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.
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.
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.