The first Scream 6 trailer is here, and it's a tantalizing glimpse at the self-aware slasher series' sixth outing.
In the footage, which you can watch above, the returning Sam (Melissa Barrera), her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega), twins Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown), and newcomer Josh Segarra's David are stalked on a New York City subway by the iconic – and terrifying – visage of Ghostface. As the lights flicker, that eerie white mask gets closer, and things don't look good for Mindy.
Total Film sat down with directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and executive producer Chad Villella (collectively known as Radio Silence) to break down the Scream 6 trailer and talk legacy sequels, relocating the franchise to New York City, the return of Hayden Panettiere's Kirby and Courteney Cox's Gail Weathers, and the absence of Neve Campbell, who will not be returning as Sidney Prescott for the new film. Our full conversation is below, edited for length and clarity.
Total Film: This film relocates to New York City, similar to how Scream 3 relocated to Hollywood, which gives you a whole new playground. We see in the trailer this really tense subway sequence. How else is the city going to factor into the story and the kills?
Chad Villella: The city is definitely a feature within the world of Scream 6. We really wanted to embrace it, but not in a touristy way, in a way that is a lived-in city. Like, this is a city that has been around for years and years and there's millions of people around. So you're even more isolated sometimes when you're lost in the crowd, and I think that's something we really wanted to embrace with this one and develop some of the scares that way, some of the kills that way, some of the Ghostface attacks that way, and just really utilize all of the elements of city life and buildings that are in plain sight that you may not really pay attention to and walk around, and go from there.
We also see Mindy getting attacked. Should we be worried about her? That does not look like a great situation…
Tyler Gillett: It's a Scream movie, so who knows!
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: You should be worried about everybody.
Villella: Always be worried about everybody!
Everyone also seems very subdued, which is understandable after what happened in the previous film – you can imagine that they are very traumatized. Can you talk about how the events of Scream 5 feed into this?
Bettinelli-Olpin: This is very much a direct sequel, so it's the characters dealing with what they had to go through in the last movie. That's a big part of this one. It really pushes this story forward.
There are some new characters joining the lineup and we see Josh Segarra in the trailer. What can you say about how they change the movie's dynamic?
Gillett: One of the fun things about any Scream movie is anybody within and outside of the core group of characters – it's all about rounding out the suspect list and making the whodunnit a whodunnit. One of the things that we said every day on the set of this movie was that we'd managed to capture lightning in a bottle again with the cast. We felt so lucky and so grateful to have had the experience that we had making Scream 5 and bringing that special group of people together that I think worked together, and it became such a close family. Of course, when you're then doing the next thing, you hope to capture that same energy and I think we nailed it again with this one.
We love all of these new characters and the people who came in to play these new characters and I think audiences are going to be really excited by how they're used and how they become part of this Scream group. One of the most fun and exciting things about making this project is watching those relationships evolve on screen and off screen. People are going to be really surprised and excited about how we're playing with all of those characters.
We're talking about new characters, but we also have a legacy character coming back with Gale. What does Scream 6 have in store for her? Are we going to see a new side to her because she doesn't have Dewey and Sidney with her anymore?
Gillett: I think there is an opportunity in this story to really dig into Gale's world and, of course, post-Scream 5, having lost someone so dear to her, there's a lot of emotional story to unpack with her character, and people will definitely see that work in this project. Look, we can't say enough about how incredible Courteney is. Every time she shows up in anything, she totally brings it. And Gale is just so fun to watch as that character. People are going to be really, really thrilled by the story that we're telling with her in this one.
Talking about the legacy characters – when you learned that Neve Campbell wasn't coming back, were you worried?
Villella: I wouldn't say worried. But we are massive fans of Neve Campbell and what Sidney Prescott is in the Scream universe. Everything we did on Five was because we were fans of hers for years and years and years in the Scream legacy. So I think that 'worried' is not the right word. We played the hand that we were dealt. And we're very, very proud of the movie that we made, and the way that the entire cast bonded and came together on this new one and creating that thing and keeping that family element alive was very important to us.
What does Scream look like without Sidney? Is it like the previous film, and the focus is now on the new people?
Bettinelli-Olpin: Yeah, we got to really explore and do a lot of character building in this one. It was really fun to create these new characters in a really cool and exciting way. Like what Tyler was saying, watching that family grow on camera and off is just a wonderful experience.
Do you think there is an opportunity for Neve and Sidney to come back in the future?
Bettinelli-Olpin: It's Scream, of course!
Gillett: We brought back Billy Loomis!
Talking about this really does bring to mind the Scream legacy and Wes Craven, and that must come with a lot of pressure. Your film was really well received, but did you feel pressure making a follow-up now? Or are you just in the zone and in the groove of it?
Gillett: There's always pressure when you're a part of something that you love so much. I don't think we treated this any differently. What's exciting about this is having made the last one and knowing that the assignment of that movie was to not only make something we love, but that was also really honoring Wes and Kevin [Wlliamson, Scream writer]'s legacy of the previous movies. We're really proud of how that movie does that and how that story does that.
Part of it, too, is that this movie is coming out really, really quickly after the last one, that we had to challenge ourselves and we had to challenge the formula of these movies in a different way. And that was really exciting to us. We think that fans and people who are new to the franchise are going to feel all of the things that they love about the Scream movies in this movie, but there are some really cool surprises that we think are definitely our flavor and our take on it, but also still exist in the world of these movies. That was the balancing act of this project, was making something that feels as much a part of the franchise as we can, but also surprising and interesting and really having a reason to exist. I don't think people want to see, especially with this franchise, the same thing on repeat and we took that assignment very seriously when we made this.
The previous Scream, like with all the Scream films, got very meta talking about the requel and the legacy sequel. This is a sequel to a requel. How did you go about approaching that?
Bettinelli-Olpin: The movie is aware of itself. But we were really careful on this one to make sure that we were telling a story that wasn't just meta, that it also existed on its own. Because again, we wanted to make sure that this wasn't just a retread of what we did in Scream 5, and that was part of it. But it's not Scream if it's not aware of itself and having fun with those tropes. So we definitely do lean into them still.
Talking about this as a legacy sequel, in the horror movie landscape right now, there are a lot of reboots and re-imaginings. The Halloween trilogy just finished, there's the Chucky TV show, we've got new Exorcist movies coming. What do you think makes your Scream continuation different from these and stand out from this trend that we're seeing?
Gillett: Something built into the DNA of Scream that gives it legs is the idea that anyone can put on that mask and be the killer. I think that just opens up the door for an infinite number of possibilities, and I think that's one of the reasons why the films are so beloved, and why they will continue and there's room for them to continue, because there's always some interesting twist on what that story is, what that motive might be. And that lends itself to bringing back legacy and telling the story of the past, but also, like we're doing, bringing in the new group of characters and making it feel like it's evolving into our modern understanding of what horror movies are. And so I think that it's really something unique to Scream that is just a super fun thing to play with that maybe you don't have in all franchises.
Villella: I would also add that there's a whodunnit element to Scream, because we could talk about the horror and talk about the gore and talk about the kills all we want, but there's a murder mystery at the core of it that I think really resonates with audiences. And it's always somebody different, it's always something different, so I think that keeps audiences coming back and staying invigorated with the franchise.
Bettinelli-Olpin: There is a real murder mystery resurgence right now.
Speaking about legacy sequels more generally, this year we've had Top Gun 2, we've got Indiana Jones 5 next year, we've even had the Star Wars shows bringing back the classic characters. What are your thoughts on that, considering that you are in a similar area? Do you think this is just pure nostalgia, or do you think there's a real craving to see something new from these franchises that audiences love?
Bettinelli-Olpin: It's something we talk about a lot because we're conflicted on it, honestly. We grew up in an era where movies were always fresh and new, and you never knew what you were going to get and that was exciting. And the landscape has changed, and one of the things that's really cool about a lot of these, the reboots, the requels, all that stuff of which we are a part of, is that a lot of filmmakers, including ourselves, are trying to make original stories within that context. The landscape changes, you change with it. And for us, it's like, as long as the stories feel fresh and exciting and new, and there's a reason for them, then great, we're there for it. But Indiana Jones 5, [I'm there] opening day. [Laughs]
We also have to talk about Ghostface. What can you tell us about them this time around? We've heard that the kills might be a bit bloodier, is that true? Are we going to see the blood flying?
Villella: Yes. [Laughs]
Gillett: I think we can say that, because of the setting, this Ghostface, there just has to be a level of brazenness. To set a movie in a city with people around, there has to be a level of confidence and brutality to make that character believable in that setting. And he's terrifying. [Laughs] But there was a real opportunity to use the setting and these set pieces to make him scary in a different way. But the teaser is one of many, many fun set pieces that are in this movie.
Villella: And we are bringing back Roger Jackson as the voice of Ghostface, so even though Ghostface has evolved a little, we still have that consistency of who's been voicing Ghostface for the last 26, 27 years. And that's really nice to keep his involvement with this movie.
In the previous film, there was a lot of secrecy – even the cast didn't know who Ghostface was. Is that the same this time around, are you keeping that going?
Bettinelli-Olpin: We didn't really do that on this one. We tried it on the last one and are still not convinced that people didn't know when they said they didn't know. So this one, we said let's just lean into it and all make this together.
Also in this film, we're going to see the return of Kirby. She's such a fan-favourite character and people have been wanting her back for so long. Why did you decide on bringing her back now?
Gillet: We tried to in the last one. We had a conversation with her on the last one. We're just huge fans of Hayden, number one. And we also were aware as fans of the Scream movies that there has been a long conversation about whether she survived the events of Scream 4. On the last movie, we just loved the idea of providing some answer to that question. And certainly having any opportunity to work with somebody like Hayden was one that we would jump at and did jump at. She's every bit as incredible as you think she is and she's awesome in this movie. We're as excited to see Kirby back as all the fans. It was so fun to walk onto set and see her doing her thing. We're just so thrilled that she got to be a part of this.
Wednesday on Netflix is really blowing up right now – everyone loves that dance scene – and Jenna Ortega is back from Scream 5. What can you tell us about her role in Scream 6?
Bettinelli-Olpin: It's like we were talking about earlier, all the characters from the previous one – there's a lot more character work in this movie because of the nature of the story, and so you really get to know her character, Tara Carpenter, in this movie in a really great way. Jenna just knocked it out of the park. We couldn't say enough great things about her. We just adore her.
We've got Sam coming back as well – I really loved the sister bond between her and Jenna Ortega's Tara. Are we going to see that again in this film? Are they still very close and very protective of each other?
Bettinelli-Olpin: Yeah, the sister story is a big part of this. That's something that was really special to us in Scream 5. In this one, to [writers] Guy [Busick] and Jamie [Vanderbilt]'s credit, they really dove into that in the script in a big way. Yes, there's a lot of the sisters in this.
You also reunited with Samara Weaving for this film. How was that, was it exciting to work together again?
Villella: Honestly, the best. We're huge Samara fans, we love working with her. It was nice working with her again after a couple year hiatus between Ready or Not and this movie. We just love what she brought to this movie and this character and we really think audiences will dig what she did as well.
Scream 6 hits theaters on March 10, 2023. In the meantime, check out our guide to all the other upcoming major movie release dates for everything else there is to get excited about.