| Last updated
More than five years after Wes Craven’s death, Neve Campbell has returned to Woodsboro without him – she thinks the master of horror ‘would be proud’ of Scream.
That honour isn’t insincere; how else would you describe the creator of Nightmare on Elm Street, with Freddy Krueger as its demented, dream-invading puppet; the crafter of gnarly cult classics like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes; and arguably the superlative pop culture horror series, Scream.
In August 2015, four years after Scream 4, Craven passed way. Plans for a fifth film were thrown into limbo until 2020, when Ready or Not‘s Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett were hired to direct, with longtime scribe Kevin Williamson returning as executive producer and James Vanderbilt (of Zodiac fame) and Guy Busick penning the script.
Just shy of two weeks into the new year, and Ghostface is back at last. Scream – joining in the Halloween trend of single horror revival titles – sees a new masked killer terrorising teenagers ‘to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past’. ‘It’s happening again,’ Dewey Riley (David Arquette) tells Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). Soon, alongside Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), they return to Woodsboro.
In an interview with UNILAD ahead of Scream‘s release, Campbell admitted she was ‘apprehensive’ about making another entry without Craven. ‘He’d made such great films, he’s responsible for the brilliance of this franchise,’ she said.
However, the defining sentiment in the initial wave of raving reactions was clear: Craven would be proud – and Campbell agrees. ‘To hear that people think we’ve lived up to what he would want, that’s great. I think he would be proud as well, to be honest – I think these guys have done an amazing job,’ she said.
Arquette was beaming to hear such reviews. ‘It’s really exciting. We do these films to entertain the fans, and we’re so happy when they like it and enjoy the experience,’ he said.
Sonia Ammar and Mikey Madison, two newcomers to the franchise, were similarly taken aback. ‘For Wes to create something that people love so much and have it continue on after you’re gone is a really beautiful thing. To have directors like Matt and Tyler who want to honour that and do Wes and the Scream films justice,’ Madison said.
‘I find comfort in knowing that the intention we all came in with was really positive and pure, and we wanted to create a Scream film which honoured the legacy and the fans would love,’ Ammar added.
It was heartening to hear the support from the original stars, but the slack-jawed relief of the directing duo clearly means the most. Both have been vocal about their love of Craven; his infectious blend of whip-smart laughs and grisly terror lies at the heart of Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s work.
When asked how it felt to hear the reactions, Bettinelli-Olpin exclaimed, ‘Overwhelming!’
‘And really, really emotional,’ Gillett added. ‘You always set out to make something you hope connects with people. The number of people it connects with is always a variable you can’t account for, but we’re so thrilled that people seem to be responding positively.’ They rightly noted, ‘It’s the highest compliment right, for this movie.’
In recent years, nostalgia has been commodified and rinsed for sequels, reboots and relaunches: just look at Spider-Man: No Way Home, a mega-blockbuster amassing a fortune on the hype of past wall-crawlers; this year, Netflix is releasing Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a direct follow-up to the 1974 classic. We’re living through the ‘look, it’s the things you like!’ era of clapping our own memories.
For the directors, I asked if there was any temptation to lean into the safety net of what fans think they want, rather than what they actually deserve. ‘Absolutely, it’s a conversation we had everyday,’ Gillett said.
‘One of our biggest fears, certainly as fans of the franchise, it’d be very easy to emulate what came before. Thankfully, what we’ve always known intrinsically but discovered again and anew as we really dug into Wes Craven’s work, is what makes his work great and what makes all of the Scream movies great, is that they take risks.
‘They do something that you never expect them do, and knowing that that’s just intrinsically part of what a Scream movie is, we felt like we had all the permission in the world to take risks and swings that we maybe normally wouldn’t have felt comfortable taking. It wouldn’t be a Scream movie if it didn’t push boundaries in that way, so it was nice to know that that was part of what it had to be, to be successful.’
The original Scream is many things: terrifying, hilarious, wicked, upsetting, bold – but notably, it’s become somewhat of a gateway horror. Melissa Barrera, another newbie in Woodsboro, believes this relaunch has the same potential. ‘It made us fall in love with horror, so hopefully what this movie does is make another generation fall in love with horror as well.’
Do you like scary movies? Scream hits cinemas on January 14.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read