginning to show.

Highlight: The opening Ghostface sequence is a perfectly-executed double bluff that really sets the tone for a well-paced, tightly-written sequel.