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‘Scream’ Directors & Producers Tease How They Took On the Franchise and What Fans Can Expect From the Newest Film

Over a safe and unsuspecting Zoom call, I spoke with the cast and crew of the scary and thrilling upcoming Scream. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpen and Tyler Gillet and producers William Sherak and Chad Villella told us how they capture a new audience, excite avid horror fans, and honor the late and great Wes Craven, who directed the last four Scream movies.

When asked how it feels to be part of such an iconic franchise, Director Tyler Gillet said, “It’s a dream come true and there’s no bullshit in that. I mean, we have been fans of this franchise and of Wes and Kevin’s work since we were kids, and their films are the reason we do what we do and why we love doing what we do. And so, to get to come back to work during such a strange and challenging time and to have it be this thing that we all have so much love and respect and reverence for is – I mean, we are incredibly grateful. I kind of don’t know how to say it, it’s just it’s a dream come true.”

Speaking about the legendry Craven, Director Matt Bettinelli-Olpen remarked, “[his] entire body of work is so important to us as filmmakers, and as fans, and especially Scream, like Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street are two of the most like influential movies to us in our lives. And it’s almost impossible to separate that from any of our work, let alone Scream. So we’re, of course bringing that into Scream because like Tyler was saying earlier, it’s a dream come true. And to be able to participate in any aspect of Scream would be insane. When we found out Jamie, a friend of ours was writing the script, we kind of lost our minds a little bit. So that was before we even knew we’re involved. But then one of the things that’s so important to any Scream is how it speaks about the current state of horror and how it evolves horror, and hopefully, moves it along and and that is just baked into the script that Jamie and Guy wrote, and it’s something that we’re bringing to it as filmmakers. But the bones of that are so baked into the script that I would say it’s one of, along with a couple other things, that when we first read it just made us fall in love with what they had written.”

Producer Chad Villella took it a step further—or backwards, rather—saying how past horror movies only add to Scream’s lore, “I think what scream does it raise that pendulum back and forth between the modern horror and then we go back to the classics. But like Scream is aware of all, you know? And it always has been. And I think it’s taking that comprehensive knowledge and pushing it further and making that accessible for a modern audience is what the fun of a Scream movie is.”

Ghostface in Scream (Courtesy of Woods Entertainment)

Bettinelli-Olpen also credited Jordan Peele’s work in revolutionizing the genre, citing him as an influence for this sequel. Bettinelli-Olpen said, “We’ve talked about, you know, Jordan Peele’s body of work a lot, because what he’s doing is the closest thing to something that we hope to do, and that we love in terms of tonally where it’s fun, and it’s about something and it’s exciting. And it’s not just one thing, you know? Then also we talked about the visual style of Us a lot when we were talking about this just because it captured something very honest and organic, while also feeling like a big fun movie, and to be able to do those two things simultaneously and have a kind of an indie vibe. That’s also a big fun popcorn movie is that’s what to us, you know, Wes Craven kind of mastered with Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream where, where he’s able to walk that line. And that’s the newest thing in that lineage for us.”

Producer William Sharak has high hopes for this movie, assuring it’s for any and all fans of the genre. Sharak said, “I think being such a fun genre for every generation, the need to have seen the previous movie that our goal was that if you’ve seen the previous movies, and you love them, this version of the movie should fulfill everything you’re looking for, which is why Radio Silence were the right guys to do this. And then from a new fan base that hasn’t seen the movies, the idea being that it is first and foremost a horror movie. And if we deliver that with some fun, it shouldn’t matter. And they can they can live this movie, the same way the group of us live the first 126 years ago, which was something brand new that you went, ‘Oh my god, like, I can’t believe they just did that.’ And our goal was that it should straddle that line perfectly, you know? And that’s, that’s what we set out to do. And I hope we’ll accomplish it.”

Neve Campbell as Sidney in the first Scream film (Courtesy of Woods Entertainment)

Sharak continued, “And from where we are today, halfway through our shoot, we have the legacy cast and the new cast to get us there. And they’re all crushing it. Radio Silence is crushing it. And, you know, it’s one of those things where that was the goal from the beginning – to make sure we could deliver for the fan base, and create something with enough of a nod to be unbelievably respectful in what we grew up on, and deliver what the first one delivered for a new audience. And I think that’s, you know, that’s our goal. And that’s the front of 35,000 foot level, that’s what we talk about every day, which is making sure we deliver for both, because it is a long time from the first one. And there is a whole new group of kids that that love horror, and they’re how they grew up no different than we grew up on the movies that created the first Scream, this group grew on the grew up on the movies that will create this Scream.”

“And I also I think that the fun of it is a really great gateway into heart, right?” Bettinelli-Olpen added. “Like the fun of Scream, the Scream franchise is also it’s a really good entrance point to be really scared. The fun made it accessible as opposed to just being scared. And I think that’s a really good entrance point. So that’s our hope for new audiences.”

The newest film in the Scream franchise is currently slated for a January 14, 2022 release.

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