Twenty-five years after Drew Barrymore hung by her entrails from a tree, Ghostface is back, and it’s gonna be a Scream, baby.
I watched Scream at a young age; too young, most would say. It was my second horror after Thir13en Ghosts, a movie with one memorable scene: that guy getting cut in half by sliding doors. I wouldn’t dare to claim I wasn’t at all frightened, but it never left a scar.
This was different. Huddled on a sofa bed with my older brother and cousin, we trembled and, well, screamed as Barrymore’s Casey was terrorised in the crumbling safety of her own home, pursued and ‘gut like a fish’. I wailed – it’s not only that it’s brutal, but even today, her doomed, breathless ‘Mom…’ puts a lump in my throat.
I’m all grown-up now, and this week, I’ll watch a new Scream film in the cinema for the first time. The ‘relaunch’ has been directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, taking the reins from Wes Craven, who passed away in 2015. After 2011’s Scream 4 leaned back into the gore – a man literally gets stabbed through the forehead – this is set to be ‘the most violent Scream ever’.
Ahead of Scream’s long-awaited release, I sat down with Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, as well as Neve Campbell and David Arquette – who’re returning as Sidney Prescott and Dewey Riley respectively – and the film’s roster of Woodsboro newcomers.
When you think of the franchise’s grisliest kills, a few stand out: Barrymore’s death, obviously; Rose McGowan being crumpled by a garage door; Jada Pinkett Smith’s underrated, projector-lit demise at the start of Scream 2; and Jamie Kennedy’s jaw-dropping van murder. Importantly, the best deaths pack a bit of emotion, something that wasn’t lost on the filmmakers.
‘One of the things that the original Scream does so well is it plays a magic trick with the audience, where it feels kind of light horror because it’s safe and funny, then it actually is extremely brutal and shocking. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, you always kind of forget how shocking it is, and we talked about that a lot – how it’s gotta have that extra gear. Just when you think it’s over, there’s something else,’ Bettinelli-Olpin said.
Campbell’s Sidney has managed to evade Ghostface’s deathly grasp – so far – but she’s seen her fair share of carnage, and backed the new entry’s brutality. ‘If anything the gore, stunts and violence are heightened, because the two young guys are maybe even more twisted than Wes Craven. So, it’s a lot of fun,’ she said.
Marley Shelton, who’s reprising her role as Judy Hicks, was glad to see the fourth film’s nasty streak going even further. ‘Oh, you’re gonna get some good gore. I think you’ll be very pleased. This instalment definitely harkens back to the original, and we were saying Scream 4 as well. It takes place in Woodsboro so it’s more town-centric. But the violence… the gore is there. You will not be disappointed,’ she said.
The trailers teased some of Ghostface’s macabre antics: there’s a tantalising shot of a flamethrower; a brief glimpse of some poor sod’s ankle being stomped; and countless shinks of the killer’s trusty knife. It seems the directors didn’t come to play, with Dylan Minnette saying the kills ‘feel the hardest to watch’ in this compared to past films.
‘I think it’s the most violent Scream movie, honestly. Every Scream movie starts with an initial attack scene, and even with this one… it’s so brutal. It’s great, I love it,’ he said.
This was echoed by almost everyone else in the cast: Jasmin Savoy Brown said it’s ‘time to get filleted, like a fish’; Melissa Barrera promised ‘bloodier kills than any of the other movies’; and Jenna Ortega, who appears to feature in the big household intrusion sequence, described it as ‘a lot more graphic than we’ve ever seen Scream, and a lot scarier and more intimidating’.
When he wasn’t debating whether or not he could ‘take’ Ghostface, Mason Gooding admired how ‘innovative’ the kills are. ‘Kids are woke these days, you gotta really go there to offer them a frightening experience. Rather than shy away or do something that subverts in an ineffective way, we really put the pedal to the metal and ramped that violence up. We really make sure those kids know that a knife is meant for damage,’ he said.
Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s chops for butchery were already well-regarded. If the cast has one other person who can attest to its violence, it’s Jack Quaid, star of The Boys. ‘To your younger self, I apologise: the kills are brutal. They’re kind of the most brutal I’ve seen in the franchise. They’re pretty rough,’ he said.
Like Randy once said, it’s the directors’ job to observe the rules of the sequel: number one, the body count is always bigger; and number two, the death scenes are always much more elaborate. More blood, more gore. Carnage Candy.
Scream hits cinemas on Friday, January 14.
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