As fans prepare for Scream 6, slated for release in 2023, the famous franchise is receiving quite a bit of retroactive attention. The original 1996 cult hit helped launch one of the world’s first major slasher franchises and shed visibility into the slasher genre… all without taking itself too seriously.
The film was clever and funny without sacrificing its complexity or ongoing twists and turns. It let audiences laugh, then cringe, then peek through their fingers as the killer gets to the next character. Though one critic from The New York Times found that Scream’s comedy undermined its horror, the film has since become a cult classic.
The Scream Rulebook
Not only did the Scream films help launch the Scary Movie franchise with other horror classics, but it helped spread the uniquely American tradition of yelling at foolish characters as their demise unfolds on-screen. In fact, there are a surprising amount of unwritten rules that horror fans know to be true—and especially Scream fans, as writers listed these rules out in clever dialogue.
This isn’t unique to horror films or even Scream, but any niche interest. For example, someone looking to learn more about the do’s and dont’s of etiquette for their first casino trip might be surprised by the tips they hear. One of the ‘unwritten’ rules in casino etiquette is to avoid asking the dealer or other players for advice, even if it seems natural to ask for a bit of help.
The horror flick equivalent would be asking a dark hallway, “Who’s there?” Like at the poker table, saying less is a stronger strategy in the horror genre. And for diehard Scream fans, this is one of the primary rules in the first film: never ask who’s there, and don’t tell your friends that you’ll be right back. (You won’t.)
Scream 2: Never Assume the Killer is Dead
Invariably, the Scream franchise’s hold on comedic innovation in horror slips away. However, the films have never let up on their degree of self-awareness. Each new release has kept true to the original in adding another few tips on how to survive a horror film sequel.
Scream 2 took a unique approach to one of its rules. Right as Randy starts to lay out the next rule to Dewey, he’s cut off. Fortunately for fans, the original dialogue was showcased in an extended trailer. Randy finishes his sentence, saying, “Never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.”
Scream 3: The Killer is Superhuman
Each film in the Scream series got incrementally more extreme. This isn’t uncommon for the genre, as one of the tenets of successful horror films is rehashing or adding a twist to a familiar story. This time, the rules were hashed out in reference to surviving the finale of a horror film trilogy.
To survive the last of the Wes Craven-directed films, it’s important to keep in mind that the killer will have almost superhuman-like powers. The standard defences simply won’t do against Ghostface anymore—and it pairs well with the advice given in Scream 2.
Scream 4: Expect the Unexpected
Along with never assuming the killer is dead, Scream fans should also know to never anticipate the end of the franchise. Though Scream 3 was billed as the final installation, Wes Craven and company returned to the studio to bring audiences another dose of slasher glory.
Those hoping to survive the latest wave of Ghostface attacks need to learn to expect the unexpected. Jill, for example, would have fared better if she would have considered that a defibrillator could be a weapon.
Scream (Reboot): Never Trust Your Love Interest
While the latest Scream release has received mixed reviews from fans, the work undoubtedly carries the spirit of Wes Craven’s original projects. The focus remains on bridging horror and comedy, while stunning performances from Neve Campbell and company gave the film added depth and texture.
Though the film lacked the bloodiness of its originals, it kept one of its shining gems at the forefront: Dewey. In fact, he gives audiences three concrete rules to survive the horror movie. The first, and most important, is to never trust a love interest.