4K Blu-ray Review: Scream 6 Limited Edition Steelbook

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Scream is a horror franchise I grew up with and was old enough to fully appreciate for both its homage and satire to the horror genre, but also not old enough to see theatrically when the first film released in 1996. I remember really wanting to see it, but I was only 15 at the time and I never felt comfortable sneaking into a movie so I never tried.

Well, that’s not true, the only time I ever did try was with the Dustin Hoffman film Outbreak, which came out a year prior to Scream, and that wasn’t even rated R in Canada, it was 14A (basically the equivalent of PG-13 in the States, only you had to be at least 14 to get in), and while I was only 13 at the time, I was turning 14 six months later so I thought I’d be safe. Oh, how wrong I was! For some crazy reason after I took my seat someone working at the theater came over to me, asked for my ID and asked me to leave. Needless to say, if I couldn’t pass as a 14-year-old at 13, I had little desire to try my luck in a film rated with a hard R.

So both Scream and Scream 2 came and went theatrically, and I’d have to wait to rent them on VHS. Luckily, with no social media I was able to avoid spoilers; however, once Scream 3 was announced I was excited to finally get to go see a Scream film in theaters – only for the rating to be dropped to 14A. That was just cruel. Alas, I’ve come to terms with the fact that ever since I became old enough to see them theatrically, horror films were almost never rated R in Canada, even though their violence continues to escalate. This was the case with Scream 6, which was also rated 14A, and often finds ways to put the violence previously showcased in the franchise to shame.

Speaking of case, Scream 6 also gets a fantastically creepy Steelbook that takes the teaser poster image from the marketing campaign and uses it for the cover. It’s a great shot and not only grabs the eye, but also instantly sets this Scream apart from its processors by highlighting not only the location, but the damaged Ghostface mask. Here we see Ghostface looking through the window of a door of a New York subway train, and that’s it. There’s no title, no taglines, no cast, nothing. It’s just Ghostface looking scary as hell while brandishing a knife on a subway train. There are scuffs and scratches on the window itself, so while it may seem like the Steelbook you pick up is damaged, odds are the marks are just part of the art.

Scream cover

On the back we’ve got another nod to the setting of the film, with Ghostface’s weapon of choice sticking out of an apple. The apple looks to be on the road, or pavement of some sort, and instead of juice coming from the wound, it’s blood. I do think the apple is a bit too shiny and glossy, and almost looks as though it’s a candy apple, but as a whole I do like the idea, I love the blood dripping from the green leaf, and I love the streetlight shining down on the scene, with a New York mist in the air. I feel like they’re going for a brighter, bloody looking colour, but I think at least taking the sheen off the skin or simply going all in with blood coming out to coat the majority of it would’ve helped, but that’s nit-picking and overall it’s a cool idea.

Screm back

My favourite part of all Steelbooks is the art on the inside, or at least the anticipation to what scene or art could’ve been chosen to represent the film on the slipcase within. Often it’s a scene from the movie that fits across two pages, so that when you open it up it reveals the widescreen shot; however, there are also times when promotional work is used. I only had a couple of ideas of scenes from the film that would’ve worked, but instead we have a much cooler shot of Ghostface looking over at the viewer on the left slipcover, with some of New York behind him, and when you remove the discs we see more of the city, with what looks to be a storm on the horizon. Just an absolutely awesome shot and decision to use this, as it’s so much cooler than simply taking a scene from the movie, even though a couple would’ve worked nicely too.

Scream No Disc

As a whole this is a Steelbook that fans will want to add to their collection, as it really just screams…well, Scream. Taking the worn down, cracking Ghostface mask from the film and putting it front and center on the train looks awesome. The interior slipcase is perfection, and the back is a cool idea that could’ve been touched up a bit more to perfect the idea they were going for, but overall works well enough that it doesn’t detract points from the product. We’ll get into the review of the movie itself now, but I definitely recommend hunting this Steelbook down before it escapes!

Scream Discs

Much like the quick releases of the 1996 original and its sequel in 1997, the series requel (reboot/sequel) in 2022’s Scream and its follow-up Scream 6 also arrived only a year apart. The difference here is that there was a plan that the writers (James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick) and directors (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett) had in place for their story, but they had to quickly change course after Neve Campbell dropped out due to a salary dispute. It’s not clear how big a role Sidney would have had, but the loss of such a beloved franchise character – or the franchise character, to be exact – put pressure on the creative team to not rely so heavily on nostalgia, which actually makes Scream 6 a stronger, better movie.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant idea to combine the old with the new in the 2022 requel, but I honestly never expected Neve or Gale to return after that movie, or at least expected Gale to be killed in the opening scene to kick things off with a bang. Some may have found that disrespectful to the character, but at this point it’s actually a great way to up the stakes instantly in a new installment. I thought that the rub the new characters got from the legacy characters in 2022 was enough to move forward with, and the loss of Neve in this film put that to the test – and everyone succeeded on all fronts.

With the decision to focus on the “core four,” and pushing them as our new protagonists, Scream 6 adds a needed depth to these four characters that wasn’t really established prior. I mean, Scream (2022) did a solid job of introducing Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) and her connection with the Scream-verse being Billy Loomis’s daughter. This was a fantastic that was executed really well by Sam having a darker side that was always looming over her shoulder (no semi-pun intended) that she couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with. In the latest film she’s still trying to deal with her darker thoughts and all that’s happened, and Barrera really steps up her game and succeeds at becoming the main protagonist and focus of the story.

The rest of the “core four” consists of Sam’s sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), and her brother, Chad (Mason Gooding). While Ortega was brilliant in the 2022 release, being the one who was most heavily relied on to exude fear to the audience and did so exceptionally, her character is one that needed more depth to really grow and step into the forefront. This is something that Tara is able to do this time around, as she’s a central focus alongside Sam, instead of just a victim that needs saving. Mindy and Chad didn’t really have much development in the previous film, as there just wasn’t enough time, and despite their relation to legacy character Randy (Jamie Kennedy), they weren’t so much central characters as they were potential suspects in the circle of friends. This time out they’re really established as being besties with Tara and each have a lot more time to grow as characters throughout – though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re excluded from the list of suspects this time around.

Tara has moved to New York to go to school and wants to leave what happened back in Woodsboro the year before behind her. She’s attending Blackmore University with her friends and fellow “core four” members, Mindy and Chad, who also are eager to live normal lives. Mindy has a girlfriend, Anika (Devyn Nekoda), and Chad is trying to help his shy roommate Ethan (Jack Champion) open himself up to things like talking to a girl at a party. Tara’s roommate Quinn (Liana Liberato) fills out this new friend group, which always needs to be restocked with fresh suspects/victims/survivors.

Meanwhile, Sam has moved to New York to keep an eye on Tara, though Tara does rebel against this feeling that Sam is the reason why she can’t escape the spotlight, as an online conspiracy continues to push that they believe Sam was the mastermind behind the murders in Woodsboro. She’s going to therapy in an attempt to deal with her fairly sinister thoughts, though she’s having trouble finding a therapist who wants to go down this dark road with her. She does have a romantic interest of sorts in her neighbour, Danny (Josh Segarra), who also ups the suspects/victims/survivors list. Also not to be left out of that group is Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), who is Quinn’s dad, and is also the one in charge of the Ghostface case after the sisters are attacked.

While Neve Campbell may not have returned, we do have an unlikely legacy character back in the spotlight, as Hayden Panettiere returns as long thought dead Kirby Reed, arguably the coolest character added to the franchise since the original prior to these new sequels. She had a great death in 2011’s Scream 4, and while it sucked back when it happened, bringing her back now as an FBI agent who tells Detective Bailey that she wants to take down Ghostface is a welcome addition to the suspect/victims/survivors list! With the 2011 film never spawning direct sequels (it was supposed to be the start of a trilogy) that talked about or confirmed her death, having Kirby survive the massacre isn’t a stretch at all and she fits in perfectly to this story without stealing any spotlight from our “core four” new franchise focus.

We’ve also got Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) returning, and while she had a sweet moment with Sidney at the end of Scream (2022), we quickly learn that she’s back to her old self, capitalizing and profiting on the death of others. While it does seem like a backslide for her character there also isn’t really anywhere for her to go with Neve gone and Dewey out of the picture, so this actually doesn’t seem out of character for her, and it works for the story being told here. And much like Kirby, Gale works well here as a supporting character that doesn’t steal the spotlight, but helps it shine brighter on others.

The sixth film also takes the franchise out of Woodsboro for only the second time, this time headed to the Big Apple as the central location. Now, New York hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to slashers visiting it, and for good reason. Slasher films often work best in small towns, or secluded locations because the odds are in favour of the killer having the element of surprise. When you’re in New York, well, the city is alive both day and night, so it’s harder to have that stealthy element, and sometimes it can just be ridiculous like when a certain iconic murderer wearing a hockey mask just meandered about Time Square and the subway while hunting his victims. That’s not the case here though, as Ghostface rises to the challenge and the body count rises thanks to this change.

Yes, the violence is taken to a new level and Ghostface is more ruthless than ever. In Woodsboro, Ghostface wouldn’t just kill everyone at a party to get to their victims, but in New York, fuggetaboutit, nobody is safe. If there are civilians in the way of Ghostface in chase, they’re toast. It’s done in superb fashion, as well, never feeling silly or over-the-top, but instead just brutal and unforgiving, giving this Ghostface a much darker, more sinister vibe than we’ve seen before. That’s exactly what’s needed when you’re hitting the sixth installment in a horror franchise, and it’s not easy to do. Ghostface felt tougher in the 2022 film than prior versions had, and in Scream 6 it’s just a new – and welcome – level of unrelenting savagery.

The creative team has taken this franchise to wondrously violent new heights, and the over-arcing story being told with Sam at the forefront battling her inherited demons is an intriguing one that may not have an endgame in sight, but still pays off nicely in each film so far. While I’d love to see Neve Campbell return in some fashion, I do believe that as far as the story goes it’s logical for her not to from this point on if they can’t get things worked out. The focus put on the new blood this time out helped give these characters much needed depth, whether they’re still alive to continue to grow in future sequels or not. Scream 6 is easily the most action-packed, goriest and fast-paced installment of the franchise thus far, and I can’t wait to see what this creative team does whenever they take a stab at Scream 7.

Overall Movie Score: 4.5/5

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:

One thing I haven’t spoken of yet is the 4K delivery of this movie, which is so good it’ll make you scream. Okay, cheesy intros aside, this is a fantastic looking horror flick, brought to life beautifully through Dolby Vision, which adds a wonderful richness to the plentiful darker scenes showcased throughout. The blacks being strong and deep add to the tension, knowing Ghostface could be lurking in the shadows. There’s no muddiness or crushed blacks here, so those looking to get the best viewing experience of this film at home need look no further.

There’s also an incredible sense of detail throughout, both of the city, the various settings, the characters, the gore, and the eeriness of the Ghostface mask that the killer where’s, which looks to have seen better days, but also adds even another layer of fright to this terrifying killer. The kills are in your face, the blood is a deep red, and everything just looks phenomenal in this release.

The audio is always vitally important and is often utilized in unique ways in this genre. The city is alive all around us, even as people are being killed by Ghostface within it. The screams rip through the speaker, and the blade can be heard swinging right by you as characters run for their lives. The score takes the tension up a notch and comes through at all angles during various scenes. It’s a truly outstanding audio and visual mix that support one another spectacularly and deliver a top tier home viewing experience.

Special Features:

Usually the special features in these combo packs have the 4K disc holding just the film, or at the very most a commentary track, but here we’ve got all the special features available on the 4K disc, which is nice for convenience.

Audio Commentary – We’ve got a commentary track (subtitles optional) from the filmmakers, which is great. These are guys who love the franchise, love the genre, and are really excited to share the process with the viewers.

Death Comes to the City – This feature comes in at just under 8-minutes in length and sees the cast and crew talking about how Scream 6 takes place in New York, the advantages of doing so, why the decision was made, and how it adds new life to the story and allows them to do things they couldn’t in Woodsboro.

The Faces of Death – This feature comes in at just over 14-minutes in length and focuses on the cast of characters, the decision to focus on the “core four” and how much they loved the idea of doing so and growing with these characters. They also touch on more of the characters that enter the story here and it’s an overall fun watch for fans of the film.

More Meta Than Meta – This feature is just over 10-minutes and talks about the history of the franchise and how it’s always been one of the first to poke fun at itself and the genre and talk openly about cliches or tropes on screen, and how they’re proud to continue that tradition here.

Bloodbath at a Bodega – This featurette comes in at just under 5-minutes in length and focuses on one of my favourite attacks in the film, where Sam and Tara run into a convenient store full of people, thinking that’ll deter Ghostface – only it does the exact opposite and turns into, well, a bloodbath. Great fun to watch on screen, and great to see a brief look at how it was done and why.

An Apartment to Die For – Yes, even the special feature titles have fun with wordplay, as this feature is seven and a half minutes in length and takes the viewer into the process of the Ghostface attack at Tara’s apartment. It’s a great watch, and again, just so easy to watch that it goes by in a blink. We’ve got a couple of more, but you really just want to see the entire filming process, honestly.

The Night Train to Terror – This featurette focuses on another great scene in the film, where a pair of our protagonists find themselves on a subway train, separated from everyone else, and the train is full of New Yorkers. The thing is, it’s Halloween, so over half of these people are dressed up, with plenty going out as Ghostface. Needless to say, there’s some intensity here and it’s great to see into the process some more.

Theater of Blood – Here we have a look into the location of the film’s climactic moments. It’s 11-minutes in length and we hear from the cast and crew, as per usual at this point, who talk about filming the scene, how much work went into designing this theater that pays tribute to every Ghostface killer, and all the easter eggs within it. Once again, great and easy watch that’s definitely recommended to check out.

Paramount Pictures Presents Scream 6. Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett. Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick. Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Courtney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, Dermot Mulroney, Hayden Panettiere, Devyn Nekoda, Jack Champion, Josh Segarra. Running time: 122 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on 4K Blu-ray: July 11, 2023.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.