For the past 20 years we have been terrified by the haunting specter of New Line Cinema's Scream films, but as one of the most successful horror franchises out there, we're left asking: Where is Ghostface now, and why have we seemingly passed on the opportunity to create 5cream? I mean c'mon, who could give up on a title like that?!?
It looked like Scream 4 was back from the dead in 2011 to launch a "new trilogy" of stars and storylines into the next decade of the 21st Century. However, the mixed financial and critical success of Scream 4 means that the sweet dreams of more Screams slowly dwindled into a nightmare of nothing. In 2016 the franchise is all but dead, which is a sad state of affairs given what the films brought to cinema. From gutting Drew Barrymore, to filleting Jerry O'Connell, hanging Rose McGowan from a doggy door, and frying Emma Roberts with a defibrillator, the Scream films have us screaming for more, so what are the odds on heading back to Woodsboro?
Wes Craven's Passing
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for any continuation of Scream, TV or film, is the passing of Wes Craven. The horror maestro sadly died in 2015, and as the father of the franchise, Scream was his baby. Sidney Prescott herself (Neve Campbell) seems eager to do more, as does David Arquette, which a rarity for a franchise's lead actors, but would they really do it without Wes? In an interview in early 2016, Campbell told reporters:
“Wes was so responsible for the success of it and the brilliance of it, and he was a dear, dear friend and a mentor, and I just don’t know how I would feel at the moment if it came around again. It would have to be something really special and really different. They’d have to be really convincing about who they decided to bring on as director, and I’d still have to do a bit of soul-searching on that one.”
Craven directed all four films and had a hand first season of the TV show, to do a Scream film without him might seem a little unjust. However, since when did justice matter to Hollywood? If the money is there, I am sure Scream 5, Scream 6, and beyond could be just on the horizon.
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Continuing The Legacy
In a year where masked clowns have haunted neighborhoods, the viral marketing for Scream 5 writes itself: "Ghostface haunts 2017, police baffled by real life copycats." Is it just the box office stopping New Line Cinema? Scream 4 had a total gross of $97.1 million against a $40 million budget, so it was by no means a commercial failure, it just wasn't quite the figures that The Weinstein Company were hoping for.
Also, we have seen miraculous resurrections before, even with dwindling viewership. Despite saying it was finished in 2010, we are currently watching the Saw films dig themselves out of the grave for an eighth entry. Also, we are under no real illusion that 2017's Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will actually be the end of Alice going against the undead. Even Scream itself had a phoenix moment when Scream 3 seemingly wrapped the trilogy of films with a fitting ending. Over a decade later, Scream 4 was the surprise announcement we had all hoped for. It has technically only been half that time since we last left Sidney, Dewey, and Gale, but you would expect the new trilogy to have continued in relative succession.
Where Would It Go?
If we were to carry on screaming, where would it go? Scream 4 may not have left us with many surviving bodies, but it did leave it with enough questions to warrant a continuation. We never got the bottom of creepy deputy Judy Hicks's motives, so there was definitely more to Marley Shelton's character. Also, one of the biggest debates to come from the bloodbath of Scream 4 was "did Kirby Reed survive?" Hayden Panettiere's character was left for dead in the finale, but fans went as far as analyzing the audio track to maintain that you can hear Kirby crawling to safety in the garage.
There is no denying that Scream fans are at least thorough, and we could easily have the remaining survivors going for Round 5 with Ghostface, although, haven't we been there before in just about every other franchise?
Away from the typical "carry on the story" idea, what else could Scream 5 and beyond do to reinvent the series? The Scream films were always wildly imaginative and not your tired horror trope dragged out for just another film. Admittedly, the films were of varying quality, but as a whole, Scream still stands as a solid franchise of frights, so it is only right it throws a curveball for its fifth film.
Go For Roanoke
We have already seen the whole "actors playing the cast" part, but what if Scream 5 went fully meta and pulled an American Horror Story: Roanoke on us? The real Courtney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell are caught up in someone reenacting the Scream murders. We already saw Craven take on this formula for 1994's Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which was a surprising success, so this could be New Line's memory to the director. In New Nightmare, Craven starred as himself, while Robert Englund played Robert Englund/Freddy Krueger, and Heather Langenkamp played a tormented version of herself.
The best bit about the "real life" idea is that you could bring back any of the many, many, Scream alumni as themselves. Just imagine Jada Pinkett Smith being killed at an anniversary screening of Scream 2 as she watches her on-screen demise from the film's opening. You could bring back Skeet Ulrich from Scream and see if he is as creepy in real life, Sarah Michelle Gellar could talk about how tired she is of being compared to Buffy, or Emma Roberts could prove that she isn't as much of a bitch as her characters. Scream was always uber-meta, so kick it up a notch!
The Scream films also managed to create a whole universe of its own with the fictional Stab films. As a film within a film, the original Stab segment (starring Heather Graham) was first seen in Scream 2 and was actually directed by Robert Rodriguez. Stab continued alongside the Scream films, so by the time we reached Scream 3, the films were up to Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro -- we all know how that ended. They did eventually make a third entry, titled Stab 3: Hollywood Horror and based off Gale Weathers's book on the events of Scream 3 -- it (fictionally) starred David Schwimmer, Tori Spelling, and Elizabeth Banks.
Scream 4 revealed that there were seven Stab films, including one with time travel, so would there have been a Stab 8? It may have just been an Easter Egg, but if you convince the likes of Schwimmer, Spelling, and Banks to sign on, you have a whole new world of Scream films ready to go. Seeing the Scream cast facing off against their acting doppelgängers was a comedy highlight of Scream 3 -- it is just a shame they all got killed off. Scream 3 may be the duff entry in the pack, but the ideas were there. Scream 5 could right the wrongs of No.3.
The Killer Trio
Perhaps the most ludicrous part of Scream 1-4 was that Sidney, Gale, and Dewey seemed not to show many effects of being hunted by maniacs four times. We came to expect that the trio of stars would still be standing at the end of the bloodshed, so it was always an unsurprising finale. Maybe we should take a leaf out of Alien 3's book (said no one ever before).
Scream 4 really missed a trick by not offing one of the original three, or by at least revealing one them as the big bad killer. One idea for Scream 3 was to bring back Matthew Lillard's Stu Macher as the killer, surviving his apparent death and controlling the killers from his jail cell. While the idea was canned, imagine a story where Stu was working with Dewey after he snapped from years of being a loyal sheriff with no thanks. Let's be honest, the franchise has had flimsier motives than that for most of its run.
On its own, Scream 4 had enough survivors for more films, but it also felt satisfying enough that it could be the final installment. Even though Craven and Kevin Williamson were contractually poised for two more films, Scream 4 failed to reinvent the franchise. Williamson fully admits that he had ideas for a fifth and sixth film, but says that without Wes, it wouldn't feel right:
"We got 'Scream 4' and '5' and '6', but how can you do it without Wes? How? That’s so far from my brain now to even consider...And after 'Scream 4' is there even a call for it? Do you start all over and reinvent it?...We have to get new writers, new directors, who do it completely differently. That, of course, would not be me. That’s OK too. I just couldn’t imagine doing it without Wes."
That isn't to say that someone else won't jump at the chance. The internet is awash with fan-fiction, and there are plenty of budding directors out there to take over where Craven left off, but would it really be Scream?
Many will argue that Scream: The TV Series is enough of a continuation of the Scream legacy, but it just isn't the same without seeing Dewey get hacked, Sidney whimpering, or what shade of hair Gail has this time. However, if Halloween can make it to 10 films, Friday the 13th to 12, and The Exorcist to five, then we can limp back to Woodsboro. As the sixth highest-grossing horror franchise of all time, isn't it about time we pulled our Ghostface mask out of the closet?
Check out the twisty opening for Scream 4, and don't forget our poll below!
Should there be more Scream films?