Scream 6 (or whatever it may be titled) is officially happening. This is hardly a surprise after the fifth Scream film, confusingly titled just Scream, surpassed all pandemic and January expectations by opening to $33.9 million over MLK Day weekend. Still, it was nice to get a confirmation Thursday that the sixth entry is greenlit and moving ahead with Radio Silence’s Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet returning to direct, and James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick once again writing the screenplay.
That creative team did a solid job of filling the shoes of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson last time, and the quartet moving ahead for a fast tracked sequel that will shoot this summer has echoes of the quick turnaround Craven and Williamson pursued for Scream 2—a movie we believe to be one of the better horror sequels ever made. Undoubtedly, this collection of filmmakers have their own ideas about where the next Scream movie (or two) will be headed. Nevertheless, we here at Den of Geek are happy to offer our two cents worth of advice about what we could see next from old Ghostface as he rises to slash again.
No ‘The’ in the Scream Title
Let’s just get this out of the way, first: Don’t get too cutesy with the title. In the case of this year’s Scream 5—or “Scream” as the poster and marketing insisted on it being called—the filmmakers ostensibly were having some fun with the current trend popularized best by 2018’s Halloween where a legacy sequel shares the same exact title as the first movie it’s following up. In the case of Halloween, it was supposedly to signal this was a return to the roots of the original John Carpenter masterpiece from 1978, as the 2018 movie ignored all the other sequels and retcons that occurred in between. Even so, it seems more likely this title was really chosen not to signify a solidarity with the past, but to avoid turning off younger viewers who had never seen an earlier Halloween movie.
And it worked! So given Blumhouse’s success with Halloween, a number of other horror legacy sequels (or “requels” as they were called in Scream 5) repeated the trend. Hence last month’s Scream. Technically, the new movie made fun of itself when several fans of Stab, the horror franchise within a horror franchise, are seen on a YouTube video in the new movie whining that Stab 8 shouldn’t be called just Stab because it’s a sequel, not a reboot. Yet the Radio Silence team admitted to Variety that that joke was thrown in last minute because they had orders from the studio to call the new movie just Scream.
“We all had, I think, the same reaction that most people have, which is, ‘huh?’” Bettinelli-Oplin said when Paramount selected the title.
So to avoid anymore “huhs,” we would humbly suggest not doing something similarly opaque like calling the new film The Scream. Sure, that could have some fun at recent quasi-reboots just putting ‘the’ in the title, such as last year’s The Suicide Squad and this year’s The Batman, but we might point out how this ultimately could confuse people, as it did in the case of TSS. Also, as our news and features editor Kirsten Howard pointed out, the name Scream 6(66) is sitting right there!
No Legacy Characters from the Original Movie
The other don’t we would kindly suggest for Scream 6 is to finally let Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott and Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers rest in peace—as well as each being in one living piece! While we’ve enjoyed all the Scream sequels to varying degrees, the killers in Scream 5 astutely pointed out that David Arquette’s lovable Dewey Riley needed to die (or at least one of the original trio did), because the idea of all three protagonists from the 1996 movie surviving these shenanigans for a fifth time would start “looking ridiculous.”
While we are champions of Scream 4 around here, that movie lacks a certain degree of danger because it was clear that neither Sid, Gale, or Dewey would ever die. Hence the former sheriff’s bitter demise in Scream 5. Not since Jamie Kennedy’s Randy got dragged into a van with a knife during the second movie have one of these flicks felt so dangerous and menacing for likable leads!
It’s also for that reason that it’s time to let Sidney and Gale go. Given Campbell’s relatively brief reprise of Sid for mostly the third act of the new movie, it might be an open question how much she wants to return to the role. And beyond grieving the loss of Dewey, it seemed like neither Gale or Sidney had much left to do in their character arcs for the fifth movie beyond putting this latest copycat in the ground. There was a certain thrill with their no-nonsense “we’re tired of this shit” energy as they rushed into the final murder house to once again shoot a couple of Ghostfaces, but it feels like their story is done. Don’t keep bringing them back until they too will have to suffer Dewey’s fate or look ridiculous.
… But What About Kirby Reed?
With that said, just because you shouldn’t bring back the original legacy characters doesn’t mean there isn’t room for other familiar faces to pop back up. Take Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby Reed, for example. Not since the first movie had a Scream sequel introduced a new character as entertaining and fan friendly as this wiseacre in Scream 4. Signaling a difference between Gen-Xers and millennials, here was a horror movie nerd who was not considered a social outsider like Randy in the original pictures. Instead she was a social media savvy hipster who could steal scenes with her self-aware deconstruction of 2000s horror movie tropes, especially when it came to all those lazy remakes going on in that era. One imagines she was on the verge of minor internet Film Twitter fame before Ghostface struck!
Plus, Panettiere had charisma enough for days, holding her own in scenes with Roger Jackson’s beloved Ghostface growl and original legacy characters from ’96. It’s the reason many fans were disappointed when she ultimately took two knife wounds to the stomach, and remained hopeful she survived since we saw her bleed out but not die. Clearly the Radio Silence filmmakers were among those fans rooting for an unlikely recovery since in a tiny easter egg YouTube thumbnail in Scream 5, it’s revealed Kirby Reed is alive and giving interviews about her own experiences with Ghostface.
Could this be setting up Panettiere reprising her role for another Scream movie? We hope so. Not since Randy has a horror movie expert survived to deconstruct horror tropes in two movies. And seeing Kirby trade notes with Randy’s niece, and Scream 5’s own horror nerd survivor, Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), could be a lot of fun. Also if the original legacy characters don’t come back, Kirby’s older perspective on a new type of horror sequel might bring some needed insight for what comes next…
One of the best bits in Scream 5 was how disgusted Ghostface sounded over the phone when his first chosen victim, Jenna Ortega’s Tara Carpenter, said her favorite horror movies were The Babadook, It Follows, and The Witch. “Boring!” is what that Ghostface had to say about the new trend of supposedly “elevated horror” from the 2010s. This makes sense, of course, since Ghostface is a bit of a relic out of the past himself—an old school slasher from the 1990s who even then was intentionally meant to feel like a throwback to the glut of masked killers in ‘80s horror flicks.
However, the killers in the most recent movie are revealed to be glorified Scream (or Stab) fanboys trying to redo the 25-year-old movie they loved growing up. Move on, people! Well, it’s time Ghostface did too. The new version of the icon should of course remain the phone-calling, pop culture-riffing, and Roger Jackson-voiced menace from the original movies. But what if in addition to his knife and mask, the new Ghostface attempted to “elevate” the concept by actually mimicking the type of horror movies Tara loves? She’s still around and even got the biggest cheer line of the movie when she shot one of the tormentors who turned her into a pin cushion and says, “I still prefer The Babadook.”
Well, what happens when she and her older sister are now being pursued by killers who want to savor long, drawn out, and intellectual attacks where Ghostface attempts speaking early modern English, a la Black Phillip?
Okay, maybe scratch that last bit. How exactly to balance making fun of “elevated horror” while still being a slasher movie is a tightrope, to be sure, and one that could wind up as misguided as Stab 8 apparently turned out to be in the Scream universe. But if the filmmakers can thread that delicate needle, they could make Scream as vitally current to younger viewers as the original movies were back in their day, and have fun taking the piss out of what is now considered to be respectable horror.
Meet Sam and Tara’s Mother
Speaking of Tara, Ortega ended up being a really sympathetic protagonist in the new movie and will undoubtedly be back alongside the obvious new “final girl” in the franchise, Melissa Barrera’s Sam Carpenter. The two sisters did the unlikely thing and survived opening and closing scenes of a Scream movie while making new “rules” along the way. But their past is still a significant question mark in Scream lore. We know that their mother slept with Skeet Ulrich’s Billy Loomis before the events of the first Scream, hence Sam’s internalized demons that come with knowing she’s the daughter of a serial killer. However, the same mother also hid that parentage from Sam for years, as well as the father who raised Sam and Tara. She also made no attempts to come home when her younger daughter wound up in the hospital, the victim of a stabbing meant to echo her high school beau’s after school hobbies.
That raises a lot of red flags—and a lot of opportunity to have some fun filling in Woodsboro lore as we get to better understand Sam and Tara’s dysfunctional family. While the next Scream movie should probably get out of Woodsboro, which has been the backdrop now of three of the last five Scream movies, your childhood home tends to stay with you wherever you may roam. So imagine what kind of fun the ghost of Billy Loomis, who haunts Sam’s head, might have while playing off the mother of his child?
What Is This Trilogy About?
We’ve had some suggestions about the meta/comedy side of Scream, as well as the continuity elements for returning characters, but what is this larger second trilogy going to be about? The directors of the recent movie have repeatedly teased in the press that they’d like to extend Scream 5 into its own trilogy. In which case, there needs to be an overarching theme.
The original three Scream movies tracked the influence and cultural impact of horror movies, from the young people who grow up with them (the first movie), to the industrialized way they’re exploited by sequels (the second), and finally how the proverbial sausage is made in Hollywood (the third). What could these new movies be building toward?
Obviously, like the ghost of Sidney Prescott’s dead mother and hidden past, the secrets of Sam’s parents will continue to be unfurled across the next two movies. Additionally, Sam’s own personal struggles with apparently inheriting her father’s bloodlust will undoubtedly be developed. Could the second movie even end with an Empire Strikes Back-like twist where she picks up her father’s mask and embraces her destiny? It’d be an interesting twist. Imagine a sister vs. sister finale?
One thing we might suggest, however, is picking up on an abandoned plot thread which the original screenwriter, Kevin Williamson, had in mind for Scream 3. The author behind the first trilogy, and writer of the first two scripts, initially intended for Matthew Lillard’s Stu Macher to return as the surprise mastermind of the threequel, being alive and orchestrating the murders from prison. Well, this behind-the-scenes story is too well-known by fans to be used as a twist surprise in Scream 6 or 7. So how about the new creatives repurpose the idea and have Stu become a major character in the next movie from the beginning—a Hannibal Lecter like figure who has vital information about Sam’s father that could explain the next spate or two of murders. In fact, it would bring back one legacy character from the original movie—just not one of the beloved heroes—while threading a larger story that connects Scream 5 to whatever comes next.
These are just a few of our ideas for Scream 6. But what would you like to see?