The Scream franchise is back.
But this time, as the beloved slasher series prepares to thrill audiences with another bloody mystery, Wes Craven won’t be at the helm.
Following Craven’s death in 2015, Scream is in the hands of new filmmakers for the very first time. Understandably, this means most horror fans are approaching the series’ upcoming fifth installment — simply titled Scream — with healthy skepticism.
But now that the film’s first trailer has debuted online, the good news is that Scream fans may be able to rest a little easier about the direction of the franchise’s next installment, officially set for release on January 14, 2021.
Ready or Not, time to Scream
Opening with a characteristically sadistic home invasion sequence, the trailer tries hard to sell the upcoming film as a natural addition to the Scream franchise — one that’ll maintain both the series’ trademark violence and its self-referential sense of humor — and it succeeds with flying colors.
It’s not just the return of franchise veterans like Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette that make the new Scream feel like a fitting next step, though their presence certainly sweetens the deal for fans. What’s even more impressive is that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett appear to have recaptured the trademark spirit and style that Craven brought to the franchise’s first four installments.
A quick look back at Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s past work confirms why they were always the right duo to pick up where Craven left off.
New Killers, Same Knives
Scream marks the highest-profile project of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s careers so far, but it’s not hard to see why they landed the gig. After making a name for themselves by directing segments of anthology horror films V/H/S and Southbound, the duo cemented their status as promising up-and-comers by helming the 2019 breakout hit, Ready or Not.
A fast, fun, and savage survival action-horror, Ready or Not worked as an exciting and inventive twist on a Most Dangerous Game-style narrative — one that saw a naive but stunningly capable new bride (Samara Weaving) forced to fight back against her new husband’s sadistic, rich family. Featuring a breakout performance from Weaving, Ready or Not worked as well as a fast-paced, blood-splattered slasher-thriller as it did a satirical horror-comedy.
In other words, it proved that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett have exactly what it takes to direct a satisfying Scream sequel. The filmmakers have not only displayed a certain fluency with action-horror filmmaking language but also know how to juggle the kind of tongue-in-cheek, sharply comedic tone that Scream perfected in the ‘90s.
The Inverse Verdict
Few horror filmmakers are as rightly worshipped as Wes Craven, who defined ‘80s slashers with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise then subverted them with Scream a decade later. This makes taking over any franchise or property he created — let alone one of his flagships — a particularly daunting task. In fact, we’ve already seen what can happen when that goes wrong (yes, we are talking about Samuel Bayer’s Nightmare on Elm Street reboot from 2010).
Fortunately, Scream is shaping up to be a far more effective, successful sequel than fans may have expected it to be. The film’s trailer suggests that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are keenly aware of the high bar of quality they’re expected to clear.
At least the reverence with which the sequel’s masked killer regards Campbell’s fearsome Sidney Prescott (He’s heard greeting her in the trailer by saying, “Hello, Sidney. It’s an honor.”) seems to make clear the high esteem in which its filmmakers hold the franchise — and the legacy they’ll play a part in expanding.
Scream is set to hit theaters on January 14, 2022.