The following article contains major spoilers for the ending of "Scream VI."
Step aside, Sidney Prescott — there's a new final girl in town. Actually, there are two, and they'vebothfled Woodsboro to enter the mean streets of New York. But if "Scream 2" taught us anything, it's that you don't need to be in Woodsboro to get a visit from Ghostface. The sixth installment of "Scream" is the first film that doesn't featureNeve Campbellas Sidney, and in some ways, fans can rest easy knowing she's safe. The only reason the franchise ever reached number six stems solely from Campbell's participation. Okay, there may have been six movies even without her, but they wouldn't feel the same. Yet with the success of "Scream" (2022) rebooting the franchise, "Scream VI" stands strong even without our favorite Woodsboro final girl.
Given that Courteney Cox returns as Gale and we get a blast from the "Scream 4" past with Hayden Panettiere reprising her role as Kirby, there are enough ties to the OG material for it to feel like a "Scream" movie even without Campbell (though we obviously miss her dearly). Like every installment, "Scream VI" is a brilliant satire with plenty of nuance under all the blood and guts — and more twists than the road to Stu Macher's house. So, what happens to our Core Four Woodsboro residents that survived the "Scream" requel, who is Ghostface this time around, and how does the movie correlate with the that came before?
The motherload of misdirection
The"Scream" franchise is defined by its plot twistsand misdirections. "Scream 4" was the last time we got an opening as surprising as "Scream VI," and it's essential to analyze this beginning in order to understand the ending. After all, one of the most iconic moments in a "Scream" movie is always the first 15 minutes. The fourth installment misdirects fans not once but twice with its opening scenes. In that case, both openers were actually from "Stab" movies, and it's not until the third sequence that the real-life events kick off — primarily because, in one of those instances, the killer reveals herself right away (raise a glass for Kristin Bell).
Yet in "Scream VI," audiences are shocked to discover that Ghostface lifts up his mask to reveal Tony Revolori's character, Jason Carvey. Come on, his last isliterallyCarvey (as in, 'I'm gonna carve you up'). With Ghostface unmasked this early and no "Stab" iconography flashing on the screen, fans might wonder when Buggs Bunny will pop out of the screen and say, "That's all, folks!" Of course, that'snotall, folks.
More Ghostface killers exist in this installment than we've ever seen before. Mr. Carvey and his film class bestie are only act one — and instead of popcorn, Ghostface is serving Jason's head as the first course. Sadly for Carvey McCarverson, the Ghostface with actual connections to the Woodsboro murders doesn't like it when someone tries to steal his thunder — though he seems like a caring vigilante at first.
Becoming a franchise
To understand the ending of "Scream VI," fans must take note of the rules of a franchise. Of course, Mindy is here to give the characters (and fans) the lowdown in a scene that not-so-subtly pays homage to her late, great Uncle Randy. Mindy lets fans know that requel rules aresolast year. Now, we're in a franchise.
First and foremost, her number one rule is that everything is bigger than the last one. Number two, the Woodsboro group needs to expect the opposite of what happened last time. And most chillingly, number three dictates that no one is safe, and the legacy characters are canon fodder. But wait, there's more. Episodic continuation indicates that the final characters are expendable ... dun dun dun.
In some ways, this is a misdirection in itself because the movie has the best survival rate (of characters we actually care about) of any movie in the "Scream"franchise. (Yes, Mindy, it's been a franchise for years.) With that being said, Mindy does say to expect the unexpected, and the movie certainly lives up to that by the end.
Let Sidney have her happy ending
Though Neve Campbell announced that she wouldn't appear in "Scream VI," fans didn't quite believe it until the movie's end. It wouldn't be the first time the franchise intentionally misled the fanbase. ButCampbell told Peopleback in August of 2022, "I did not feel that what I was being offered equated to the value that I bring to this franchise, and have brought to this franchise, for 25 years." She also called out the production for the double standard women face in this industry, adding, "I honestly don't believe that if I were a man and had done five installments of a huge blockbuster franchise over 25 years, that the number that I was offered would be the number that would be offered to a man."
Campbell did stick to her guns, even though fans half-expected her to show up. Gale mentions early on in the movie that Sidney "deserves her happy ending." And on some level, she's right.Though Campbell's continued status as the series' final girl set "Scream" apart from other horror franchises, fans would have been gutted if their favorite final girl ended up in a body bag (pun intended).
Sidney's absence from the movie is more than palpable, and it's sad that Campbell wasn't valued more. However, fans also speculated that Campbell's decision may have stemmed from the fact that the franchise wanted to kill Sidney in this installment (and were offering the actress way too little money to do it). So, there's a chance that Campbell just saved Sidney's life, and for that, we can all be grateful.
The curious case of a narcissistic reporter
One death that fans surely expected to happen in "Scream VI" is that of Gale Weathers. Her intro to the movie is disheartening at best, as she seems to have lost all of the character growth she developed throughout five films. One of the most powerful moments of "Scream" (2022) comes at the end when Gale promises not to give Richie notoriety by writing a new book. Instead, she planned to write about the sheriff of a small town to pay tribute to Dewey.
Here, we discover that Gale has written a book, and she sensationalized Sam's mental health to do it. Of course, we get some Sidney callbacks when Sam tries to punch Gale, and Tara succeeds. Yet Gale offers Sam one wholesome nugget before her showdown with Ghostface: "You can still make your own family, even if it's just one person." She found that with Dewey and Sidney.
Veering away from the setup of Randy's "Scream 2" death, Ghostface misdirects the group and goes after Gale instead. He tells Gale that a phone call between them is overdue and that "Maybe it's time someone made a buck reporting your death ... You never got to be the leading lady, did you?"
Gale proceeds to have one of the most epic showdowns with Ghostface that we've seen yet, including a moment where we think she just might win after hanging up on Ghostface, calling him back, and sussing out his location. However, he stabs the daylights out of her, and she tells Sam and Tara, "Tell Sidney he never got me." Shockingly, the sentiment rings true, and we find out at the end of the movie that Gale survived her injuries.
Past Ghostface killahs haunt the present
Early in the film, we discover that Ghostface has been using the masks of every previous killer in reverse order. It's a pretty genius idea to keep the OG canon alive while honoring the "Scream 2" reveal location in a theater. Instead of a performing arts theater on a college campus, though, we have a creepy movie theater with a slew of evidence from over two decades of Woodsboro killers and victims alike.
And here's our first major hint that the killer is in law enforcement: How else would they get this much evidence? Though it's not totally obvious in the moment, this nugget presents two options: Detective Bailey or Kirby (who reenters the universe as an FBI agent). After Gale's attempted murder, Sam and Tara plan to lure and trap Ghostface in the theater. In the meantime, Mindy gets separated from the group on the subway, taking more than a few seemingly fatal stab wounds herself. And though she beats herself up for clocking Ethan as the killer after he saves her, she's not too far off. After all, "trust no one" is a good rule in this franchise.
Sam once again grapples with hallucinations of her father (and OG killer) Billy Loomis, who convinces her to grab a weapon and clear the place herself. Sam grabs his old knife, and Billy says, "Excellent choice. My favorite." Naturally, Sam is already suspicious of Kirby for insisting on carrying the only weapon. To make matters more suspicious, Detective Bailey calls Sam and tells her that Kirby got fired from the FBI after being found "mentally unstable" following the last round of killings.
Families who slay together stay together (in a morgue)
The minute Chad and Tara finally kiss, it seems like his fate is sealed. The final girl's love interests don't tend to last very long, after all. Unsurprisingly, Chad gets brutally stabbed by two Ghostfaceswhilehe's kissing Tara. Geez, Ghostie, can a guy get a little action first? And despite being utterly mauled, the group still side-eyes Kirby as the killer.
However, "Scream VI" serves "Scream 2" vibes, and the Ghostface reveal is no different. Both films take place out of Woodsboro as the surviving high schoolers try to leave their past behind — only to find the effort futile. This time, though, there are three killers instead of the usual pairs or the lonesome Roman Bridger. Dermot Mulroney spends most of the movie as a vigilante cop avenging his seemingly murdered daughter Quinn. Following that revelation, a grieving Bailey enlists his help to find the killer, telling Sam and Tara, "You f*** with your family, you die."
After stumping fans on the identity of the three Ghostfaces, Chad's apparently sweet and nerdy roommate Ethan reveals that he's wearing Nancy Loomis' mask — and that's when things click into place. This is a revenge-driven family affair. As soon as a very alive Quinn removes her mask and reveals that she's the second Ghostface, we immediately know who's behind Ghostface number three: Detective Bailey. Naturally, he's Richie's father hell-bent on avenging his serial killer son's murder. Hey Bailey, Nancy Loomis called, and she wants her backstory back.
Don't f*** with my family
Tara aptly congratulates the good detective for his stellar parenting skills, while Sam tells him that his loser son was "a man baby who made his girlfriend do all of the work." Ethan stabs Kirby with the knife from her original stabbing to add some poetry to the moment. Of course, incel extraordinaire Charlie Walker was guilty of stabbing Kirby in "Scream 4," so it's unsurprising that the new film's incel virgin wields his knife, later telling Tara, "I always wanted to stick something in you." Ew.
Luckily, Tara quite literally gets the drop on him when she falls from a balcony and stabs him right through his smart mouth, saying, "Now die, you f****** virgin." Sam savagely tells Quinn, "Looks like you're down another brother," and kills her with a headshot.
At this point, Sam's killer tendencies are in high gear, and she wants to play. Channeling Billy, she calls Bailey using the Ghostface voice and says, "I've got one question for you. What's your favorite scary movie?" According to Detective McCreepy, Sam claimes "her birthright" when she dons her father's Ghostface mask. He adds, "Poetic that you're going to die in it." Naturally, the not-so-good detective gets into police brutality and abuse of authority NYPD mode when he mocks Sam and asks who they'll believe: the daughter of a killer or a cop?
Written and directed by Robbie Kirsch
Sam assures Bailey, "My father was a murderer. No matter what you think, I'm better than that." But sometimes, you just don't have a choice. Sam makes Bailey think she's saving him and then parrots his earlier line, "But you did f*** with our family, so..." Billy Loomis would be proud of his daughter as she stabs him in the face.
Richie's home video is still playing on the screen as his father dies — adding another layer of nuance to the ending. After Bailey takes his last breath, the words, "Written and directed by Richie Kirsch," flash over a flaming mask on the theater screen. His family, after all, was trying to finish his movie — as were the two idiots in the film's opening. But like Nancy Loomis and Robbie himself, they learned that no matter how hard they try, they're not the main characters in this story — and avenging the murder of a serial killer is a futile death wish.
Sticking to tradition, there has to be at least one "Ghostface has risen from apparent death" moment in the movie. Ethan barrels back onto the scene only to find a very alive Kirby. She smashes his head through the TV that killed Stu Macher with the quip, "I saw this in a scary movie once." Here, Kirby finally gets her revenge on her would-be murderer Charlie through an incel surrogate. And that's more poetic than any of Bailey's ramblings.
Embracing legacy but making it their own
There aren't a whole lot of OG characters to give Sam and Tara advice at the end of the film. But while Gale is busy dealing with a slew of stab wounds, Kirby takes on that role. She and Sam went to high school together, after all. She tells the sisters, "Legacy doesn't always have to be a bad thing," and tells them to call if they need anything.
Sam proves this time and time again when she embraces her mental health struggles and her cursed family lineage, but chooses not to become another cold-blooded killer in her family line. She yearns to understand Billy, but she refuses to become him. Sure, she teeters on the edge of good and evil sometimes, but her moral compass still keeps her grounded — while allowing her to have a little fun with the people who make her life a living hell.
Struggling with a desire to keep a piece of her father with her, as morbid as it is, Sam looks at his crumbling Ghostface mask that she swiped from the theater. Giving it a moment's thought, she discards the bloody reminder of her family's past on the rainy street, silently vowing to make her own legacy.
The Core Four
Though Mindy's initial rules state that anyone can die in a franchise, no one of import really does besides Mindy's girlfriend, Anika. Kirby and Gale's survival is vital because the one thing that's always worked about this series comes from the sequels anchoring the plot with the characters and themes of the first film. Most sequels peter off after number two or three, and people stop caring because it doesn't, in some way, involve the OGs. The requel characters can more than stand on their own on that front, but keeping the original spirit alive helps keep the franchise kicking — even without Sidney.
One of the best character developments in "Scream VI" involves Chad, who's become more like our beloved wholesome Randy and less like a typical jock. And shockingly, he turns up alive at the end of the movie. Earlier in the film, he coined the moniker "Core Four" for the requel's Woodsboro teen survivors. When Tara asks how the hell he's still alive, he simply holds up four fingers. She finally gives into his goofy nickname, exasperatedly saying, "Core f****** four."
Finally, Randy can rest easy knowing that the wholesome nerd gets the girl. Chad may wear a letterman's jacket, but at the end of the day, he's a protective sweetheart. Alternatively, Mindy is the horror expert with a biting edge. They're the perfect Meeks twin combo. The fact that they all survive is a breath of fresh air — even if it's unrealistic. Having the OG movie's core three (Sidney, Dewey, and Gale) survive for so long ensured the franchise's continued popularity, but few can argue that Randy got killed too early. Having the Core Four make it through (for now) rights that brutal wrong.
The impact of therapy
Each "Scream" movie is undoubtedly a product of its time, and that rings true for most of the franchise's handling of mental health issues. The "Scream" movies are quite guilty of throwing around offensive terminology to describe mental illness. While the newer flicks still follow the theme of outdated language on that front, they've done miles better at giving us some positive representation of mental health struggles that don't automatically result in serial killer behavior.
Sam goes to therapy during the movie, and she even tries to convince her sister to attend a session on more than one occasion. It's lovely to not only see Sam take her medication regimen seriously but to work hard at digging through some of her trauma so she can begin to heal.
Sure, her therapist kind of sucks (and he dies for it), but this representation of mental health has been desperately needed in "Scream" for over two decades. Finally, Tara agrees to follow her sister's lead on the therapy front after they defeat Ghostface. Tara says, "I'm gonna get so much therapy." Maybe there will be some family sessions in store for "Scream 7."
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact theCrisis Text Lineby texting HOME to 741741, call theNational Alliance on Mental Illnesshelpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit theNational Institute of Mental Health website.
Not every movie needs a post-credits scene
Let's face it: Marvel movies have started an out-of-control trend when it comes to post-credit scenes. No one feels safe leaving a movie theater until the very last credit has rolled, and it's a genius way to get audiences to care about the many behind-the-scenes experts who make a movie work. Also, it's fun to see the artwork, listen to the music, and take a gander at the list of songs used in the film.
But "Scream," at its core, remains a satirical horror franchise. It exists primarily to make fun of itself and the horror genre. So naturally, fans who wait around until the last credit has rolled are in for a sassy treat. An exasperated Mindy returns to the screen to say, "Not every movie needs a post-credits scene." Well played, Mindy, well played. While mocking a cliché, the movie embraces the cliché — which is just about the most "Scream" thing a sequel can do. Wes Craven would be proud.