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Scream directors on following Wes Craven, and making their Ghostface

Scream 5 directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin speak to us about making their Ghostface unique, capturing the vibe of Wes Craven, and what's next

Scream 5 interview: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

For the latest Scream, directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin had the undesirable task of following horror movie master Wes Craven. Despite this daunting prospect, the pair create a sequel that pokes at its own existence while providing us all with a suitably bloody slasher.

In this trip to Woodsboro, the perspective switches to a new group of teens who’re being tormented by their very own Ghostface. After Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) is hospitalised by the killer, it starts to become nobody is safe for whoever is behind the mask. A large ensemble cast, led by the likes of Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Mason Gooding, and Jasmin Savoy Brown, must figure out the rules for a ‘legacyquel’ before they’re all dead.

Old favourites Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) show up to lend a helping hand, making the past, present and future focal points of the thriller movie. To mark the film slashing onto home media, Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin chatted with us about replicating Craven’s tone, what makes their Ghostface distinct, and what we can expect from Scream 6.

The Digital Fix:  One of the things that I really appreciated about it was how well you captured Wes Craven’s sense of violence. Can you tell me about recreating his approach to bloodshed in these movies?

Tyler Gillett: Yeah, that’s really a good question, because it’s one of the things that we’ve had so many people tell us, that this movie feels in a lot of ways more brutal than the other Screams. The thing that Matt and I have discovered in decoding that is, for us, what we were hoping to achieve, and maybe what we were aiming at, even though maybe at the time we weren’t aware of it. was trying to create the feeling that we remember having watching the first Scream, right?

By the end of that movie, it’s so much fun, and it’s so self-reflexive that you forget that it’s wildly, wildly brutal, and particularly that opening scene, the bottom dropped out of everybody. Watching that was like the first time I remember having that specific feeling watching a movie.

The muscle memory of that is something that we were chasing while we were making this – how do you do something that feels really grounded, and is fun, and is part of the game that Ghostface is playing, but at the end of the day, when it needs to go to that place, it’s not afraid to go there.

Jenny Ortega in Scream 5

It was something that we were always calibrating, but we’re happy that it feels scary in that way. That was something that was always valuable to us, and we’re thrilled that it’s working the way that it is.

Obviously, every Scream movie has a different Ghostface. In your mind, what makes your Ghostface unique?

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: That’s one of the great things about Scream, right, is that you get the same killer with a different flavour every time. One of the things that was really fun about this one is that the hero of the movie is the one with the relationship and the bloodlines tied, and it’s not the killer that’s somehow related.

There was a twisting, where now the killer in ours – without giving too much away because people can still experience it, very hard to do this without spoilers – the point of view of this killer feels like the first time in the franchise that it wasn’t just a retread of the things we’ve seen in the first four.

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When we read it, what the reveal was, with the motive, we’d loved the whole script up ’til there, but when we got to that point, it was like a light bulb went off. We all turned to each other and went like ‘Oh, wow. OK, great. This has hit the mark, thank you.’

That thank you was for Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt, the writers. [Laughter]

TG: First time we’ve thanked them!

MBO: First time!

I’m sure they appreciate it! Before talking to you, I watched Scream 5 again with my partner, and one of the things that really struck me was the back half, when we were in Stu’s house, we kept talking about where certain people were in the final act, and whether or not they could be the killer. Can you discuss mapping out that geography to make sure we could map out the house, but not so well that we totally knew where we were?

TG: One of the things that the first movie does so well is that house. It was, weirdly, one of the challenges for us, because that house is so iconic, and is a character in and of itself. You know, people know it, they know the geography to a certain extent, especially people who have seen the movies – they know it really well.

We had to be loyal to the idea of the geography in a way that was not going to break the logic and reality of the experience for fans. But also at the same time, create some corridors, some dark corners that maybe weren’t totally familiar. We built certain sections of the house that didn’t exist in the first movie.

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Expanding it in those small ways create the illusion of what that space is; the door to the basement, you know, where Amber’s room is down that hallway, all of those little things opened up the world enough, and gave us a little bit more to play with. It was really being in that house. It was so specific.

It was written with a geography really in mind, which was great, you know, the idea of where people were and at what time was really baked into the script, because of our familiarity with what that location is. We didn’t have to do too much deep, deep work with that.

There’s a lot of chatter about Scream 6, Neve Campbell has just talked about how she’s been approached. With regards to another sequel, would you want to do more legacy stuff? Or would you be looking to stay with these characters that you established?

MBO: We can’t really say much about Scream 6. What we can say is that the idea that we’re making another screen movie is just such an honour. It’s just incredible. We’re hoping that Scream continues to evolve in the way that it has in the past where nothing is cut out of Scream. It’s not about ‘That one didn’t happen’, or ‘This one didn’t happen’. This is one ongoing story, and that’s what we hope to continue.

Scream is available to download and keep from March 30 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from April 11.