Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Screenplay James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick
Starring Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Mason Gooding, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Jenna Ortega, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox

The best thing about the original Scream is that it was indeed an original. The idea of a surprise reveal of (spoiler for those who have not seen it) not one but two killers working in tandem made everything seem possible. As years and sequels passed, the surprises became fewer until, finally, it takes literally minutes to figure out not only who’s next, but who’s doing the killing and why.

This time, like in Scream 2, the story is moved out of Woodsboro and into a college setting. The fact that the college and all four main surviving cast members are in New York evokes imagery of Jason Takes Manhattan. This is not the only reference that will be made in Scream VI. Disappointment abounds when we discover that in a city of over 8 million, there are so few candidates to be potential killers.

The Carpenter sisters are living together, with the older Sam (Barrera) helicoptering over Tara (Ortega) through the help of the Meeks-Martin twins (Brown and Gooding). The wheel of death begins to spin about the foursome, and, inexplicably the dial points in the direction of Sam, who has been singled out as a killer via online character assassination, or something.

Gail Weathers (Cox), the only survivor of the original still willing to accept limited screentime, shows up to provide investigative results fellow survivor Kirby (Panettiere) of the FBI, and dectective Wayne Bailey (Mulroney) have been unable to obtain. Sydney, last seen in Scream (V) gives her love. That love is not enough to go through the tired exercise of the main girl(s) being mad enough to take a swing at Gail for writing yet another book about the previous entry.

Scream VI does have two good and somewhat original sequences that make the rest of the slog worth enduring. The first is a romp through a convenience store. The second takes place in a light-flickering subway car (is there any other in a horror film) filled with Halloween masks of numerous films and more than a few Ghostfaces.

The most annoying facet of Scream VI and its immediate predacessor is the way so many characters are sliced and diced and show up later, with little to no evidence of their earlier close encounter with death. At least in the first trilogy, we saw Dewey (David Arquette) limp around a little. Seeing people presumably killed, even multiple times, makes one actually wish the character would forever be erased from the story.

The Scream franchise has always had a certain sense of style, and this film is no different. The directors and writers of the last two films have successfully mirrored what Craven and Williamson have done before with what they consider to be original storytelling twists. By now, there is little else to recommend beyond style. If one likes knowing what is coming will look as cool as what they saw before, then this film will not disappoint.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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