Also known as Scream of Diminishing Returns, Scream VI picks up in New York with Tara (Jenna Ortega), Chad (Mason Gooding), and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) attending Blackmore University (not named for Ritchie Blackmore), and lead Sam (Melissa Barrera) rooming with her sister Tara. The “Core Four,” as they call themselves, try to put Woodsboro behind them: Sam through therapy and prescribed medication, Tara by acting like nothing happened, and Chad and Mindy doing who-knows-what because they’re so underwritten.
Oh, wait: Mindy, who you may recall is Randy (Jamie Kennedy) from the original Scream’s niece, is here to fill his role as “person who amusingly drops exposition.” Scream VI indicates the emergence of a franchise, which means everything will be bigger and bolder, and none of the main characters is exempt from death. The main characters are also not exempt from a limp screenplay; it scatters so many breadcrumbs as to Ghostface’s identity that it may as well hand each audience member a baguette from a bakery named after the killer(s).
Courteney Cox provides welcome spunk and nostalgia. Barrera is a solid lead. But Ortega seems bored, Dermot Mulroney as a cop is sorely miscast, and Sidney Prescott is missed. (Note to producers: If you were going to stiff Neve Campbell of her desired salary, you at least could have had the huevos to kill her character instead of going for low-hanging-fruit David Arquette in the previous installment.)
Aside from one effectively tense sequence set in a New York City bodega, there’s a weariness to this entry that it tries to make up for by being in love with itself. But even the extra gore—and there’s a lot of extra gore—is kind of bland, though one kill makes nifty reference to Psycho II. Hey, Ghostface: Hang up the mask. R, 123 min.