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Where does 'Scream' go from here? Directors tease next sequel will 'play with your expectations'

The latest Scream hits streaming platforms as work gets started on movie No. 6.

By Benjamin Bullard
Scream (2022) PRESS

Longtime Scream fans breathed a horror-adrenalized sigh of relief when this year's fifth installment in the franchise — coming more than a decade after Scream 4 — found an ingenious way to stay true to the Wes Craven-created series' roots. Getting Sidney (Neve Campbell) and the rest of the old-school gang back together turned out to be much more than simple fan service. But the new film's success also begs the question: Where does the series go from here?

Craven already had ideas about continuing the franchise before he passed away in 2015, and Paramount quickly followed the latest movie's warm reception by green-lighting a sixth installment just last month. Directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett will be returning to helm their second consecutive trip back to the blood-soaked town of Woodsboro, but how will they build on their first movie's smart story choices — and all the high fan expectations that come with it?

Speaking recently with /Film, the pair said subverting the expectations of horror-savvy fans is really what Craven's original creation has always been about. And while they're obviously leaving the details aside for now, the next film will definitely find a way to keep toying with all the meta-assumptions and genre curveballs that even experienced Scream devotees are well conditioned to look out for.

"...[I]t gets to what Tyler was saying earlier that just the DNA of Scream, the foundation of what Scream is [is] that it has to subvert your expectations and it has to surprise you," said Bettinelli-Olpin. "And so it has to take a risk. And I think we had a lot of fun on this one being like, 'How do we make sure that we have one foot firmly planted in the legacy and in the history of Scream, but then also try to take a step forward and try to play with your expectations a little bit?' And I think one of the things in this next one that we'll hopefully be able to do is just make sure that it doesn't feel like something you've seen. I think it just has to feel fresh and it has to feel new... Cause yeah, you want Ghostface, you want the killings, you want a whodunit. It's all the stuff, it's gotta be in there. Just in a new way."

Gillett seemed to take that idea a step further, hinting that they're not shy about deconstructing the series ("What's a Scream movie when the wheels have fallen off?") and putting it back together again — if, that is, that's what it takes to keep fans on their toes.

"...[I]t's not lost on us that the bar is really high. We've heard a lot from reps and fans [who say]...'I don't know what you guys are going to do. Like, what a crazy challenge,'" he said. "And we're like, 'Great, watch this. Let's do that! Let's figure out what that thing is that is the challenge. And how do we rise to that?' That, for us, is exciting. That's what makes us go, 'Great. What's a Scream movie when the wheels have fallen off? What does that look like?'"

For now, only Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett know the answer. But as directors who grew up adoring the franchise, they sound wide open to exploring it from more than just one angle. "We keep saying we should figure out a way to make 'Stab' movies," Bettinelli-Olpin half-joked, "because it would be the ultimate ... fulfilling the idea of the meta-ness of Scream, right? I don't know, we think it'd be really fun...I would be there in a minute for a 'Stab' movie."

"Stab," of course, is the Scream universe's own fictional, in-world horror franchise based on the events of the films that informs the characters' preconceived ideas about how the mind of a screen-slashing serial killer is supposed to operate. "The idea that you could make two franchises simultaneously, or based on each other, is so insane," Gillett explained. "And so it's so self-congratulatory, I love it so much."

As work begins on the sixth Scream movie, it's at least clear that the creative minds behind it are fully in on the meta-ness of it all; sharing with fans an appreciation for Craven's original vision of a horror series that takes no terror trope for granted. There's no early word on when Scream 6 (or whatever we'll be calling it) will slash into theaters, but as of March 1, the latest installment is ready to stream as a brand-new arrival on premium home digital platforms.