We’re not in Woodsboro anymore. This month marked one year since the iconic meta-slasher series was reborn with the successful fifth installment, “Scream.” Already we’re only a few months away from the next entry in the franchise, “Scream VI,” once again helmed by director duo Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (of “Ready or Not” fame) in the absence of creator Wes Craven.
While their 2022 Ghostface romp served as a franchise revitalization and a parody of the “legacy sequel” trend in Hollywood, bringing back all the familiar characters and handing the torch to the new cast, “Scream VI” is making an ambitious promise to be the most daring departure from the franchise so far. The newest trailer sets the tone accordingly: it’s darker, way less self-referential, and Ghostface even wields a shotgun in a bodega.
In the February 2023 issue of Total Film (available on Thursday, February 2), Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin open up about their new black sheep entry into the “Scream” franchise, and the duo describe how this particular iteration of the Ghostface killer will be more horrifying than any Ghostface we’ve seen before.
‘A bolder, more brazen Ghostface’
In the marketing, we have already seen a couple of things that a previous Ghostface would never do: including strike in public. In the sixth film, we’re stepping away from the perspective of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell departed the project after sadly not being offered her proper due) and instead following Sam (Melissa Barrerra) and her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) on the run in New York City. In the very first teaser for “Scream VI,” our lead cast dispersed on a subway full of people dressed for Halloween.
In this set piece, Mindy (Jasmin Savoy-Brown) is attacked by one of the many Ghostface masks in the scene. This time, Ghostface means business. “We wanted to make this really different, while still having all the stuff you love,” Bettinelli-Olpin told Total Film. “Having a bolder, more brazen Ghostface was a big part of that.” It’s great that this new iteration of “Scream” is willing to take the extra mile when it comes to the kills, continuing to honor the slasher part of this franchise’s legacy. The 2022 film was a pleasant surprise in this regard, having one of the more grizzly sets of kills in a “Scream” sequel so far. It’s comforting to know that this direction will continue with the sixth film.
Is a darker tone and faster pace better?
Of course, attempting to do something that truly stands apart from the rest of the franchise requires taking even bolder risks than just graphic kills. For Gillett, that also involved improving the pacing compared to what a typical “Scream” would feel like. “It really moves like it’s on rocket fuel,” Gillett explained. “You sit down, it starts, and the movie is just a ride. You get off two hours later, and you feel like you haven’t taken a breath.”
In exchange for the faster-paced, darker tone, however, there will be less time for the ironic meta humor that practically put “Scream” on the map.”This starts, and it just goes,” Gillett explains. “So there aren’t really these large pockets to talk about other movies. It of course has all of the fun nods and meta-commentary. But we really loved how accelerated this story is. It felt like a reflection of how accelerated the process of making it was.”
Now, this part feels particularly risky. “Scream” has always been adored not just for its self-awareness, but also its ability to comment on current horror trends and cliches. With a lessened focus on the genre commentary and meta aspects, will “Scream VI” even feel like a “Scream” film?
While there’s a lot to be cynical about, it’s only natural that a film franchise on its sixth entry would be looking for ways to refresh the formula. Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin seem to be willing to take unique risks, which could prove to be a good thing, and with 2022’s “Scream,” they’ve established a newcomer cast of likable characters that could potentially hold their own weight.
Will it all pay off? We’ll find out when “Scream VI” opens on March 10, 2023.