This post contains spoilers for "Scream VI."
With Radio Silence (Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin) at the helm, the latest entry in the ongoing "Scream" saga goes for broke with a new setting and the most vicious iteration of its masked killer to date. When he isn't flaying bodies or shooting up a bodega, Ghostface is plotting an elaborate ruse to trap our heroes inside a hidden shrine. There's just something different about this Ghostface; even his sense of humor is unfamiliar.
With its rug-pulling opening, visceral brutality, and grittier tone, "Scream VI" often doesn't feel like a "Scream" movie. Still, as with every installment, the film is as much about cutting wit as it is bloody setpieces. In this chapter, Gillett and Bettinelli-Oplin delight with situational humor and ironic conversations while pouring the gore on thick. It's not "Scream 3"-level camp, but rather "Scream 2" with a straight-laced edge. But Ghostface's latest outing possesses its own bone-tickling charm, too. Off the back of three viewings over opening weekend, here's a look at both the film's most terrifying moments as well as its most hilarious. After all, you can't have one without the other. Let's get started.
Hilarious: The Core Four
There's a running joke in "Scream VI" about Tara (Jenna Ortega), Sam (Melissa Barrera), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), and Chad (Mason Gooding) being the "core four." As the remaining survivors from the latest Woodsboro massacre, they've supported and comforted each other through trying times. So, their group should definitely have a nickname, right? Unfortunately, no one else agrees.
Chad tries his best to make "core four" happen anyway. He first suggests the moniker while the four have a sleepover to stand guard against Ghostface. "Up top!" he beams. "Down low..." He turns to his friends with his hand outstretched, and is immediately shut down. He tries again later, after Sam learns that she's the prime suspect in the new killing spree. As he tells the group, they've each learned to cope in their own way. Making up a silly nickname is his method of dealing with things.
Throughout the film, "core four" becomes a chant for the group. In times of distress, or when they emerge victorious, the nickname becomes a refrain that signifies their will to survive and their commitment to one another. Sure, it's a little corny, but I guarantee you'll be saying it over and over again when the film is over.
Terrifying: The Opening Is Killer
Laura Crane (Samara Weaving) waits for her date at the bar. She's noticeably nervous, and stares at her phone. "I'm lost," her date texts. She laughs to herself. When her date asks if he can call, she gives him directions to the bar, which is nestled between two bustling streets and facing a dark alleyway. She waves to flag him down, but doesn't see him approaching.
Against her better judgment, she heads down the alley. There's still no sign of him. The voice modulator quickly snaps on, frightening Laura to her core. That's when we know it's already too late. Ghostface pounces and guts the woman. In a surprising and bold move, Ghostface then removes his mask, revealing a man named Jason (Tony Revolori) underneath. He disrobes, retrieves his backpack, and heads down the street, where he runs into Tara. They happen to know each other, which makes the revelation of his identity all the more chilling.
Jason slips back into the crowd as though nothing is amiss. Laura's body is obstructed from view by trash, so it won't be discovered until the following morning. That's the thing about "Scream VI" in general: It feels too real, as if the story has been ripped straight from the headlines. As the teaser trailer proclaims, "In a city of millions, no one hears you scream." That's never clearer than in the film's brutal opening.
Hilarious: It's Taser Time
Tara wants to go to a frat party. As she tells Sam later, she believes living in the present is more therapeutic than wallowing in the past. So, she scampers off to a college bash in a full pirate costume. Once there, she chugs several cups' worth of beer before the keg is completely tapped. A skeevy dudebro named Frankie (Andre Anthony) approaches and says there are more hardcore drinks in the kitchen, then offers her a bottle of Fireball in his bedroom -- that's code for hooking up, if you haven't gotten the memo. At first, Tara hesitates, but she quickly shrugs it off and takes his hand.
As they head up the stairs, Chad gets in an altercation with Frankie. Before things get too dire, Sam arrives, firmly gripping a taster. "I'm just gonna tase you in the balls real quick," she says, before zapping Frankie's crotch. He crumples like a piece of notebook paper, face contorting in agony as Sam, pleased with herself, turns toward her sister. It's a simple, almost throwaway scene, but it beautifully captures the film's dark sense of humor. It helps that Barrera delivers the line with an acidic coolness. She's in control, and she won't let anyone tell her any differently. That's real boss energy.
Terrifying: Murder In The Bodega
Ghostface brazenly attacks Tara and Sam on the street, but they manage to dodge his knife. Then, Ghostface trails them to a nearby bodega. The initial "Scream VI" trailer gave us a glimpse of this sequence, but the final product is far more thrilling than that tease indicated. Ghostface is merciless, ripping apart shoppers on the way to his target. The clerk whips out a pump-action shotgun and takes aim, but misses. Ghostface slips around the display racks, comes up behind him, and slides the knife into his chest. The man stumbles backward, dropping the gun, and Ghostface takes the opportunity to trade in his knife for something more versatile.
As Tara and Sam take refuge behind one of the shelves, trying not to make any noise, directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin draw out the moment for an excruciating amount of time. Each second feels like an eternity. Ghostface tiptoes through each aisle, inching closer and closer to the two young women. The tension is so thick you'd need a well-sharpened chainsaw to cut through it. Ghostface has never been more horrifying.
Hilarious: What Did You Just Say?
One of the most unexpected treats in "Scream VI" is the budding romance between two of the core four, Chad and Tara. After the frat party, Chad brings Tara a bottle of Tylenol to help with her hangover, and the two share a moment. "I think you're really special," Chad says. They playfully bump shoulders, but there's an obvious spark between them. The love between good friends is the best kind of love.
Chad and Tara lean in, ready to kiss. Then, at the last second, roommate Quinn (Liana Liberato) bursts through the door. Everyone freezes. "Did I just c***block you?" Quinn asks. Tara responds, "What did you just say?" Quinn goes on to say the word again a handful of times, making Chad laugh nervously while asking her to stop. In a film with a surprisingly dark edge, this so-awkward-it's-funny scene provides some much-needed levity.
Terrifying: Chutes And Ladders
Midway through "Scream VI," Ghostface ups the stakes significantly. While the core four chat in the dining area, the killer sneaks into the apartment and slits Quinn's throat. "Run...," Mindy whispers, but they're out of time. Quinn's bedroom door busts open, revealing her lifeless, bloody body. Ghostface heaves her corpse onto Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and the group scatters. Sam scrambles to find a weapon, while Ghostface slashes at Mindy and Anika.
Sam, Mindy, and Anika barricade themselves inside the bathroom. They're several floors high, so there's no possible way to escape until Sam's hunky boyfriend, Danny (Josh Segarra), magically whips out an extendable ladder. Danny shoves it out the window and across the gap to Sam's apartment. It's a deadly drop, but they must cross it regardless. Sam, Mindy, and finally Anika take turns crawling over the alleyway in an agonizing sequence. Even before Anika plummets to her death, the scene brilliantly taps into the horror of acrophobia with effective tension-building that fully delivers on the setup.
Hilarious: Gale Dodges A Punch
Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin include super cool Easter eggs in "Scream VI" every chance they get. Following a visit to a police station, journalists swarm Sam and Tara. Among them is Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), dressed to the nines in an electric blue jumpsuit. She unleashes her usual thorny line of questioning, which Sam answers by launching a fist at Gale's face. Gale dodges, reminding Sam that it's not her first dance. There's a pause, then Tara lunges forward and plants a right hook on Gale's jaw. The other journalists gasp, as does the audience, although the shock quickly devolves into chuckles.
Hardcore fans will experience a bit of deja vu when watching this scene. Not only is it a riff on the "I'll send you a copy" moment from the original "Scream," but also the redux in the 1997 sequel. In both those cases, Gale more than deserves to be taken down a notch. The same goes for the parallel scene in "Scream VI," during which we learn that Gale has written a novel about the events of the previous film. Instead of writing a book about Dewey like she promised, Gale returned to her old habits, exploiting tragedy to make a quick buck. As such, an old-fashioned slugging is warranted; at the very least it gives viewers a chance to laugh amid so much heaviness.
Terrifying: Gale's Confrontation
Gale and Ghostface have never spoken on the phone -- until now. While Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) attempts to lure Ghostface into broad daylight, the killer pays Gale an unwelcome visit at her upscale apartment. "It's long overdue," Ghostface says. "Scream 2" is the axis that "Scream VI" spins on, and this confrontation is no exception. In fact, it injects a steroid directly into that chase scene, converting the chest-pounding sequence into a monstrous assault on the senses.
After dispatching Gale's new beau, Ghostface goes in for the kill. At this point, "Scream VI" outdoes itself. Gale flings furniture and other random objects in Ghostface's path. Ghostface's knife slashes the air, barely missing her. The reporter makes her way out onto her high-rise patio before veering back inside. Ghostface doesn't lose a single step, closing in on his prey. The hand-to-hand combat escalates, and Gale is stabbed in the chest and stomach as Ghostface makes her hurt for the pain she exploited in her latest book. Once Ghostface flees, Gale, barely alive, urges Sam and Tara to tell Sidney that Ghostface didn't get her. It's the film's best moment, one that'll make you scream and cry in equal measure.
Hilarious: Mindy Meets Kirby
In "Scream 4," Kirby was one of the film's two resident horror nerds (Rory Culkin's Charlie Walker was the other). Knowing that she was going to make a big comeback, I was most excited to see Kirby interact with Mindy, this generation's horror aficionado. And goodness, the meeting did not disappoint. Upon discovering the hidden Ghostface shrine, Gale invites the group to see it and reveals its contents. Set inside an abandoned movie theater, the display lays out the entire history of the "Scream" franchise.
Kirby makes a comment about the television set that killed Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) before plopping down beside Mindy. Then, the pair begin testing each other's horror geek bona fides. They each share their picks for the best "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday the 13th" movies, opine on the most underrated "Psycho" cut — and, hallelujah, give "Psycho II" its due! — and discuss whether the original "Candyman" or the legacy sequel is better. With every answer they give, Kirby and Mindy survey one another, attempting to get a reading on their counterpart. "Game recognizes game," Mindy concedes. The moment is too brief -- hopefully "Scream VII" will give us a longer interaction between the two -- but for "Scream" fans, it's immediately iconic.
Terrifying: Mindy Takes The Train
In the film's third act, the core four meet Kirby, then head back to the shrine, hoping to lure Ghostface out and annihilate him. Unfortunately, it's Halloween, so the subways are flooded with people in costumes heading out for a night of drunken revelry. While hopping aboard a train, the group separates, with Mindy and Ethan (Jake Champion) getting stuck behind. If you've ever lived in New York City, you know how clogged the subway can get; the film captures the sheer terror one can feel while trying to get to the next stop.
On both trains, numerous Ghostfaces swim in a sea swaying bodies. Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin take a moment to let the audience writhe; the scene takes its sweet time to unspool. Then, when you least expect a jump scare, one pounces on you from behind. Ghostface plunges a knife into Mindy's stomach, covering her mouth to prevent her screaming. No one around her bats an eye.
Such is the way of life in the Big Apple. Danger lurks around every single corner, and you better not expect anyone to come running to your aid. It's not likely to happen. In these moments — the ones that play on the real-world nature of its setting — "Scream VI" is at its most frightening.
Hilarious: Gale And Kirby Banter
Gale can't believe that Kirby is old enough to be in the FBI. "She's a child. When did they start letting children into the FBI?" she scoffs. "I'm 30," Kirby retorts. And on and on they go. The two have only just reunited after 12 years, and a lot has happened since the events of "Scream 4." It takes Gale some time to realize Kirby is no longer that sweet-faced horror geek she once knew.
As the investigation intensifies, Gale uses her investigative journalist skills to uncover a secret hideout that contains evidence from each of Ghostface's previous murder sprees. On their way to the lair, Kirby mentions that she never discovered any such location when looking over financial records. Gale responds with a quip: "Don't worry, I'm just really good at my job. You'll get there." Kirby sighs and rolls her eyes. These quick exchanges enrich their relationship, and give the film bursts of humor. As Kirby joins the ranks of the "Scream" veterans, Gale ends up being a perfect foil.
Terrifying: Is Chad's Time Really Up?
While exploring the hidden shrine, Chad and Tara lean in for a smooch. Then, disaster strikes. Ghostface pops out of nowhere and slides the knife into Tara's side. Chad lunges forward to ward off the masked killer, then he and Tara meet up with Sam and run for their lives. In one of the most high-octane moments in the film, the characters dash through the theater's narrow back hallways. The camera jerks back and forth wildly, mimicking the movement of the threat bearing down on them.
The chase leads them back around to the lobby, where Chad is ambushed by another Ghostface killer. As Tara and Sam look on in shock, Chad takes a knife to the torso more than 10 times. Blood oozes from his lips, and his eyes fill with tears. What makes this sequence so terrifying is how visceral and mean it is; you don't get a second to breathe until it's over. It's one of the most brutal moments in a film full of them.
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