The Movie-Obsessed Horror Franchise Is Spinning NYC
The end of a Shout the movie is still the best part. It’s what you expected: the reveal of who is behind this now iconic mask and why they are targeting Woodsboro teens. Cry VI, however, goes against this trend. It has a great ending to be sure (don’t worry, we’re not even going to spoil it) but what really stands out is that the rest of the movie is almost as good, if not better. There are at least four settings in the film that rival the ending in terms of scares and surprises, making for a much more balanced film than what we’re used to seeing in the franchise.
Cry VI comes from the same team who brought us last year Shout Vwhich includes screenwriters Guy Busick and Jamie Vanderbilt and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, so there’s a lot of what made this movie good for him. Great new characters, clever dialogue, brutal kills, and most importantly, a really, really good understanding of what fans love about the franchise. Events pick up a year after the last film with sisters Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega) having moved to New York with siblings Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding). They’re also joined by new friends, like Chad’s roommate Ethan (Jack’s Champion), Mindy’s girlfriend Anika (Devyn Nekoda), another roommate named Quinn (Liana Liberato), and Sam’s crush Danny (Josh Segarra) among them. In pure Shout way, they all become suspects after the killings begin. Murders a little too close to Sam and Tara for it to be a coincidence.
From the first scene of Cry VI you can tell it’s going to be different. Yes, as usual, a famous actor is killed after receiving a phone call from Ghostface before the title card. What is a Shout movie if he doesn’t have that? But about a minute or two later, something seems off. You just know it’s not going the way it should. Shortly after, the film justifies this choice. It then takes another twist or two and pretty soon you have no idea what’s going on. And that’s just the opening.
This uncertainty continues throughout the film because a) this is what Shout movies do, and b) this Shout the film takes place during Halloween. So when Ghostface returns, Sam, Tara and the crew not only have to worry about who the killer is, but where the killer is. Ghostface masks are starting to appear everywhere, adding fear and tension to crowded stages, as well as quiet ones. Moreover, all of this is reinforced because it Shoutas expected, has a clever and relatable thematic focus that makes it more modern than even its 2022 predecessor. Shout movies may have overdone their concepts about fame or social media or toxic fandom, this one really undercuts that hook, using it to create more mystery instead of preachy.
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Because, as we said, the bulk of the movie is about really awesome, exciting, and intense set pieces that utilize the franchise’s brand-new New York City setting. So there’s one on a subway car. There’s one in a teeny tiny apartment. Another is in a huge, expensive townhouse, while yet another is at a trendy bar. All of these sequences unfold with a controlled chaos that keeps you on the edge of your seat, because from moment to moment you aren’t quite sure how, or even if, the characters will survive. Somehow, the size and feel of New York City have made everyone equally expendable.
Along with the kids, there’s a new police officer played by Dermot Mulroney, Courteney Cox is back as legacy character Gail Weathers, and there’s also the return of Kirby, played by Hayden Panettiere. She’s the movie obsessed survivor from the fourth movie whose fate had only been mentioned before. Now, 10 years later, Kirby is doing something else. Something that has nothing to do with the movies. And there is also a good example where Cry VI goes against expectations. Where the first five films were very, very driven by movies and film culture around every corner, Cry VI is not. Yeah, there’s a scene where Mindy breaks down what type of movie they’re in, and of course the killer collects in-universe props Shout-equivalent deductible Stabbut that’s just the dressing, not the main course.
Instead, the focus is on how these kids are going to survive another Ghostface killer, who is the Ghostface killer, and is that one of them? This eventual reveal is solid, but by the time it happens, you almost don’t care because Cry VI gave you so much to think about and consider besides horror, action and tension. In this way, Cry VI stands out from the rest of the franchise. It’s a fuller movie, a (slightly) more subtle movie, and certainly a more surprising movie throughout rather than at the end. At the end of a Shout the movie is not the best part of a Shout movie, it’s a refreshing and welcome change of pace and Cry VI book.
Cry VI hits theaters March 10.
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