Can Scream 6 Succeed Where Friday the 13th Failed?

Ghostface is back for Scream 6, along with Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera. But as the movie leaves Sydney Prescott to move to New York, Scream is haunted by the specter of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

Ghostface strikes
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Let’s be honest, part of being a horror fan is dealing with disappointment. How many times have we been given an amazing trailer, something that promises wall-to-wall scares, only to have a lazy feature hoisted upon us? For every The Exorcist or Alien, movies that delivered on the promise of their shocking teasers, there’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark or It Chapter Two, cool trailers for disappointing movies.

One of the most famous quality chasms involves a legend of horror cinema, Jason Voorhees. The trailer for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan mostly consists of a single shot of Jason from behind, staring up at the NY skyline. After a series of quick cuts showing people screaming in terror, the voice over declares, “Now, New York has a new problem.” Perfect, right? Unfortunately, the actual movie mostly consists of Jason hunting down an exceptionally dull set of teens on a boat, and only arrives in New York for the final 30 minutes. And of course, New York is actually Vancouver.

Makers of perhaps the world’s most film-literate franchise, the producers of Scream 6 surely know about bad movie trailers and especially the disappointment of Friday VIII. So instead, the teaser for the latest installment steers away from big promises and instead gives us a well-crafted scare sequence.

The trailer opens on a subway car, carrying the four surviving members of the last film’s young cast: Jasmin Savoy Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin (niece of Jamie Kennedy’s character Randy Meeks), Mason Gooding as her brother Chad Meeks-Martin, Melissa Barrera as Sam Carpenter (daughter of original killer Billy Loomis), and Jenna Ortega as Sam’s half-sister Tara. The quartet seem to be enjoying some carefree laughs on Halloween night when Sam notices that some of the people in the car are dressed like Ghostface. The tension grows when one of the Ghostfaces turns their head to stare directly at the teens.

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To heighten the tension, the trailer intercuts reaction shots from the terrified kids with white text on black background displaying the movie’s tagline — “In a city of millions, no one hears you scream” — timed with blackout moments on the journey. And each time the lights go up, Ghostface gets closer, until they lung at Mindy.

It’s a nicely-made moment that takes advantage of the movie’s premise. Where the previous five entries have largely taken place in Woodsboro, California, the hometown of protagonist Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), this one moves to the Big Apple. The trailer also highlights the franchise’s metatextual roots, as we see people dressed like familiar monsters, including the Wolfman, Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses, and, of course, Jason Voorhees himself.

But as exciting as the trailer is, it also highlights the biggest problem facing this new film. Although the movie adds exciting actors like Samara Weaving and Tony Revolori, and brings back fan-favorite Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) from Scream 4, it loses Sydney after Campbell left the project because of Paramount’s low contract offer.

Whether or not Scream 6 can retain its magic without Sydney remains to be seen. But as long as we spend most of the movie in New York, and not on a freaking boat, then it will at least be better than Friday the 13th Part VIII.