Wes Craven’s reputation as a horror director had long been assured with a line of influential films but 1995 had seen him stumble with horror comedy hybrid ‘Vampire in Brooklyn’ a film akin to ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and hoping to emulate its success. It didn’t. Instead it bombed earning a paltry $19m worldwide. Craven’s next film Scream would be a gamble being as it was a horror film that would pull apart the tropes of the genre in Kevin Williamson’s whip smart script that was a hot ticket and audiences lapped it up to the tune of $173m. Spawning three further sequels that earned respectively $172m, $161m and a belated fourth film in 2011 earning $97m. But the fourth film was to be Craven’s last film when he fell victim to brain cancer passing away in 2015.
But you can’t keep a good franchise down and six years down the line Scream 5 was green lit but there was talk of it being originally go under the moniker of, ‘Scream : Legacy’ before it was formally announced that it would be titled simply, ‘Scream’ but would that cause confusion? It is original screenwriter Kevin Williamson who addressed this saying, ‘Well, it was always Scream 5 because it’s the fifth one. So I think we just threw that name out but I don’t think they ever seriously were going to call it Scream 5. I don’t think anybody wanted to see the number 5 after something…….but I think taking the 5 off and calling it Scream (works) because it’s brand new!’
Secrecy on the Scream set as to the identity of Ghostface is everything. 1997 saw Scream knowingly tear up the tropes and stereotypes of the genre with its now iconic masked killer Ghostface slaughtering all and sundry until the big reveal as to the killers identity. With the three following films it became increasingly difficult to keep it the identity of the killer a secret as to who would don the now iconic mask. On set the actors are all being grilled by journalists for any information on the new film. ‘It’s really hard to answer some of these questions’ replied David Arquette about the much anticipated sequel.
Arquette is not the only one finding it hard not to give it away but it’s a tight set and everyone is under orders to play their cards close to their chest. It’s a measure that the film makers are going to great length to conceal from the cast. ‘I know they’re only giving us the script up to page 77 and the idea with the film makers is to not tell any of us who Ghostface is until they actually shoot that scene because in the world of Scream everyone’s a suspect I suppose’ says Marley Shelton who rejoins the cast after her turn as Deputy Judy Hicks in the fourth film.
It’s a knowledge that none of the cast know who the killer is that sends shivers through the new young members of the latest film that includes Jenna Ortega , Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid and Kyle Gallner. ‘I have no clue’ admits Jack Quaid. ‘It’s kind of hard to talk about a lot without giving too much away’ adds Gallner before Ortega tells us , ‘We’ve all been hanging with each other so much as we’ve not been in our own home towns… we’ve all been hanging out but we know one is going to betray the others it’s like I trust you but I don’t!’ But for Melissa Barrera she believes that, ‘ It makes it that much more exciting for us!’
And who is to argue with her certainly not for co-directors Matt Bettineli Olpin & Tyler Gillett hot off the success of their own horror comedy ‘Ready or Not’ (reviewed HERE) but even they were only allowed to read the script under strict conditions , ‘We were so excited to read the first script at the conference room and it took us 3-4 hours because it was a paper copy and it’s a top secret project and Jamie (Vanderbilt) kept checking in on us with , ‘What’s taking the guys so long to read this thing?’ But we were loving it , every single beat first as fans and the approaching it as film makers after that’, says Olpin adding, ‘There are even members of the cast who don’t yet know who the killers are. We’ve been very careful with what information… you know it’s like a big whodunit so the more people you have involved questioning the more fun it is to make. Tyler adds, ’We even had a cast member who is a killer ask if we were lying!’ before adding, ‘and very few people know which is the real draft!’ But then Olpin then drops the bombshell, ‘There are no killers in this one. Everyone just has an incredible day!’ It’s probably sage to say that is not the case when the film finally screens for eager audiences
But no one wants to spoil the film as Arquette says,’ I think everyone has the same sort of mind set that they want the audience to have a real sort of pure experience when they first go into the film so everyone’s really conscious of not spoiling it for everyone and it goes down the line.’ It is only Shelton who offers a glimpse into what we can expect in the town of Woodsboro telling us , ‘I think one significant change in this movie is the young cast is much more ethnically diverse than we’ve seen in the past so perhaps Woodsboro is becoming more reflective of how America looks like. We have a rainbow cast of different ethnicities which is awesome’.
But the whole cast are all wary of giving too much away with Sonia Ammar who plays Liv Mckenzie asking, ‘Are we allowed to talk about this or what? Who knows what….’ and all are cagey about their roles with Kyle Gallner only going as far as saying, ‘ I play Vince he’s a dude around town but I can’t give too much away about it’. But then Mason Gooding, son of Cuba, adds, ’I play Chad he’s a Woodsboro local and given these very small perameters we’re near the limitations of what I can say but he plays football, he’s a human being, he breathes oxygen and that turns into CO2 and that’s it.’ Before the even an more surreal answer from Dylan Minnette revealing that his character, ‘has cool socks and really cares about his friends, he’s a cool guy and that’s all I can say. ……..They’re CGI-ing my entire performance as I don’t know how to act anymore’.
But it is Jasmin Savoy Brown who gives us a first insight of what we can expect from the cast of new characters saying, ‘One thing I’m really proud of and excited is that all of our characters are fully fleshed out people. None of them are caricatures or tropes of a type. My character Mindy is queer which is really exciting in that I am a queer person and getting to play a queer person is really cool.’ Warming to her subject she adds, ‘I feel that the Scream franchise has always been very self aware and anything they choose to play with is done in the right way. As far as LGBT representation there’s nothing offensive there. I wouldn’t be a part of something as a queer person or a person of colour or a woman that made any of those three things look bad.’
And Marley Shelton who returns as Deputy Hicks adds about the character, ‘In so many ways she is so different from who I am and I just love stepping into her shoes. I’ve never been asked to reprise a role so I was excited to recall everything that went into making Judy, Judy. Some new things have happened to her which I can’t share……yet but I think audiences are going to get a kick out of her’.
As much as the cast and crew are enjoying the film it was filmed at the height of the pandemic which has caused a wide range of production problems with strict safety regulations being enforced. As Marley explains, ‘I’m a germ-a-phobe in general so I was a little trepidatious about going back into it and how it is going to work? Is it going to be safe? But the team that has been assembled has done such a great job with the safety protocols. After Day One I just thought they’ve got this under control and I felt very safe. We get tested regularly, everybody wears PPE. The crew, they’re such troopers, they’re wearing face shields and masks all day without any break and as for the cast we wear masks right up until they say, ‘Action’ even during rehearsal so I don’t see their full faces until they roll camera. But you know we adapt to these situations but the first day it was a little strange. I still haven’t seen Matt and Tyler’s full faces, just their eyeballs which we joke about’.
But the set has not been without its laughs as Mikey Madsion explains, ‘Something about Jasmine (Savoy Brown) she’ll look at me and I just can’t stop laughing so there’s scenes where we’re in the background and we’re trying to stay in character but I look at Jasmin’s face and….’
Jasmin quickly interjects, ‘ What is it about my face?
‘ I just think that you’re so funny’ replies Mikey
An intrigued Jasmin asks, ‘Funny looking or funny?’’
‘No, you’re so beautiful. Oh shut up! You’re a funny person’ replies a now quickly back peddling Mikey
‘This is what it’s like on set!’ sighs their co-star Dylan Minnette
But much like the first film which shook up the genre the films have moved with the times and Scream 5 should be no different explains Marley Shelton, ‘What Scream has always done so well is that it is topical and timely. It feels relevant maybe because it’s a young generation of cast members and teen angst and coming of age and there’s the primal fear of being stabbed plus all the self referencing or whatever is the zeitgeist. It’s that coming together that it just kind of nails the tone. That’s always struck as one of the things that Scream has always got right. We’ve been making these for twenty years and they still feel like this new take on horror.’ David Arquette agrees , ‘Well my personal opinion is that film making and storytelling is getting smarter, the technology behind it is getting more advanced so you have more tools in your tool box. We also have a new history of horror films made within the last 10 years which are also…you know, film is always evolving and they have that to play with. They’re also great guys (the directors). So just because they’re doing it and not Wes they’re going to have their own take on it.’
But its Wes Craven’s legacy that everyone is keen to honour with Arquette admitting, ‘It’s really sad personally just having lost Wes and then being on the set in something he was instrumental in creating. It makes it really kind of touching as well. I do like the fact that they’re carrying on his legacy and Tyler and Matt are incredible directors and were really inspired by Wes which is sort of a testament to how wonderful he was an how much of an impression he left on film makers. I think they’re doing him justice, learned a lot from him but they’re also bringing unique sensibilities to it as well. Marley agrees, ‘Working with him, he was lovely and personable and clearly so brilliant at what he did and there was just a real sense of respect and reverence and Matt and Tyler have carried on that respect and reverence’
I think it’s a blessing to step on to set and that we get to follow in those footsteps.’ says director Tyler. It’s a lot of responsibility but we’re so reverential too. There’s a feeling that we’re telling this for the right reasons and Wes is part of that. We’re watching Wes Craven interviews all of the time, listening to his commentaries over and over and over, talking to all the cast who worked with him other previous movies and the stories of what he was like, what sort of person he was and even through that it feels like we’re getting to know him as fans on a level we never expected and hopefully that’s seeping into the movie.
With none of the cast knowing who who the killer, or maybe even killers are it is Sonia Ammar who probably sums it up best telling us, ‘It’s a weird balance of, I really want to survive this but I also want a super cool death. No one’s safe!’
We’ll soon find out.