By ROCCO THOMPSON
It’s a red-letter day for fans of ’90s horror, because Kevin Williamson has announced the official title for the upcoming fifth SCREAM film from Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group!
Williamson – the screenwriter who launched the series and gave shape to the decade’s fright cinema – took to social media to announce that SCREAM 5 has been simply titled…SCREAM. Despite Williamson’s recent assertion that the film will do away with the meta cinematic elements of the series’ past, we’re still holding out hope that it will gently lampoon current horror trends, and with this announcement, it seems that the recent spate of numberless, nostalgia-drunk, back-to-basics “re-imaginings” of popular horror properties could be the chosen target.
Though Williamson, who wrote most of the previous sequels, had no hand in penning the fifth installment, he gave his blessing to Guy Busick (Ready or Not) and James Vanderbilt‘s (Zodiac) treatment of his iconic series and serves as executive producer on the project. For William Sherak of Project X Entertainment, which is producing SCREAM (2022) for Paramount along with Spyglass Media Group, Williamson’s involvement was key in getting the film made. “The first thing we did was go out to Kevin and bring him into the process,” he says. “Without Wes [Craven] around, he’s our true north, and his approval means everything. He’s the reason we’re all here.”
For directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (the filmmakers behind 2019’s Ready Or Not, who, along with producer Chad Villella make up Radio Silence Productions), having Williamson on board was a massive learning opportunity. “We spent an afternoon with him and he gave us a whole bunch of really thoughtful pointers on directing from Wes that he had picked up along the way,” says Bettinelli-Olpin. “Just things to keep in mind while you’re making it so that it truly lives within the SCREAM world and has that DNA. It’s something that we have really brought with us throughout this process.”
The directing duo seem to have taken all that priceless advice to heart, proving that the relatively untested filmmakers were the right fit for the job. According to Sherak: “We wanted these guys from day one. [SCREAM is] a tone that is so hard to do, and these guys do it with such style. Coming off of Ready Or Not we were just so impressed with what they were capable of and where their careers were gonna go, from our standpoint, it was the perfect next step.” Gilett gives credit where it’s due, saying “Everything we know and understand about tone we learned from Kevin and Wes. That’s not hyperbole! They taught us everything we know and everything we love about the sort of tonal tightrope of making something that’s scary and funny and emotional and meaningful and thematically rich.” But it’s Bettinelli-Olpin who sums it up most succinctly: “There would be no Ready Or Not without SCREAM.”
These days, a big-budget horror reboot is only as good as its legacy cast, and SCREAM (2022) is more than making good in that department. Marley Shelton, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell are all returning. For the Radio Silence team and Project X, this was all the confirmation they needed that they were doing right by Craven’s legacy. Villella believes that it wasn’t just a good script that sold the film to Campbell and co, but also the strength of Ready Or Not: “[Matt and Tyler make something] truly scary and still have fun with it. There aren’t a ton of filmmakers who have done that successfully. That helped significantly [for the] legacy cast to be able to say ‘okay If I’m going to come back in with somebody that isn’t Wes, they have the chops to do it.'” For the co-directors, becoming a part of SCREAM family was a dream come true. “It really all comes down to the sort of family feeling that Wes created. The process of making these movies has been about designing a sense of community around the shared goal of creating an amazing story,” says Gilett. “It’s clear in that they [the cast] has returned for so many films but also that they just have such a love and respect for what the franchise is. We’re the new kids on the block, and having their blessing and having them involved is just incredible.”
But of course, a sequel can’t merely retread old ground, and the Radio Silence crew assures us that SCREAM is going to balance fan service with genuine inventiveness and plenty of surprises: “Every step of the way there is pressure and temptation to emulate the things that we love about the SCREAM movies. Reading the script for the first time, there was this amazing balance that felt like it was giving you all of those things that are so specifically ‘a SCREAM movie,’ and then there are moments where it’s completely defying those expectations, which is also weirdly exactly what you want from a SCREAM movie. If you are a fan of the franchise there is so much you are gonna love about this. And if you are new to the SCREAM universe, you will fall in love with it the way that we fell in love with the first movie. [It’s] a perfect balance of homage and originality. It’s why we’re here – we really loved what was on the page and are honored to get to translate it.”
The cast also includes Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe), Mason Gooding (Let It Snow), Kyle Gallner (The Cleansing Hour), Jasmin Savoy Brown (Love), Mikey Madison (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Jack Quaid (The Boys), Melissa Barrera (In The Heights) and Jenna Ortega (The Babysitter: Killer Queen).
SCREAM recently wrapped production in Wilmington, North Carolina, and is scheduled for release on January 14th, 2022 from Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group.