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'Scream' directors reveal the death so heartbreaking it gave the studio second thoughts
One particular death in the new film had the studio asking for alternate endings.
Scream is a franchise full of brutal deaths, many of them absolutely devastating for viewers. Sure, you're happy to see some characters go, but whether you grew to like a particular key player over the course of the film, or you can just place yourself in the same scary position, other characters leave heartbreak behind when Ghostface finally catches up to them. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the fifth Scream film which arrived earlier this month, to the point that the studio went so far as to ask the franchise's new directors for some alternate takes to potentially undo one particular murder.
**Spoilers ahead for Scream.**
Like 2011's Scream 4, 2022's Scream is a blending of old and new, pairing the "legacy" characters of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) with a new group of Woodsboro youths that includes Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding), Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), and Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison). By this point in the franchise, it's easy to see the legacy characters surviving the whole ordeal as a new round of Ghostface murders kicks off. After all, they've made it through four movies at this point, so why not a fifth?
But then there's the whole "requel" theme of the movie kicks in, and characters begin to discuss how requels in general work, bringing up examples like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, both films that rely on legacy character deaths to help tell their story. If you're paying attention in those moments, it's easy to start to wonder if one of the original trinity of characters might not make it out alive. Then Sheriff Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton), another surviving hero from Scream 4, gets a knife to the stomach, and everyone else in the legacy cast starts to feel a little safer. Maybe they'll all make it out after all.
Then, of course, we arrive at the hospital sequence, where Dewey fights his way past Ghostface by declaring "not today" and filling the killer's torso with bullets. Of course, anyone who's seen Scream 3 knows that shooting Ghostface is not enough unless you aim for the head, so after getting Tara and Richie (Jack Quaid) to safety, Dewey decides to go back and make sure the killer's really dead. That's when Ghostface pounces and guts him, killing off a character who's survived 25 years of mayhem and providing an emotional gut punch that brings Sidney back to Woodsboro and prompts her to team up with Gale for one more round of Ghostface hunting.
Speaking to Variety about Dewey's death, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (part of the filmmaking collective known as Radio Silence) revealed that, while there was never a plan to possibly kill off Sidney or Gale, the studio was still hesitant about killing any member of the original three survivors, and asked the filmmakers to give them some alternate takes where Dewey could have survived the film. The duo responded by making sure the alternates were bad enough that the studio wouldn't want to use them.
“We very begrudgingly got one shot that you could put some voiceover over, like, ‘He woke up from surgery, he’s gonna be fine,'” Gillett said. “With no intention of ever fucking using it.”
Bettinelli-Olpin added, “Just to describe the shot, it was it was an over-the-shoulder from behind Gale and Sid of a doctor’s legs. It was absolutely not really a usable shot.” He laughed. “‘Shot’ is very generous.”
So, Dewey's death stayed in the film, giving it an emotional linchpin that, while certainly controversial to some Scream fans, ends up working in its favor in terms of shattering expectations. Still, if you really hate that death scene, keep your fingers crossed for the alternate takes to land on the eventual Blu-ray. That way you can put together your own "Dewey Lives" cut.