DOUBLE FEATURE: The Nun (2018) & The Nun II (2023)


Corin Hardy (THE NUN)

Michael Chaves (THE NUN II)


Taissa Farmiga - Sister Irene

Jonas Bloquet - Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault

Bonnie Aarons - The Nun

Demian Bichir - Father Burke (THE NUN)

Ingrid Bisu - Sister Oana (THE NUN)

Charlotte Hope - Sister Victoria (THE NUN)

Storm Reid - Debra (THE NUN II)

Anna Popplewell - Kate (THE NUN II)

Katelyn Rose Downey - Sophie (THE NUN II)

Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Demons/Possession

Running Time - 96 Minutes (THE NUN)/110 Minutes (THE NUN II)


THE NUN - When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past (Demian Bichir) and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows (Taissa Farmiga) are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun (Bonnie Aarons) that first terrorized audiences in THE CONJURING 2 as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

THE NUN II - Four years after the events at the Abbey of St. Carta, Sister Irene returns once again and comes face to face with the demonic force Valak, the Nun.


After taking a much needed break from reviewing since April, I was planning on returning many times for films that were being released theatrically for the past few months. While there were a couple of gems out there [THE BLACKENING and TALK TO ME], the others just left me in a state of “meh”.

THE BOOGEYMAN? Fine, but not motivating enough to discuss.

INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR? Underwhelming return for the original cast that probably would have lowered my original score if I had written about it.

THE HAUNTED MANSION? I forgot it even existed and so should you.

THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER? Hopefully for all our sakes.

But I knew I had to return for something. And with 2023’s spooky season finally here, we got some big projects being released. SAW X? THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER? FIVE NIGHT AT FREDDY’S? There are films many of us will be discussing for the next couple of months.

However things are starting early with THE NUN II, another spin-off of the popular and successful THE CONJURING franchise that not many people were all that excited about honestly. Despite watching all three CONJURING flicks [first two are aces, the third one is whatever], I have never sat down and watched any of the spin-offs. No ANNABELLE movies. Not THE NUN flicks. And I never bothered with THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA. But I’m an AMC A-List member and I figured I might as well use my subscription on this. But first, I had to watch the original NUN movie to understand this sequel.

And man… 2018’s THE NUN is not a good movie. In fact, it’s so uneventful that I have already forgotten what I watched [besides the flashbacks and call backs in the sequel]. Audiences must have really loved the Nun character in THE CONJURING 2, which is the only explanation I can come up with when it comes to its good box office numbers. But I’m sure some wished they had never bothered after watching it.

The good? THE NUN has a ton of atmosphere and mood that at least tries to give the movie a creepy vibe that the story and direction fail to do. So great Gothic cinematography boosts the first film, along with a solid cast that also elevates proceedings a bit. Bonnie Aarons is a wonderful presence as the evil Nun, while Taissa Farmiga and Demian Bichir do well with what they’re given as the two main protagonists. Jonas Bloquet is also okay, although his attempt as the comic relief doesn’t really work at all and feels forced.

Other than that, THE NUN is a mess of a spin-off. Director Corin Hardy relies too much on jump scares - none of them work, by the way - making the film feel more annoying than scary. And the story is all over the place, to the point where it’s big ambition to do an INDIANA JONES and DA VINCI CODE type of narrative just takes you out of it and makes you not remember much at all once it’s over. Not only do you have an evil Nun, but you also have a demonic ghost child, the blood of Jesus Christ as a MacGuffin, and a young nun with visions that may or may not be doing more harm than good. The film honestly barely kept my interest despite all of this, mainly because none of these plot devices felt truly developed. THE CONJURING films work because they follow the slow burn, less-is-more approach. THE NUN tries too much and feels like an unnecessary cash in as a result.

Because of my lack of feelings for THE NUN, I honestly wasn’t expecting much out of THE NUN II. But surprisingly, this is a sequel that actually manages to be a huge improvement over the first one in almost every single way. Hell, I liked THE NUN II more than some of the other recent films that I wrote about earlier.

The producers of THE NUN must have realized that despite the money they made, the fan and critical response wasn’t great. And despite this sequel being a total cash grab and unnecessary, I have to actually admire everyone involved for fixing some of the issues and actually trying to make a decently watchable film that felt more focused and purposeful for the overall franchise. I’m not saying that THE NUN II is a masterpiece or even good, but I can respect producers who see the error of their ways to create a film even a hater like me could even enjoy for the most part.

What helps this sequel is that THE NUN II has a tighter, more focused narrative that keeps things as simple as possible, despite it being pretty generic and cliche. There’s an actual course of action from beginning to end that makes sense, allowing characters old and new to develop into actual people we can somewhat care about and/or have a reaction to, despite a larger cast. 

Unlike the adventure and mystery style of the first film, THE NUN II is a more straightforward good versus evil, exorcism type of movie that we’ve all seen done multiple times before. And while we’ve already had films this year that have done this [THE POPE’S EXORCIST] and films yet to come [THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER], at least it’s a narrative I can easily understand and get into. Frenchie being possessed by the Nun’s evil gives the movie a reason for Sister Irene to seek him out and reconnect. His possession also justifies why he’s working at a Catholic school and seeking some ancient artifact for his possessor to gain ultimate power. These plot devices allow older characters to grow in a more interesting way that the previous film didn’t allow them to, while giving newer characters a reason to exist - even if most of them are just there to be victims of the evil that’s corrupting the school. Sister Irene’s new friendship and mentorship with nun-in-training Debra is given enough time to develop into something interesting enough that I wouldn’t mind it continuing if there’s another installment. Frenchie’s more serious character is a massive improvement and he becomes a well-written character because of it, especially through his relationships with a woman he previously had feelings for [Irene] and the teacher he falls for [Kate] fleshing him out and giving him a reason to fight against the evil possessing him. We even have a decent mystery and some bullish female characters that will probably elicit some sort of reaction from the audience.

The direction by Michael Chaves, who also directed CONJURING spin-off THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA [which I’ve never bothered with] and THE CONJURING 3 [yuck], does a good job with THE NUN II. The film loses a lot of its atmosphere and mood from the first film unfortunately. But the tone and action is done a lot better here. There’s no unnecessary comedy getting in the way. The jump scares are kept to a minimum. The newsstand scene from the trailer is still effective within the context of the film [great scene]. And the film’s final act is pretty strong, especially when we have the Nun stalking people, a ton of explosions and a good looking Devil-Goat thing that terrorizes the school. Chaves doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything like that, but I thought the film was visually more interesting than the first film.

The actors are also pretty good here again. The returning actors [Farmiga and Blochet] are much stronger in the sequel, due to better writing for their characters and just an overall confidence boost from both of them. Blochet, in particular, is handled much better here than in the first as he’s given more meaty material to chew on. Bonnie Aarons is still wonderful as the evil Nun, maintaining the same level of malevolent presence she had in THE CONJURING 2. The only actor who felt a bit out-of-place is probably Storm Reid as the new nun-in-training Debra. She’s not terrible or anything [actually, she’s good in the role she’s given], but her character is written in such a modern way that her performance doesn’t fit the tone of a 1950s period piece. You get a bit used to it by the film’s end, but it’s definitely jarring for her first few scenes. 


Even though I had to sit through the bland and unimpressive THE NUN from 2018 in order to watch the current THE NUN II, I’m kind of glad I did since the sequel is a much better time than the first installment. THE NUN skates by with a great atmosphere and decent performances, but not much else. THE NUN II is an improvement in almost every way. Better performances, more care with the jump scares and a more interesting, if not generic, good versus evil exorcism movie that allows some depth to characters who didn’t have much before.

In fact, I had more fun with THE NUN II than a majority of the big screen horror films I’ve watched this summer, which is surprising since I didn’t care about this sequel at all prior to viewing it. I don’t think any of THE NUN films are must-sees or anything, but it may be worth sitting through the dull first movie in order to get caught up with the much more watchable sequel. With the success of the new installment, we’ll probably see more about this character. But we don’t really need NUN of that, do we?


THE NUN (2018)

1.5 Howls Outta 4

(4 out of 10)

THE NUN II (2023)

2.5 Howls Outta 4

(6 out of 10)


Evil Dead Rise (2023)


Lee Cronin


Lily Sullivan - Beth

Alyssa Sutherland - Ellie

Morgan Davies - Danny

Gabrielle Echols - Bridget

Nell Fisher - Cassie

Jayden Daniels - Gabriel

Anna-Maree Thomas - Jessica

Genre - Horror/Demons

Running Time - 97 Minutes


Two sisters find an ancient book that gives birth to bloodthirsty demons that run amok in a Los Angeles apartment building and thrusts them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.


After ten years since a popular remake that was meant to relaunch a beloved franchise, we finally get a new EVIL DEAD movie in theaters. Ever since 1981, this cult horror franchise has been embraced warmly by the horror community through multiple films, several video games and even a television show that lasted for three seasons. Originally planned to be an HBO Max exclusive for 2022, the new owners of Warner Bros. Discovery decided it was worth releasing the series’ fifth installment, EVIL DEAD RISE, in theaters as a way to gain a profit by seeing how well it would perform at the box office. Considering the film has already made its budget back and just needs a few million to start building a profit for the studio, I say WBD made the right decision here. It’s also a good thing that EVIL DEAD RISE is a pretty good horror flick, despite that this installment may be the weakest of any EVIL DEAD film [and TV show] that has come before it.

First off, I think having a different location for the Deadites was a great decision. It’s been proven that it can work outside of a woods and cabin setting, like the refreshing take in ARMY OF DARKNESS and even on the Ash vs. Evil Dead television show. Having the demons take over a high rise building in Los Angeles is definitely a step in the right direction if they plan on continuing the franchise [which will obviously happen due to EVIL DEAD RISE’s success]. While I do wish more was done inside of the entire building when it came to the terror, I thought enough of the location was used to create a level of claustrophobia. Having most of the events happen within a single apartment was cool, while the elevator and parking garage moments were effectively used to heighten things a bit.

I also thought the characters were likable enough of the audience to get behind them, even if some of them do stupid things. I wish the characters had a bit more depth, but you get enough information about them to know who they are. Free-spirit Beth is hiding a pregnancy she hasn’t fully dealt with yet. Single mother Ellie who is trying to move on with her life, dealing with the abandonment of an ex-husband and having to raise three children while preparing a quick move out of the building. Bridget seems to be the oldest and environmentally friendly. Danny is a DJ and music lover who sees demonic books and reads them while playing records where the evil words of the Naturom Demonto are being read to unleash hell. Cassie is the youngest and seems to enjoy making weapons to protect herself. They’re a dysfunctional family who clearly love each other and get tested when Ellie becomes a Deadite. We also have neighbors who seem to have their own stories, but they’re never really focused on. Neighbor Gabriel seemed to have a thing for Ellie and vice-versa, but that never went anywhere really. I don’t think the film focuses on the relationships enough to feel their familial connection. But separately, the characters are enjoyable to watch on various levels.

I think the only reason why the characters worked better than what the script probably meant was due to the performances. Everyone in the cast did a great job with what they were given. In particular, Lily Sullivan was a strong lead as Beth. Sullivan manages to balance toughness with vulnerability, convincingly playing a woman who will do anything to make sure her and her family survive while trying to figure out how to stop the Deadites from completely taking over the building. Of the younger cast, Nell Fisher probably left the biggest impression as Cassie. Being the youngest main actress, Fisher carried herself very well and probably had the time of her life stabbing people in self-defense and getting drenched in blood. Her character made some real dumb decisions that kind of annoyed me, but Fisher’s likability softened those feelings a bit.

The star of the show though was, undoubtedly, Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie. Sutherland’s solid as a struggling single mother and sister who is trying to move on with her life for the sake of her children. But when she becomes the lead Deadite for the rest of the movie, Sutherland’s performance is borderline creepy and darkly comedic at the same time. She also changes up her body movements, transforming her character from human to this alien being that has no issue causing havoc for her host’s family. I hope to see Sutherland do more projects in the future because she really stepped up and elevated EVIL DEAD RISE for me.

I also enjoyed the homages and easter eggs that the film provided to fans of the franchise and to fans of the genre. We have references to previous EVIL DEAD films, like the mention of swallowing souls, reciting “Dead by Dawn” and even the eyeball gag into someone’s mouth like in EVIL DEAD II. Plus, we get the classic chainsaw making an appearance.

There are also tributes for other horror films. The peep hole stuff reminded me of classic Dario Argento, especially 1986’s OPERA. We get blood pouring out of an elevator like 1980’s THE SHINING. And the final boss seems to be inspired by 1982’s THE THING. It’s obvious Lee Cronin is a horror film fan and I felt a lot of these callbacks felt more inspired than fan service.

The gore and effects were also very good. A mix of both practical effects and CGI, they looked pretty impressive considering the movie had a $15 million budget. The Deadites looked great. The blood looked convincing. While the film could have been a bit edgier like the 2013 reboot/remake, some of the violent moments were cringe worthy in the best way. That cheese grater moment in particular - *shivers*.

The direction by Lee Cronin is super solid, as he understood the assignment and managed to connect EVIL DEAD RISE to the rest of the franchise while maintaining its own identity. I thought there was a lot of style in terms of shots and I felt what was used when it came to the building was done really well. I liked that the Raimi sweeping shots for the Deadites were retained and that the gruesome moments weren’t shied away. I think Cronin could have possibly pushed things further and actually made the movie scarier than it actually was. But the film was shot well and Cronin managed to keep the essence of the franchise intact.

There are issues with EVIL DEAD RISE though. While I understood the need for the pregnancy angle as a plot device to make Beth more maternal as the film progressed, it doesn’t really add much to the movie by its end. I think the character could have still hit similar beats without it, considering she cared about her sister’s children prior to the Deadites appearing.

I also thought some of the characters really did some dumb things that frustrated and annoyed me. I get that it’s a horror trope and that’s how things move forward in these films. But as I get older, the more my eyes roll at some of these characters’ antics. Even at a young age, I was never that naive at the presence of danger.

Despite a cool prologue and some awesome title cards, I thought the last few minutes felt oddly placed within the structure of the film. I get why it’s there as a way to explain what we saw first and how this will probably lead to more installments. But it fell kind of flat for me, especially that jump scare at the end. 

And like I mentioned earlier, the film doesn’t really push the envelope enough and feels the tamest and safest of the EVIL DEAD films. I was expecting something more violent and gorier and it just played out like your standard horror flick. What we get is great, but the other EVIL DEAD movies stand out due to the insane amount of blood, Deadite action and energy when it comes to the hero against the Deadites. When the energy does pop off, I feel it’s a bit late getting there and there’s not much time devoted to it. I just feel EVIL DEAD RISE doesn’t take enough chances.


Although it’s my least favorite entry in this franchise, EVIL DEAD RISE is still a solid addition to the EVIL DEAD series. Director Lee Cronin understood the assignment, including things that fans of the franchise would expect or enjoy, while still keeping this installment as its own thing apart from the rest. Having the events started by the
Naturom Demonto take place inside a high-rise building within an urban environment is a great fresh take for the series, even though I think more could have been done with the location. Same goes for the characters, who while likable, could have used a bit more depth and aren’t as memorable as Ash or Mia before them. But the cast is wonderful, especially Lily Sullivan as heroine Beth and Alyssa Sutherland as one of the more memorable Deadites in the franchise in Ellie. While I wish this installment had pushed the envelope more in some aspects, it’s still a fun movie and a worthy entry in the world of EVIL DEAD. Let’s see where they go with things in the next one, if that box office is any indication.


3 Howls Outta 4

(8 out of 10)


The Pope's Exorcist (2023)

Julius Avery

Russell Crowe - Father Gabriele Amorth
Daniel Zovatto - Father Esquibel
Alex Essoe - Julia
Franco Nero - The Pope
Laurel Marsden - Amy
Peter DeSouza-Feighoney - Henry

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller/Possession/Demons

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Based on true stories. Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican, investigates a young boy’s terrifying possession and ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden.


If you watched the trailer to THE POPE’S EXORCIST and thought that you’ve seen this film time and time before, you would be correct as this 2023 movie is as generic as they come where it concerns possession films. All the tropes are there - an innocent child getting possessed by a demon, the family taking the possessed victim to doctors to realize it’s not a medical issue, two priests with flaws trying to vanquish this demon to save the child and protect the victim’s family, and even a priest begging the demon to possess them in order to save the child. I swore I’ve seen this movie before. Did Sony really try to upstage David Gordon Green’s THE EXORCIST reboot/sequel before its release this October? Sneaky sneaky, Sony.

Seriously, THE POPE’S EXORCIST could and probably should have gone straight to streaming since it doesn’t really add anything new to this type of horror sub-genre, especially when a more hyped film with a similar theme is coming out later in the year. The only reason it didn’t is because of Oscar winner Russell Crowe, who is the best part of this movie with an entertaining performance as the title character. The actor is clearly having fun playing a priest who gets to face off against demons [both physical and personal], performing all the tropes with a smile on his face and a wink to the audience. He gets to speak multiple languages. He gets to play both good and evil. Crowe could have really coasted with THE POPE’S EXORCIST, but he totally has his heart in the role and he elevates a by-the-numbers horror film into something more watchable than it deserves.

And even though the film is obviously about good triumphing over evil through faith and love in God, I appreciated that THE POPE’S EXORCIST criticizes some aspects of the Church at certain points. Superiors want to eliminate the process of exorcisms, feeling they’re old hat. But Father Gabriele questions that if they do that, what’s the point of spreading the word of good against evil? Also, the two lead priests have things in their past that affect their progress during the exorcism, giving us a look that even these so-called “saints” struggle and succumb to sin just like the rest of us. It’s refreshing to see a movie that’s focused on religion and faith being this powerful thing to let in some negativity on the Church and some of the people that work for it. So the film gets points for that.

Unfortunately, since the film is mainly focused on Father Gabriele and Father Esquibel, the story doesn’t allow the audience to really know the family of the possessed child. Other than the fact that the family is dealing with grief over the death of their husband/father and are in Spain to sell inherited property [that just happens to have been part of the Spanish Inquisition], not much is really known about them. Unlike the McNeils in THE EXORCIST, The Montellis in AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION, or even Emily Rose in THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, the audience has no real attachment to the victims. That takes away tension and suspense because I honestly didn’t care what would happen, while at the same time knowing that good would triumph because that’s what these films tell us. It’s a shame because their performances were pretty good, especially Alex Essoe as the mother and Peter DeSouza-Feighoney as the young possessed boy, Henry. But I’ve seen these similar roles performed better in other films, and that’s due to the script.

The direction by Julius Avery is fine, but nothing memorable. If you’ve seen other possession horror films, you know what you’re getting here. There’s nothing new in terms of style or presentation. Tension and suspense isn’t really there. Jump scares don’t really work, at least not on me. The CGI gets pretty heavy during the final act and that’s actually used quite well for the most part. But to be honest with you, I watched THE POPE’S EXORCIST two days ago and I barely remember anything that stuck out from the visual presentation. Pretty on-the-nose stuff here.


A pretty generic exorcism movie, THE POPE’S EXORCIST only really manages to stand out due to a fun Russell Crowe performance as the title character. While the rest of the cast are decent, Crowe steals the show in every scene he’s in and truly seems to be enjoying himself since he knows what type of movie he’s acting in and embraces it. The film is also elevated by a not-so black and white look at the Church, the flawed priests and the superiors’ stance on exorcisms back in the day that makes one question if they believed evil could possess good people or not. Other than that, every trope you need in an exorcism story is here and you won’t be surprised by the lack of suspense, tension and scares because you know exactly where things are going. Even the visual presentation by Julius Avery is by-the-numbers, despite a good use of CGI in the film’s final act. THE POPE’S EXORCIST is watchable fluff not worth getting possessed over.

2 Howls Outta 4
(6 out of 10)


Scream VI (2023)


Matt Bettinelli-Olpin

Tyler Gillett


Melissa Barrera - Sam Carpenter

Jasmin Savoy Brown - Mindy Meeks-Martin

Jenna Ortega - Tara Carpenter

Mason Gooding - Chad Meeks-Martin

Jack Champion - Ethan Landry

Liana Liberato - Quinn Bailey

Dermot Mulroney - Wayne Bailey

Hayden Panettiere - Kirby Reed

Courteney Cox - Gale Weathers

Devyn Nekoda - Anika Kayoko

Josh Segarra - Danny Brackett

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Mystery/Slasher

Running Time: 123 Minutes


Following the latest Ghostface killings, the four survivors leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter in New York City.


Despite an eleven-year absence from movie theaters and a lack of Wes Craven [due to his unfortunate passing in 2015], 2022’s SCREAM proved to be a bigger success than expected. Doing much better than 2011’s SCREAM 4, the box office gross surprised analysts and proved that Paramount picked up a franchise that was ready to be revived again. Using the idea of re-quels and featuring the main legacy characters of the series to help push new stories along for a newer cast, most audiences enjoyed the return to Woodsboro and wanted more.

As soon as SCREAM (2022) made a quick profit, Paramount wasted no time in greenlighting the next installment. There was a lot of hype for this one for many reasons. One, the characters were leaving Woodsboro for New York City, taking the series into a major metropolitan for the first time in the franchise. Two, there were talks of Ghostface being a much scarier and more violent villain in the big city, upping some stakes. And three, not only would Courteney Cox return as Gale Weathers, but Hayden Panettiere would make her awaited return as Kirby Reed - a character long thought dead but revealed to be very much alive in an Easter Egg in SCREAM (2022).

However, the buzz turned from excitement to worry. Due to a disagreement over pay, series’ star Neve Campbell would be bowing out of this installment. Feeling she wasn’t being paid what she was worth [and I have to agree with her kinda], she refused to take part in the sequel. I’m not sure if Sydney Prescott had a big role or Kirby was her replacement, but it became a test to see if the SCREAM franchise could survive without Sydney.

Luckily in my opinion, I think the lack of Sydney actually benefits SCREAM VI since I think it’s the best installment since, at least, SCREAM 2. Hell, I think I put it above even that sequel, as this movie was just a blast from beginning to end. While I love the series, I’m not a big fanboy like many of my friends are. How I am with the HALLOWEEN franchise [those KILLS and ENDS debates, how fun were those] is how many are with SCREAM and this installment has been no stranger to a divide amongst fans. Personally, this was the first SCREAM film I had a lot of fun with watching since the first movie back in 1996 and would definitely watch this again whenever I get the chance.

I think what made SCREAM VI a fun experience were better written characters I can finally have an attachment to. Let’s be serious here - besides the original group from the first film, did we really care about a lot of these characters? Sure, some snuck in to win our hearts for a bit before getting killed off by Ghostface. But none I really cared about, including most of the new group from the last film. I think only Tara and Mindy were the ones I really connected with, while the others were just there for me. Even Samantha, who has a great backstory being Billy Loomis’ daughter and her struggle with that, didn’t do a whole lot for me because of how she was presented. Maybe it’s because the film wanted to focus a bit on the legacy characters that Samantha didn’t really get to do her thing until the very end of SCREAM (2022). I liked the new group of characters enough, but not to the point where I was concerned if they survived or not.

That changes in SCREAM VI. Without the shadow of Sydney, and even Dewey, the “Core Four” that survived SCREAM (2022) are allowed to breathe and flesh out into characters we can finally care about. Samantha is much more interesting this time around. Not only is she struggling with the trauma of the previous film’s events, but she’s fighting the instinct of becoming her father’s daughter, slowly gaining this thirst for violence and murder. She’s also smothering her sister Tara, who is dealing with her own massive trauma by partying and lashing out at those around her. Tara also manages to flesh out Chad, as they both have feelings for each other, having grown closer since SCREAM (2022). Chad has grown a lot, as he’s the Big Brother and Enforcer of the Core Four and does his best to protect his girls. And Mindy is still awesome, leaning more into Randy Meeks territory while also afraid of being attacked by Ghostface again and doing everything she can to get away from anyone she considers a suspect.

The other characters aren’t as interesting, but some come close. The best one is probably Danny, who is Samantha’s neighbor and boyfriend. He seems like a decent guy, but you’re never really sure in these films. And the return of both Gale and Kirby are pretty great. Gale is dealing with her trauma of losing Dewey by resorting to her old journalistic ways - writing books on the pain of others to make a buck. And Kirby is now an FBI Agent, but seems to be hiding things from the others for some reason. Hmm…

And Ghostface - man, this is the most terrifying portrayal ever. This version of the horror villain does not play at all. Even though Ghostface has a main target, he or she or they have no qualms hurting and murdering people in the way of their goal. Guns or knives - it doesn’t matter how long as the job is done. It was nice having an intimidating Ghostface for once.

SCREAM VI is also a movie where I didn’t figure out the mystery completely. I won’t say how many killers this film has, but I didn’t solve the whole puzzle - which was refreshing. I didn’t see the motive coming either, which I thought was a nice connective tissue to the previous movies. I usually figure out all the killers in these SCREAM movies, so having one where I didn’t see the whole picture was actually fun.

The script isn’t perfect though. There are plot holes all over this film, which I didn’t really think about while watching it. But reflecting back on the movie, yeah, it does things that shouldn’t make sense honestly. The final act feels very rushed and clumsy at times, even though it’s still a blast to watch it all go down. And yeah, people get hurt really badly in this movie. But they can get stabbed a thousand times in vital spots on the body, yet still make it out alive for the next film. I get the writers are attached to these characters and are scared to kill some of them off, but there should have been a higher body count by the sixth movie. I mean, this takes place in New York City! How did Woodsboro get a higher kill count?

The direction by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett is very good. While I wish the NYC location was used more than it was, the subway sequence and certain moments inside apartments, where neighbors can see what’s going on, were used very effectively. In fact, the tension was raised big time in SCREAM VI, as a lot of the chase sequences were suspenseful as hell and gave me a bit of anxiety at times. The bodega scene, a sequence involving a ladder between two apartment windows, Gale’s confrontation with Ghostface and the train sequence all had moments where I couldn’t look away because I was so tense. While not overly scary, SCREAM VI is the first film in a while where I felt the filmmakers were trying to unsettle the audience. I also liked the cool twist on the usual opening sequence and just the level of blocking during many of the scenes to create a thrilling experience. For a two-hour movie, SCREAM VI felt much shorter because I was given feelings I hadn’t felt during a SCREAM movie in a long time.

The cast is wonderful as well. The “Core Four” actors are a lot better and more comfortable this time around. Jenna Ortega continues her streak as horror’s “It Girl” with a layered performance as Tara, while Jasmin Savoy Brown still brings the comedy and geekiness as Mindy. Mason Gooding gets more to do as Chad, making his character more likable than in the last film. Melissa Barrera, however, feels like a different actress here than she did in 2022’s SCREAM. Maybe it’s more character development and screen time, or just feeling more comfortable in the role. But I really enjoyed Barrera here and she proved worthy of carrying this franchise as the series’ lead for as long as they’ll have her.

The rest of the cast is solid. I enjoyed Josh Segarra as Sam’s new love interest, Danny. Hayden Panettiere makes a welcome return as Kirby. Panettiere plays the role a bit differently this time around, which I won’t spoil how, but it’s nice seeing her here. Courteney Cox also had some great moments as Gail Weathers, especially since she was able to stand on her own without Neve Campbell or David Arquette taking away some of the spotlight.


Who knew SCREAM VI would be my favorite installment of this slasher franchise in a very long time? Despite the much talked about absence of Neve Campbell, the film actually seems all the better without her presence included. Underdeveloped characters from 2022’s SCREAM actually get arcs that flesh them out in ways that we actually like and root for them. The New York City locale could have been used a bit more, but it’s a great change of scenery from your standard suburban Woodsboro. We have a Ghostface character who takes no prisoners, managing to be brutal and unrelenting to the point where you actually fear him or her (or them). And for a two-hour movie, it felt shorter than some of the other installments. Radio Silence did a great job directing this movie, actually bringing tons of tension and suspense to the point where I actually feared for some of these characters. And the younger cast feel more confident and actually get things to do, especially Melissa Barrera who actually gets to play a lead character that I wouldn’t mind being the center of this newer trilogy. I also thought the returns of Courteney Cox and Hayden Panettiere were fun additions. Despite some plot holes and an annoying tendency to play it too safe with protecting characters - a more brutal Ghostface should have had a higher body count - I think SCREAM VI is the best installment since the first one. Or at least, it’s on par with SCREAM 2, which this film clearly pays a great homage to. Since this movie made a lot of money, we’re clearly getting another one. Hopefully SCREAM VII continues the upward momentum and takes more risks.


3.5 Howls Outta 4

(9 out of 10)

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