“Fuck this franchise.”
Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) says it almost down the camera, having recently been stabbed by the latest Ghostface killer in Scream VI. By this point of the film, things haven’t even become as meta as they will in the final act, but Mindy’s exasperated comment seems delivered directly to the audience.
The Scream franchise has always been referential, moving swiftly away from horror canon hat tips in Wes Craven’s 1996 original to direct nods to the Scream movies itself in the sequels and “requels” (under the guise of the fictional Stab movie franchise, of course). The masked killers always have a connection to the previous films, whether being direct relatives of previous killers or crazed fans — from Mrs. Loomis’s vengeance as Debbie Salt in Scream 2 to Richie and Amber literally making fan service to the Stab film series their motive for murder in Scream VI, and staging the finale in Stu’s house from the original.
‘Scream VI’ review: Slasher horror has fallen prey to lazy fan service
Watching a Scream movie has become like being slapped repeatedly with a Ghostface mask for hours — and we turn up every time for it. In the sixth installment of the series, references to the Scream movies, as Mashable’s Film Editor Kristy Puchko put it to me, aren’t exactly Easter eggs; they’re more a basket of eggs dumped on the living room floor by the night before Easter. From the opening scene’s Stab-obsessed killers with their little shrine to the fictional movie franchise, to the film’s final act taking place in a bona fide Scream museum, Scream VI is a shrine to Scream itself — though this time sadly without Neve Campbell returning as Sidney Prescott.(Opens in a new tab)
Here’s just a few of the references in the film to the films — I was simply not fast enough to write them all down. Help?
The Screamatorium or Ghostface Museum
Where do we start…
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Scream VI seems determined to show you that the police in the Scream reality aren’t exactly good at keeping, you know, crucial case items locked down. In a sprawling “museum” of evidence, the Ghostface gear of all nine previous killers is displayed on a stage befitting a dramatic performance of The Oresteia a la Scream 2.(Opens in a new tab) Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have quite literally encased key items from the franchise in glass.
“Everything was recreated,” producer Chad Villella told The Hollywood Reporter.(Opens in a new tab) “There might have been a prop or two from Scream V, but all the original things were recreated. Some were made from the same material or the same spool of cloth from the original costumes, but the art department and the costume department worked hand in hand to make sure everything was painstakingly detail oriented and very true to form.”
This decorated magpie’s nest of problematic paraphernalia is the lair of the three Ghostface killers in Scream VI, which also happen to be the vengeful family of Scream V killer Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid) — his father Detective Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), sister Quinn (Liana Liberato), and his brother Ethan (Jack Champion). Bailey tells Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) the Ghostface shrine was built by Richie but registered to the Stab-obsessed Ghostface killers from the opening scene, Jason and Greg, which is how longtime Scream fave and ethically ambiguous investigative reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) tracked it down. All these pieces of clothing, murder weapons, and other items of evidence have somehow found their way out of various police departments and into this weird shrine — it helps having a detective as a dad, I guess, to support your obsession.
Just a couple of things I spied in the Musée Du Cri:
The Ghostface masks, cloaks, and weapons of all nine killers: Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) from Scream, Debbie Salt/Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) and Mickey Altieri (Timothy Olyphant) from Scream 2, Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) from Scream 3, Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts) and Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) from Scream 4, and Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) and Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid) from Scream V. During the film, Charlie Walker and Jill Robert’s DNA is found in one of the masks, while Roman Bridges’s is found in another. And the daggers are still…bloody?
Billy Loomis’s bloody white T-shirt from Scream — covered in both his actual blood and the corn syrup he and Stu used to fake his death.
The TV that killed Stu Macher in Scream — Sidney dropped it on him as it played Halloween.
The knife that Kirby was attacked with in Scream 4 — Hayden Panettiere’s character comes face to face with “the knife I was stabbed with.”
A “Top Story” jacket from Scream — worn by Gail’s ill-fated cameraman Kenny (W. Earl Brown).
A Bradley Video shirt from Scream — worn by Randy, who worked at that video store.
Mindy’s monologue about “The Rules”
“Nobody is making sequels any more — we’re in a franchise!”
Credit: Paramount Pictures
It’s apparently a requirement in Scream movies that one character in each movie must explain The Rules of horror movies(Opens in a new tab) and their sequels(Opens in a new tab), as defined by Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) in the first and second Scream. First appearing in Scream V and returning for Scream VI, Mindy is Randy’s niece and the franchise’s modern sage on how to survive a horror film.
As Mashable’s Kristy Puchko writes in her review, “Sure, this franchise still features movie nerds eagerly bickering over the finer points of the genre. But having posited a slew of rabid fans as killers in Screams 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, there’s little new terrain to tread. Yet we fans demand it, right? So lip service is paid in a convoluted cold open and the requisite Randy round-up of rules, inherited by his niece, Scream V fan favorite Mindy.”
In one scene, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Strong Femme Lead,” Mindy describes the rules to surviving not only a “requel” but a franchise. “Someone is out to make a sequel to the sequel,” she tells the group. “Nobody is making sequels any more — we’re in a franchise!” Mindy designates each member of the group as a different cliche and offers up wisdom about potential suspects, such as “Never trust the love interest.” Later in the film, when Mindy’s tracking a suspect from a broadcast van, she comments, “This is exactly how our Uncle Randy died.”
Scream VI heralds the return of Kirby Reed
Credit: Paramount Pictures
This one’s the big air-puncher for Scream VI: the return of Hayden Panettiere’s character, Kirby Reed. 12 years ago, her fate was left uncertain after Scream 4, in which Kirby’s friend Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts) was revealed as the Ghostface killer alongside Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) in Woodsboro. Kirby thought she was rescuing a tied-up Charlie, who instead stabbed her. Kirby was left for dead, and we didn’t know her fate until Scream V — in a tiny thumbnail on YouTube(Opens in a new tab) open on Richie’s laptop screen, you can spy that Kirby did an interview about her experience with Bloody Disgusting. She’s now working for the Feds, and she’s ready to make Ghostface a real spectre for good.
It wouldn’t be Scream without “Red Right Hand”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 1994 single “Red Right Hand” appears in every Scream film since the 1996 original except Scream 4 — it was allegedly due to copyright issues,(Opens in a new tab) but this hasn’t been confirmed. Cave himself actually recorded a new version for Scream 3, which was eventually released on the Bad Seeds compilation B-Sides & Rarities.
“Red Right Hand” plays twice in Scream VI, because once is apparently not enough. The song plays ahead of Mindy’s explanation of “The Rules,” and it plays again at the end of the film, after the final battle with the three killers.
Gail has “done this dance before”
Can someone please appreciate how many times Gail has saved their asses?
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Gail consistently gets punched by the protagonists of the Scream movies, it seems. Scream VI has a nod to Sidney’s right hook in Scream, specifically the scene(Opens in a new tab) outside the Woodsboro police station when Gail offers to send Sidney a copy of her upcoming book. In Scream VI, Sam takes a swing at Gail when she’s part of a group of reporters lurking outside the police station, but Gail dodges it.
“Nice try, sweetie, but I’ve done this dance before,” she quips, before Tara suddenly finishes the job. Yes, Gail blurs the line between writing true crime and being in it, but remember, people, Gail saves the day multiple times when she’s not being unethical in journalism.
On another, sadder note, in Gail’s apartment, you can see a framed photo of her and Dewey Riley (David Arquette), her perennial love until he was murdered by Ghostface in Scream V.
Skeet’s back again
Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) is back again. Sort of.
Sam Carpenter suffered hallucinations of her dad Billy Loomis in Scream V, which were actually performed by Skeet Ulrich himself.
“Skeet popped up right at the end of the shoot for one day, and we shot him against a green screen,” Bettinelli-Olpin told EW of Scream V.(Opens in a new tab) “Melissa Barrera was there, so they were reading against each other in real-time, but we just had him there for a real quick moment, and we de-aged him just slightly. Turns out Skeet Ulrich is aging super, super-well and is a really good-looking guy! But we loved the idea that Billy is trapped in time, and he would look and sound like [he did in the original Scream]. We even pitched his voice a little bit to put him back in time as much as possible without breaking [into] that uncanny valley feel.”
In Scream VI, Ulrich is back again, still appearing to Sam in various reflections, including the shrine’s glass case of his own Ghostface costume.
Scream VI still gives nods to the horror canon
Jason Carvey (Tony Revolori) loves “The Last Podcast on the Left.”
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Wes Craven’s original was heaving with references to iconic horror films, from The Exorcist to Halloween and Friday the 13th. Scream VI peppers its own throughout the film. In the opening scenes, Jason Carvey (Tony Revolori) has various posters on his apartment walls to indicate his obsessions beyond the Stab franchise. On the walls you’ll see posters for Psycho, Vertigo, and The Last Podcast on the Left podcast, as well as Friday the 13th playing on the TV. On the subway on Halloween night, you can spot extras dressed as Pinhead, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, the Babadook, The Shining twins, Florence Pugh as the May Queen in Midsommar, and much more.
So, there you have it. As Billy Loomis once said, “It’s all one great big movie.”
Scream VI is now in cinemas.
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