Here’s What Scream 5’s Title Could Mean for the Franchise

Kevin Williamson has announced the official title is simply Scream and it's probably a reference to Halloween 2018.

Photo: Kevin Williamson

Scream 5 has wrapped filming. The announcement came via Twitter from original Scream writer Kevin Williamson, the godfather of the ’90s teen slasher era (he also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer) and exec producer on the new Scream movie. Along with the production wrap announcement, Williamson also officially revealed what the title of Scream 5 would be.

No, not 5cream, as the internet would have it, but just, simply, Scream.

His wrap message reads:

“That’s a wrap on Scream, which I’m excited to announce is the official title of the next film! Nearly 25 years ago, when I wrote Scream and Wes Craven brought it to life, I could not have imagined the lasting impact it would have on you, the fans. I’m excited for you to return to Woodsboro and get really scared again. I believe Wes would’ve been so proud of the film that Matt and Tyler are making. I’m thrilled to be reunited with Neve, Courteney, David and Marley, and to be working alongside a new filmmaking team and incredible cast of newcomers that have come together to continue Wes’s legacy with the upcoming relaunch of the franchise that I hold so dear to my heart. See you in theatres January 2022. #ScreamMovie @ScreamMovies”

At first glance – well it’s not exactly a big deal. It happens, the Fast and the Furious 4 was called Fast & Furious, The Thing prequel was just called The Thing, Final Destination 4 was called The Final Destination while Final Destination 5 turned out to actually be Final Destination 0 (in terms of continuity). 

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With Scream though there might be something a little bit more meta going on here – namely how the movie will relate to 2018’s Halloween reboot, which was actually a sequel to the original 1978 Halloween, ignoring the rest of the Halloween series. A movie, which was just called Halloween.

Since it’s arrival in 1996 Scream has always been in dialogue with classic slasher movies and Halloween has been a key reference point from the off, along with Friday the 13th and others helping to form the ‘rules’ Randy (Jamie Kennedy) explains to Sidney (Neve Campbell) and the gang. It was both a celebration of, and something of a critique of, classic slasher tropes with our hero Sid complaining:

“What’s the point they’re all the same, some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act and is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door, it’s insulting.” 

That, of course, is not the definition of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) a final girl who has far more in common with Sidney after all – and is the very opposite of a 2D character making bad choices in 2018’s Halloween.

Just like Halloween in 1978, Scream changed the landscape of the slasher movie forever. It spawned a whole era of glossy meta-horrors, it was part of the jolt that shifted the balance in terms of gender roles in genre, helping to convince execs that horror was not the domain of men and it cleared the way for a whole new subgenre to thrive (namely torture porn – which has now dissipated – but it’s all just different flavours…).

So it would make absolute sense for a Scream reboot to once more glance at its mentor franchise for a reference point.

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Scream 5 logo

Scream 5 isn’t just another Scream movie. One of the most significant things about this reboot is that it’s the first to be made since the passing of legendary director Wes Craven, himself of course as much a part of horror, and slasher, history as Carpenter and Williamson. Craven shepherded all four of the Scream movies up until now – for the fifth Ready Or Not team Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett take the reins.

This couldn’t have just been another sequel without Craven. It needed to be something new. Talking to GeeksOfColor both directors talked about how incredibly significant Craven’s work is to them.

“[His] entire body of work is so important to us as filmmakers, and as fans, and especially Scream, like Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street are two of the most like influential movies to us in our lives. And it’s almost impossible to separate that from any of our work, let alone Scream,” said Bettinelli-Olpen. “But then one of the things that’s so important to any Scream is how it speaks about the current state of horror and how it evolves horror, and hopefully, moves it along and and that is just baked into the script.”

The pair, who go by the collective name ‘Radio Silence’ also talked about how Jordan Peele’s work and the aesthetic of Us played a big part in their choices.

“What he’s doing is the closest thing to something that we hope to do, and that we love in terms of tonally where it’s fun, and it’s about something and it’s exciting,” said Bettinelli-Olpen.

Horror has moved on a lot since the first Scream. It’s even moved on a lot since Scream 4 landed in 2011. So it’s absolutely right that a new Scream should move with it.

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So what could that mean? We are not suggesting that Scream (2022) will be a direct sequel to Scream (1996) – that’s extremely unlikely since Craven directed the first four (unlike Carpenter who only made the original Halloween and not all the sequels). But it is possible that the film will feel like a back to basics Scream, bringing together the key original cast, while adding modern sensibilities. 

The Scream series has already touched on the effects on Sidney of her past trauma, as was the focus of Halloween for Laurie but it’ll be interesting to see where we find Sid, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Scream 4 Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) who also returns.

It’s also worth noting that since 2011 we have seen a surge of highbrow horror – sometimes called ‘elevated horror’ – get a lot of critical attention, Halloween (2018) included, with Peele winning an Oscar for the screenplay of Get Out.  It wouldn’t be surprising if the tone of this Scream is slightly different – that, as the directors say, Scream becomes a film that is ‘about something’ at the same time as being a fun ride. 

Scream is a franchise that in theory can absolutely move with the times. Let’s hope it takes a leaf out of Halloween 2018’s book and manages to be both faithful and fresh at the same time.

Scream opens in theaters in January 2022