Movie reviews: ‘Scream VI’ Ghostface is back in another bloody adventure


2023-03-10 18:31:00


This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Melissa Barrera, left, and Jenna Ortega in a scene from “Scream VI.” (Philippe Bossé/Paramount Pictures via AP)Ghostface is back, kicking and screaming—and stabbing, punching and shot-gunning—in another bloody adventure where real life imitates the reel life of slasher movies. Like the other entries in the franchise “Scream VI,” now playing in theatres, sets out to deconstruct slasher movies, but actually delivers the gory slasher goods.

Set following the events of the 2022’s “Scream,” the new film moves the action out of Woodsboro, California, site of the previous Ghostface killings, to New York City at Halloween. The “core four,” the survivors of Ghostface’s latest rampage—sisters Samantha and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) and twins Chad and Mindy Meeks (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown)—hightailed it across the country to attend school and put the past behind them, but trauma has a way of following a person.

Sam, who killed her boyfriend Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid) when she discovered he was a Ghostface killer, in love with her simply because she is the daughter of the original killer in the screaming mask, is now seeking treatment, but admits, stabbing him 22 times, slitting his throat, and shooting him in the head, “felt right.”

No spoilers here, but suffice to say, the movie follows the “rules” laid out by film student Mindy: Rule one: As the franchise ages, the movies will get bigger. Rule two: Expect the opposite of last time. Rule three: Legacy characters and main characters are cannon fodder. No one is safe.

“Scream VI” feels fresher than you would expect from an almost thirty-year-old movie franchise. A rotating cast of new and old faces helps with that, providing new stories wrapped in nostalgia, but it also has something to do with the franchise’s desire to entertain at almost any cost.

This one is a tightly knit, if familiar-ish, story, amped up with gorier-than-usual killings—I’m sure I saw intestines!—and what Alfred Hitchcock would have called a “refrigerator climax.” That means it seems to make sense while you are watching it, but later, when you’re standing in front of the fridge looking for something to eat, and your mind drifts back to the film, you realize just how preposterous it was. The Grand-Guignol ending is over the top, but hey, remember rule number one?

“Scream VI” doesn’t exactly slash a new path for the franchise, but the expected mix of humor, gore and self-reverence and its willingness to be silly and kinda tense at the same earns it a recommend.


This image released by Focus Features shows Woody Harrelson in a scene from “Champions.” (Focus Features via AP)In Hollywood, the last name Farrelly comes with expectations. As a duo, the Farrelly brothers, Peter and Bobby, were mainstays of big-screen gross-out comedies with titles like “Me, Myself & Irene” and “There’s Something About Mary” decorating their IMDB page.

On his own, eldest brother Peter scored big with “Green Book,” an earnest film whose depiction of race relations in 1960s America won three Oscars, but was a step away from the kind of work that made him famous.

This weekend, younger brother Bobby strikes out on his own with “Champions.” A remake of a 2018 Goya Award winning Spanish film, the new version starring Woody Harrelson, now playing in theatres, is neither as funny as his early work or as Oscar-baity as his brother’s solo debut.

The action begins at a J League, Iowa Stallions basketball game. The clock is counting down when Coach Phil (Ernie Hudson) makes a call that irks assistant coach, and basketball know-it-all Marcus (Harrelson).

“He knows the game better than anyone I’ve ever known or played with,” says Phil, “but he doesn’t know the players.”

As usual, the hot-headed Marcus lets his temper gets the best of him and he pushes Phil to the ground. Fired, he drowns his sorrows at a bar, gets arrested and is sentenced to ninety days Community Service coaching the “Friends,” a b’ball team of adults with intellectual disabilities at a local rec center.

With an eye toward competing in the Special Olympics, Marcus teaches the team as they teach him to see the players for who they really are, and not just for their skill set on the court.

“Champions” is a very specific story about Marcus’s redemption via a team that teaches him the true meaning of what it means to be a team, but in its specificity, it becomes an open-hearted, universal tale of the power of respect and acceptance. And fart and barf gags because, this is, after all, a Farrelly movie.

It is also a Farrelly movie in the way it treats its characters. The film was shot in Manitoba and cast through St. Amant, a non-profit organization that works with Manitobans who live with developmental disabilities and autism. Echoing past movies like “Stuck on You” and “There’s Something About Mary,” Farrelly wisely makes the young actors who make up the team the film’s beating heart. He treats them with respect while allowing them to carry a large part of the story.

Even though the story was inspired by the Aderes team in Burjassot who won twelve Spanish championships between 1999 and 2014, “Champions” is predictable. You can guess that, win or lose, Marcus will be as affected by the team as they are by him, so it’s about the journey, not the destination, and Farrelly has cast well, choosing actors we get invested in. Harrelson brings edge and warmth, and Kaitlin Olson, as Marcus’s sorta-kinda love interest has edge and compassion. Everyone in the film is a champion in their own way but it is the Friends who make this a winning film.


“I Like Movies,” a coming-of-age story set against a background of angst, anxiety and Paul Thomas Anderson, is a period piece set in a time when local Blockbusters were shrines for suburban film lovers.

Set in 2003, in Burlington, Ontario, a small city midway between Toronto and Niagara Falls, the film centers around teenage film bro and wannabe moviemaker Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen). Arrogant and insecure, he allows his love of film, dream of attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and anxiety alienate the most important people in his life.

His life is changed when he gets a job at Sequels, a cheekily-named video store in his hometown. He’s there for the ten free weekly rentals available to employees and to recommend obscure art films to folks who would rather watch “Shrek.”

The job, of course, isn’t exactly what Lawrence hoped it would be. At the insistence of his manager Alana (Romina D’Ugo) he is forced to wear a sash, emblazed with the titles of movies he thinks are beneath him. And, let’s face it, learning to rotate stock in the drink cooler is about as far from movie making as you can get.

As the summer ends so does the dream of attending NYU, forcing Lawrence, with the help of his frazzled mother (Krista Bridges) and some tough love from Alana, to rethink his movie dreams and confront reality.

Part work-place comedy—think “High Fidelity” only set in a video store—part character study, “I Like Movies” is sweet-natured, funny film that digs deep to make us feel empathy for Lawrence, a socially awkward character who hides his real feelings behind a facade of bluster and pretension.

Lawrence is not a likable character, at least not when we first meet him, and yet director and screenwriter Chandler Levack—who worked in at a Blockbuster Video as a teen—inspires empathy for him. His arrogant bluster stems from insecurity, and the more we get to know about him, the more we feel for him even as he drones on about Paul Thomas Anderson or Stanley Kubrick. As Alana pushes him to reevaluate his attitudes and look at life beyond the screen, Lehtinen allows us to see the wheels turning inside the character’s head as his redemption looms.

Strong performances, particularly from Lehtinen and D’Ugo, and a genuinely heartfelt script make this take on adolescent angst (and film bros) a winning debut for Levack.


We’ve all seen boy and his dog movies about the deep relationship between humans and animals like “White Fang” and the simply named “Dog,” with Channing Tatum and a Belgian Malinois.

“Blueback,” a new Australian family picture starting Mia Wasikowska and now playing in theatres, mines similar territory, but this time it’s the story of a girl, her blue groper and the love of the ocean.

Wasikowska is marine biologist Abby who grew up exploring the ocean around the coast of her Western Australian childhood home. “We were born in the water,” says her mother Dora (Elizabeth Alexander).

When Dora suffers a debilitating stroke that leaves her unable to speak, Abby returns home. Hoping a return to the sea will aid in Dora’s recovery, they travel to the coast.

From here, the story toggles between Abby’s childhood and the discovery of a rare blue groper—the Blueback of the title—that inspired the eco-activism that shaped her life, and the present day.

“Blueback” is a well-intentioned but heavy-handed film that mixes-and-matches mother and daughter dynamics with messages about the fragility of marine environments and the importance of conservationism. The movie’s main thrusts are intertwined and, unfortunately, overexplained. Repetition and excessive exposition blunt the movie’s mission somewhat, despite fine performances from Wasikowska and Radha Mitchell, who plays Dora in the flashbacks.

The film’s storytelling deficiencies, however, are alleviated somewhat by beautiful underwater photography and the urgency of the conservation messaging.

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