After five movies, some franchises grow a little stale. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett were not about to let that happen with Scream VI. They’d proven their careful handling of the series with 2022’s Scream, earning fans’ trust in the process. Going into the sequel, they were ready to take more risks.
“We definitely wanted to make sure we really got to put our stamp on this one,” Bettinelli-Olpin says. “With Scream V, we tried to pay so much respect to the previous movies, and to Wes and Kevin [Williamson, franchise creator]. On this one, we felt that—in the same way that they reinvented through the first four—we also have to do that. We have to take a left turn.”
“We’re in a text chain with [writers] Guy [Busick] and James [Vanderbilt], and one of the things we always talk about is how, right around the sixth movie in these franchises, things go a little bit bonkers and a little bit manic,” Gillett adds. “And so, intentionally, we were like, ‘Well, let’s go! Let’s blow the roof off and do something different and fun and a little bit crazier than we’ve seen before.’ I think we expect it as fans, and so it’s nice to step into that as filmmakers.”
For Williamson, who served as an executive producer on the project, Scream VI is a movie he never dreamt of when writing the franchise’s first entry back in the nineties.
“I saw three,” he says of his original vision for the series. “When I sold the script [for 1996’s Scream], I sold an outline for Scream 2, which had the opening scene with Jada Pinkett and the storyline for the college campus, and I sold a little blurb of what the third one would be. That changed a lot from what I set out to do, but it continued to work.”
When he returned to write 2011’s Scream 4, Williamson’s mind briefly turned to the franchise’s future. Wes Craven’s death in 2015 changed everything.
“When we did Scream 4, I had figured out a Scream 4, 5, and 6—but then we lost Wes,” Williamson says. “I sort of said goodbye to the franchise for good and walked away from it. But then these guys came along and asked me to come back, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. This movie is really great and I couldn’t be more proud of it.”
For the newest cast members, joining the iconic franchise Williamson originated was a dream come true.
“It’s insane!” enthuses Devyn Nekoda, who plays Anika. “It’s an honour. I still feel like I’m dreaming.”
“It’s so surreal,” agrees Liana Liberato, who plays Quinn. “I’ve been a fan of the Scream world for a really long time and I’m just honoured to be a part of it.”
“I never thought I would be here today,” says Jack Champion, who plays Ethan. “I’m just so grateful.”
Actor Henry Czerny may be new to the franchise, but this is not his first rodeo with Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, having previously appeared in their 2019 horror film Ready or Not.
“I was beyond excited, I love them,” Czerny says of the opportunity to work with the directors once again. “They’re fantastic—great filmmakers and beautiful human beings.”
“We love working with the same people,” says Bettinelli-Olpin. “If we have a good relationship with someone, we just want to do everything with them. We talked about it for Scream 5 and nothing really worked out—so on this one, as soon as there was the opportunity to get Henry and Samara [Weaving], we were like ‘yes please!’”
While Scream VI’s cast is packed with fresh and familiar faces alike, its setting is very much new territory, shifting the action from Woodsboro in California to New York City. Cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz was excited at the prospect of bringing the flavour of the Big Apple to the long-running franchise.
“I’m from New York, I’ve lived here for a long time, so it was fun for me to put Ghostface on the streets of New York City and to find ways to make that fun and exciting and scary,” he says. “We were definitely conscious of wanting to give it a feel that represented the location.”
The new setting came with a whole new set of challenges. Woodsboro was full of large houses that lent themselves naturally to extended chase sequences, with characters often running up staircases when, as Sidney points out, they should perhaps be running out the door instead. But take it from a New Yorker that trying to recreate such a scene in a Manhattan apartment will end quickly and in tears. This meant that the filmmakers had to get creative about where and how Ghostface attacks occurred.
“To us, that was the fun of it,” says Bettinelli-Olpin. “How do we make this feel like these set pieces and these chase scenes can really only happen in New York? So in the apartments, which are admittedly larger than most New York apartments so we could have some more fun with them, it was trying to find that balance and try to make the city matter—not just do the same thing in a different place.”
“I think any big challenge that we had, it was mostly about making sure that it felt authentic,” Gillett adds. “We know that New York is not a small town that just a few people visit from time to time. It’s a big city—there’s a lot of awareness around what New York is. So we worked hard to make sure that it felt like it had that same kind of vibe and energy.”
Did they succeed in their quest to make Scream VI feel authentically New York—and unlike any Scream film you’ve seen before? You’ll have to find out for yourself when Scream VI releases in UK cinemas on the 8th of March. When asked to summarise the film in one word, the cast’s answers speak volumes.
“It’s extraordinary,” says Czerny.
“Brutal,” says Liberto.
“Defying,” says Champion.
“Outrageous,” says Nekoda.
As for Melissa Barrera, who reprises the role of Sam Carpenter, daughter of original killer Billy Loomis?
“Bloodier,” she says with a smile.
Words: Samantha McLaren (@themeatispeople)