How Scream Set the Stage for its Own Return

Horror has been through many phases. The original video nasty hits, the sequels, the endless franchises. And now, we’re into a new era: sequels -cum-soft-reboots decades after the original movie, with the same name as the first iteration.

Halloween, Candyman, now Scream; these new versions serve a few purposes in the great horror panopticon. Often, they’re soft reboots to reintroduce the concepts and set-ups and villains to a new audience, as well as indulging in a little nostalgia for fans of the original by pulling back in original cast members and plot points – in the case of Halloween, they’re also a slate-cleaner for problems with the franchise that followed the original movie. Three times is a pattern, and with Scream releasing its next iteration in January of next year, it’s only a matter of time before more franchises make the jump into these sequel-reboots (seboots? requels? I’m working on it).

But Scream has a unique place in the horror world, in that it’s always been out there to skewer its compatriots in the genre. The first movie was a play on the teen slasher, the second a piss-take of the sequel trope, the third a trilogy-busting bit of silliness, the fourth a next-generation standard. And what I’m most interested in, from this new trailer for the next Scream movie, is how they’re going to balance the skewering of the genre that it does so well with laying the groundwork for a new generation of Scream fans.

I think Scream 5 (or just Scream, as it’s being marketed) is in a pretty unique place in this new batch of horror movies, in that the self-referential nature of the franchise is going to allow for them to have a whole lot of fun with this new iteration. And the choice to have Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett direct this movie makes perfect sense with that in mind; these are a pair of horror filmmakers who came up in the witty, post-Scream horror landscape and made films that lived firmly in the wake of Wes Craven’s iconic genre-skewering brilliance (Ready or Not being their best example of this).

When Ghostface tells Sidney that it’s an honour to meet her at the end of this trailer, it feels as much like Olpin and Gillett offering the same respect to the franchise which helped carved the way for their careers. And I think that’s what is going to help this movie stand out amongst the long history of sequels, remakes, and franchises in the genre – a natural nod and a wink to the audience is built in to these stories, and, as horror moves further and further into the mainstream and people come to understand it better and better, there’s even more room to play.

Scream is an endlessly mineable premise, because of how much the genre has changed around it. There are always new tropes to skewer, always new stories to flip on their heads, always new ideas to subvert. Even decades after its first release, Scream is as relevant as it ever was – and it set the stage to make sure that it would never fall out of style.

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By Louise MacGregor

(header image via Collider)

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