This preview contains some spoilers for Scream (2022).

Well, that didn’t take long at all. Just one year ago, slasher enthusiasts were anticipating the arrival of 2022’s Scream, promising to be the most radical shift in style for the franchise, as it was the first not to be directed by the late Wes Craven. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (part of the collective Radio Silence) stepped into the director chairs. They did, in fact, inject their noticeable imprint onto the Scream formula, replete with their unique brand of humor, which fit with a modern vernacular of how film geeks discuss their favorite franchises. The film was a major success and one of the highest-grossing movies we’ve seen in the subgenre. But the horror sequel, which riffed on the era of Requels/Legacyquels, was also a mixed bag, with telegraphed foreshadowing, an underwhelming and at times moronic 3rd act, as well as a few flat-out bad ideas. Force Ghost Billy Loomis is one of the worst plot devices of 2022, and you can’t convince me otherwise. It was as if they said, “You know how everyone hated the fake Maureen Prescott scene in Scream 3? Let’s do that, but worse.” Yet, that doesn’t mean I’m not optimistic about Scream VI. Slasher fans are used to coming back to the well many times.

Also, there are good reasons to be an optimist as this new squadron of cast and crew. Despite my misgivings about the 5th film, they have loads of talent and all the ability to improve on the 2022 effort. The few production details we’ve received in the past few months have been nothing but promising. For starters, Scream VI is ditching the fictional town of Woodsboro (THANK GOD!!!) and changing the setting to the Big Apple. Now, with just taking a glimpse at Scream discussion online, I firmly believe every “Jason Takes Manhattan” joke will be played out by the time the new year rolls around, which doesn’t sound encouraging for the proceeding three months, as cinephiles struggle to find new ways to make the gag sound original. But let’s not let another rundown meme impede our enthusiasm, as the first true look at Scream VI is here, and it is beyond enticing:

So, that was definitely enough to whet the appetite. But I must admit that Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Scream VI is roping me back into the franchise. Here, the survivors of the previous film have abandoned Woodsboro and run as far away as possible. The New York setting means this is the first in the series to take place on the east coast and only the second installment (joining Scream 2) to occur outside California. It’s eery seeing such large crowds, on presumably Halloween night, knowing the bloody mayhem that will follow the jovial festivities. Also worth noting is that this trailer has more costumes than the entire runtime of Halloween Ends. What does a Ghostface murder spree look like in the boroughs of New York? How will the dense population impact how the killer stalks and corners their victims? Finally, in a tempting bit of stunt casting, will the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah appear in the one movie cameo we absolutely need in 2023?

We can’t answer those questions at present. What we do know is this cast is stacked. Fan favorite Kirby (Hayden Panettiere), the best aspect of Scream 4, is returning and may match wits with Randy Meek’s niece and fellow film nerd Mindy (Jasmin Savoy-Brown). Also, given the wild headlines Panettiere and her significant other have produced in the last year, it’ll be a nice change of pace to see her involved in some fictional violence. Then there’s the inclusion of Samara Weaving, who teamed with Radio Silence for Ready or Not, back here to dominate the screen in whatever role she’s playing. Weaving was originally in talks for the 5th entry before plans fell through, so it’s a blessing that she’s here to join a bigger and badder sequel.

Oh yeah, we have Jenna Ortega. You might have heard of her, who stole all of her scenes in the previous Scream and who’s just been on a fucking heater throughout 2022. At this point, Ortega is probably overqualified for anything other than “main” in this movie. Rounding out the cast is Melissa Barrera and Mason Gooding. Oh, and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is back to do Gale Weathers things. Although, it’s getting awkward at this point. This is a character who probably should have been killed off two movies ago and whose story arc peaked about four films ago. I mean, good on her for being down for more slasher stuff, given that she could collect Friends checks until the end of time, but she’s going to be our featured legacy character whose mortality is in doubt.

There is the elephant in the room to address, which is the absence of Neve Campbell/Sydney Prescott. Campbell and the studio, now infamously, couldn’t agree on a salary, thus making way for her exit. It’s important to note that Scream 5 declaratively positioned Campbell out of the role of the main character, making her absence in VI an easier transition. Yet, she does represent a major part of the identity, the DNA of Scream. So in her place, the filmmakers will have to continue to build a new identity. Besides, at this point, everyone tethered to the Scream movies of yesteryear are pretty much gone. I mean, who’s left? There’s Kevin Williamson, Monica Geller, and Roger L. Jackson. That’s about it. It’s a franchise in transition, and the faces are changing in front of and behind the camera. The only thing you can hope for is that the new caretakers will uphold and honor what has worked so well in the past while moving the series forward in fresh directions. And given the immense talent involved, this generation has earned the benefit of the doubt. But if I see Ghost Dad back on the screen, I will have to start throwing hands.

Scream VI opens worldwide on March 10, 2023.