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Scream 5: A Rebirth Or The Death Of A Franchise?

Rumors of a fifth installment in the Scream franchise have been circulating for years now and this past November, Bloody Disgusting broke the news that Spyglass had picked up the rights to the franchise and that Scream 5 would indeed be happening. Since then, news has come to a screeching halt, leaving fans of the series to wonder what exactly is happening? While we await news on what cast and crew will be involved and then also, if its a sequel, a prequel or a reboot, its time for fans of Scream to look at what we want from the series.

The first three films in the Scream franchise served as a trilogy, with the idea being that Scream 4 would be the beginning of a second trilogy. Obviously that never panned out as Scream 4 was met with lukewarm reviews, the lowest box office gross in the series and then, Wes Craven’s death in 2015. The original trilogy wasn’t flawless by any means but did ultimately tell a cohesive and compelling story that was original and relevant to the times. While the fourth film was ambitious and not bad, it ultimately lacked the charisma and innovative nature that the first three films had. Social commentary was only one element to Scream‘s success, and the fourth film missed that memo.

So what does Scream 5 need to do to reignite the franchise? I’m going to layout a lot of my opinions and ideas here, some which will be met with skepticism and anger and some of which you might embrace. Either way, the comment section should be fun for this piece! My first idea is that its time for a clean slate behind the scenes. With Craven being deceased, obviously the director’s chair will be occupied by someone else but let’s not stop there. No offense to Kevin Williamson, who I think did an amazing job as the writer of much of the series but it’s time to find the next Kevin Williamson. A writer hungry to prove themselves, with big ideas and a desire to create something that can stand the test of time. A “horror idealist” who isn’t afraid to think big is needed to helm this script.

Horror fans love nostalgia, franchises and an ongoing story which is why Scream 5 should set out to do what the fourth film couldn’t: kick off a new trilogy. What better way to honor the history of the franchise than to take the trilogy formula it’s known for and return to it, only with fresh and original ideas? Show fans that the continuation of this franchise is something to be taken seriously by laying the groundwork for future films and have fans craving a further continuation of the series. There will be a portion of fans who approach the fifth film with skepticism and that’s understandable. The best way to quell those feelings is to show that this series is continuing because there’s a story to tell and not as a cash-in or for nostalgic reasons and that’s best achieved by planting the seeds for another trilogy.

Sidney, Gale and Cotton checking to see if the killer was actually dead in Scream 2.
It’s time for the originals to go.

To properly set the wheels in motion for a new trilogy to come and show fans that this is more than a cash-in, its time to kill the legacy characters. The deaths of Sidney, Gail and Dewey have been teased and hinted at for years now. At this point, keeping all three around is borderline insulting to the fans. What are the odds that all three would survive every time? Honor the past by bringing them back and build a future by wiping the slate clean. Establish your new villain or villains by having them take out the ties to the past and then, truly move forward. In a sense, it’s a callback to the first film killing Drew Barrymore, who was marketed as the star, in the opening scene. Use the big names to draw the audiences and then wow them by using the “star power” to establish the characters that will carry the narrative to its ultimate destination.

To maintain a familiar feeling, Scream 5, and any future sequels do need to honor by a few series staples, so it doesn’t turn into a different franchise in a sense. Scream succeeded because it was a slasher and a “whodunnit?”, all while implementing social commentary, humor, suspense over gore, a desire to pay homage to the genre and most importantly, being clever. Scream didn’t need over the top kills or topless women because they had suspense and well-rounded characters. Unlike other slashers cast whose cast was nothing more than a body count, the Scream films made you mourn every death because they gave you a reason to care about every character. They could have easily been someone you knew. When the Scream films succeeded, it was due to scripts that favored storytelling over “moments”. Maintaining that mindset is a must for the new film or films to work. Scream left audiences to feel like they had been on a ride, more than just a scary movie. You walked out of a Scream film thinking about the world at large, remembering why you loved the genre AND looking over your shoulder. If that magic can’t be recreated, then don’t bother.

Ghostface holding a bloody knife preparing to attack.
The iconic Ghostface

There’s a goldmine of material for Scream 5 to work with, in terms of how the world has changed over the years since the first film captivated audiences way back when. Even looking at how horror as a genre has evolved over the years could provide worthwhile inspiration. I fear that they’ll go the reboot or remake route. Starting with the idea of a remake, sure it could make for a fun film, but it’s lazy and Scream is known for being anything but lazy. Same with a reboot. The past has to be acknowledged for longtime fans of this particular franchise to believe in it. You can still reboot in a sense but do it the right way and kill off the legacy characters (onscreen) so a new path can be formed. Anything less will be met with apathy.

Scream holds a special place in the hearts of horror fans, particularly in my age range. The first film brought life back to the genre after a few down years and felt like an instant classic. For the most part, the sequels haven’t disappointed either, except for perhaps the last film. Bad sequels have tarnished countless horror franchise, and if Scream 5 is going to happen, the last thing anyone wants to see is the series that so many hold in such high esteem die a painful death after a bad return to the big screen. If we’re doing this, let’s go big and shake up the genre once again.

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Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

7 Comments

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  1. Social commentary was a big part of Scream 4. The whole motivation of the killer was out of a desire to be famous, to have fans instead of friends. This was a reflection of social media, how many likes we can get, and how many followers we have. It was actually one that had the most social commentary. 3 was the one that was lacking in it and retconned the idea narrative to create a story line.

  2. It seems you didnt understand anything, man. Killing the three main characters? are you serious? that’s the worst idea I have ever heard about Scream 5… Pay attention to this: Scream without those three is not Scream. It would be a piece of shit which would be like Stab or a film with a worse quality. If you watched the Scream series you can easily imagine the kind of shit you are asking for Scream 5: a stupid and nonsense film…

  3. Uhm, Kevin Williamson was bamboozled out of his own intellectual property by the Weinsteins. They ruined 3 & 4 with their meddling. Bring Kevin back with a new writer for collaboration. And get a director from Blumhouse!

  4. You make really good points. I do think killing off main characters could be a good idea but it could only work if they get killed in the movie , but there’s gotta be a great story to support that idea . If they decide to create new movie with all new cast that’s a very risky move and we could end up with a big mess like that scream tv show. My biggest fear is that this pot of gold could end up in the hands of a crappy director and writer . I agree with previous comments I think they should approach Kevin and get good second writer to help him .

    As far as scream 4 being the least favorite I don’t agree with that . Scream 3 was the worst movie . You could watch scream , scream 2 and skip scream 3 to watch scream 4 and it would make more sense. Scream 3 lack creativity in the writing. The killer in scream 3 makes no sense you could tell it wasn’t written by the same person Ehren Kruger didn’t do a good job . Scream 4 in the other hand makes more sense . They brought Kevin back . I think he did a good job on adapting the originality of the franchise to the new social media era .

    I do agree that bringing the 3 main characters just to kill them is a great idea OR bring them as the killer/killers . It would definitely be a big twist and shock the audience but again we need a good director and bring Kevin back . I’m pretty sure Kevin won’t be close to the idea of having Gale or Sydney as the killers . He already had that idea with scream 2 . Gale was supposed to be the killer.

    I remember watching that cinema club scene in Scream 4 where Sydney and Gale were asking about that party. The way they look at each other I thought they were the killers. Also in scream 4 you really see how Sydney character is loner . Her assistant described her as a loner that doesn’t drink or gets laid. So basically she has no one and in scream 4 they pretty much killed most of her family . They didn’t mentioned her dad in scream 4 but it’s been 10 years so pretty sure he’s dead too. You would think someone who’d been going through so much it would be mentally unstable by now . So I can see her turning into a crazy person I mean she’s already a killer anyway. She’s been killing all the psychos . Gale could be a killer too in the new movie . As far as Dewey I don’t know but I’m pretty sure he could never be the killer . lol

  5. Scream 3 and Scream 4 are truly awful films. In fact, I tried watching Scream 4 again last week and it was painful. Once the story moved to Kirby’s house in the third act I had to turn it off because the whole thing was such a drag and a waste of my time.

    The problem’s with Scream 3 are obvious: It was neither funny nor scary, the kill’s were extremely low-impact and a far cry from the haunting deaths of the original, and the end reveal was so lame it’s remarkable that Wes Craven, the producers, and the rest of the crew had the balls to commit it to film.. (A long lost sibling reveal? Really?). It just wasn’t a scream movie, but rather the product of circumstance: The creator of the IP refused to return, it was developed in an era where studio meddling was rampant and before social media existed where fans had a direct voice to creators to keep checks and balances, and also was produced at a time when violence in film was being highly criticised.

    Scream 4 is a more complex situation as Kevin Williamson was actually involved in the beginning and wrote several drafts. Unfortunately due to meddling from the evil Weinstein bros and better opportunities coming up Williamson decided to leave the project. The film we ended up getting was predominantly written by Wes Craven & Ehren Krueger (writer of Scream 3) with re-writes by Scott Derickson (director of Doctor Strange, Sinister etc.) but still based on those early drafts by Williamson, despite the fact Williamson retained sole screenwriting credit (which I truly believe was a marketing ploy by the Weinsteins who were desperate for fan approval after bungling Scream 3). This is why the film suffers from the same tonal issues as Scream 3, yet still retains moments of genius: The fake stab openings were hilarious and brutal (even if the real opening with Jenny & Marnie was lame and non-sensical), and Olivia’s death would have been a brilliant twist had it not been completely spoiled by the trailers.

    All of this is to say the franchise has simply had enough at this point. There is no way forward after Scream 4. To do so would be too ridiculous to even consider and if it were the case then the franchise may as well succumb to the logic of cartoons, because that is all it could ever hope to be.

    My approach to another instalment in this franchise would be to retcon Scream 3 & 4 à la “Halloween 2018” & give us the final instalment in the trilogy the fans actually deserve. This seems like the only logical move to me yet I doubt it will happen though. People would likely take offence to retconning the films of a dead horror icon, and I must admit I don’t like the idea either, but I am 100% sure anything else would just be a total disappointment.

    If my idea were to come to fruition (which it won’t) my ideal situation would be this: Bring back Kevin Williamson to ensure the film retains the flavor and wit of the originals, but bring on a younger co-writer to help keep it fresh. Someone like Ari Aster would be perfect for this.. the dude is known for haunting high-impact horror and dealing with deliciously taboo subject matter, something I believe another Scream fillm would need in order to stay relevant. But he’s too much of an auteur so don’t expect anything like that, I’m just talking in idealisms here.

    Anything else story was is completely on the table: Kill Sidney, Dewey, and Gale or give them a happy ending, I do not care! Whatever makes sense for the story.. just make a fantastic horror movie with inventive kills, entertaining dialogue, and some light humour sprinkled throughout. Make the characters feel authentic.. the characters in scream 3 & 4 were in this awful situation and yet completely callous and unconcerned with the fact that their friends were dropping like flies.. it made no sense! (for a better breakdown of these issues I’d highly recommend reading Roger Ebert’s reviews).

    In the likely event this isn’t the direction the studio goes in they should just do a hard franchise reboot and forget about the OG characters. I’m not saying this has a high likelihood of turning out good but it sounds a lot better to me than forcing Sydney into another encounter with a mask wielding psychopath.. frankly even 3 encounters is a little silly, but 5? and potentially 6 or 7 if a new trilogy is the goal? hell no. Leave those characters alone.

    Sorry for the rant. I know I’m probably in the minority here as most Scream fans seem to just want to see more of the same and Scream 3 & 4 definitely have a dedicated base of supporters, soooo… yeh. It is what it is.

    At least we will always have Scream and Scream 2!!! At this point, and likely forever.. Scream 2 will be the end of Sidney’s story for me personally. I’d love to see williamson’s planned trilogy be fulfilled but if this cannot be I am happy with Scream 2 being the ending. 🙂

  6. Like someone said here, social commentary was a big part of Scream 4, which was a huge improvement on its predecessor. Scream 3 is by far the weakest in the franchise.
    As for 5, I’d focus first on making a solid stand-alone movie, in case things don’t go as planned and they don’t get to make more movies. If it is in fact a sequel and Neve returns, I *really* hope it’s not to just die. That would be unforgivable for me, a huge series fan. She’s gotten so badass as the movies progressed. It would be like reliving Dimension Film’s disastrous Halloween Resurrection all over again. If I were to “kill” any of the original trio for dramatic purposes or for just shaking things up it’d be Dewey; dude’s ALWAYS late for everything anyway… And finally, killer(s) can’t be Sidney’s long lost whatever.

  7. I think killing all three main characters is stupid. If you going to do that. Dont bring them back. Or just dont make the movie at all. Sydney been through alot, why kill her. I think Dewey should die and gail and Sydney survive. I think, that make fans say, shit no one safe. If not, have dewey and Gail not to return. Just have Sydney left by herself with bunch of nee people.

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