"Outer space, no one can hear you scream."
This is the tagline for the classic 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien.
Well, there are plenty of people who hear you scream in New York, but rest assured, that's not going to stop a ghost-masked psychopath from trying to cut you down.
Such a harsh lesson was learned in Scream VI, the brutally violent, often hilarious and generally entertaining latest installment in the long-running Scream horror film franchise.
Scream VI is a quick sequel to last year's Scream, a remake (reboot-sequel) of the 1996 original of the same name. The second "Scream" and – stay with us – the fifth film in the series injected new blood into the understanding of the genre and grossed $140 million in theaters worldwide.
In last year's Scream, co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Wolpin and Tyler Gillette replaced horror master Wes Craven, with a strong script by screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. The formula described by one of the characters in the film, a genre film geek, is that "old-fashioned" characters are paired with a new generation of killers and victims.
Fortunately, filmmakers are back for VI, as are stars Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmine Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding. The only key actor to return from the past is Courtney Cox, and David Arquette and Neve Campbell are nowhere to be seen for completely different reasons. (Hayden Panettiere, who played Kirby Reed in 2011's Scream 4, also joined the bloody fight.)
The new film takes place right after the events of last year's novel. Sam, his half-sister Tara (Ortega), and twins Mindy (Brown) and Chad Mix-Martin (Gooding) leave sleepy but deadly Woodsboro for the big apple. While the final three are in college (note: this 1997 parallel Scream 2 ), Sam works two jobs to help pay the rent the girls share with "sex-positive" newcomer Quinn (Liana Liberato). Meanwhile, Chad gets a room with another new face, the jerk Ethan (Zach Champion).
As they try to live a normal college life and put their traumatic past behind them, Sam is haunted by their experiences with various Ghostfaces and the family line that runs in Scream. Sam gives advice but doesn't share much.
"I have trust issues," she told her therapist.
We will get there.
Before meeting the gang at a frat party, 'VI' put a new spin on the traditional phone call opener 'Scream'. These include Samara Weaving, star of 2019's Extremely Difficult Bettinelli-Wolpin and Gillette's Ready or Not, and Tony Revolori (Spider-Man: No Way Home, TV series Willow).
The final story also features Quinn's father, a police officer, Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney of the television series Hannah); Danny (Josh Segara), the "pretty boy" neighbor Sam once asked; Anika (Devin Nekoda), Mindy's girlfriend; And of course broadcaster Gail Weathers (Cox). It keeps your interest, but doesn't feel as fresh as its predecessor.
However, there's a dangerous distraction as Mindy guides the gang – and us – through the fallout from Jenna's situation, which means they're now in the franchise. Anyone who could be killed or became a murderer, he insisted, had to be subdued and expectations lowered, he said.
The writers and directors certainly upped the gore quotient, if not necessarily the death count, with "VI" and manage to keep you guessing — basically, sort of — about who's behind the Ghostface mask.
They also take advantage of the big city atmosphere, especially with long scenes where various characters ride a crowded and sometimes dark subway car. It's as exciting as the movie Scream.
The big climactic sequence is much harder to take seriously, but it certainly fits into this ordered comedy universe and is inextricably linked to the fictional betrayal film franchise.
If anything, it's relatively fun to revisit the "four cores" — as Chad tells Sam, Tara, Mindy, and himself. Brown (Yellow Vest) brings the most to the mix, but we also like to watch Ortega, who just starred in the Netflix series on Wednesday and reprises his role in the equally acclaimed horror film X. His character is constantly in danger.
It's easy to understand the rush to make this latest howler, but a little more time between this and the inevitable seventh episode might help soften the heart of the horror a little. And it doesn't hurt that the franchise and Campbell can find a way to reconcile.
So maybe put the knife away, Ghostface. But, you know, don't be gone too long.
"Scream VI" is rated R for intense gory violence and brief swearing and drug use. Duration: 2 hours 3 minutes.