The Scream series has released a critically and commercially successful installment in each of the last four decades, which makes it easily one of horror’s most impressive and enduring movie franchises. The most recent movies in the self-aware slasher series are very conscious of that status. While the Scream franchise’s penchant for meta commentary was originally laser-focused on parodying slashers, the 2022 Scream and its sequel, Scream VI, focus more on skewering franchises and IP. According to Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, who directed both of the newer Scream movies, it felt necessary to leave horror behind a bit in the new world of superheroes and blockbusters.
“I think that while certainly a Scream movie has to and should talk about the genre, there’s a little bit of a wider net to cast,” Gillett told Polygon. “And I think that is simply because those movies are much more a part of our lives — those big kinds of blockbuster IP, that’s the reality of what’s sitting in theaters now. And so I think you can’t make a movie that’s meta and hoping to talk about entertainment culture, and not fold those things into the conversation.”
Despite the move toward the larger world of blockbusters, Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin aren’t worried about losing the slasher soul of the Scream franchise — a movie with this many deaths earns its horror cred naturally.
“I think part of that is just in the DNA of a Scream movie, because you have a ‘slasher,’ Ghostface,” Bettinelli-Olpin said. “I think it always goes back to the slasher. [...] We’ve kind of gone on from there, but I think what makes a great slasher for us is somebody with a knife, and a bunch of people trying to get away from that knife.”
Bettinelli-Olpin also thinks that the characters’ interest in discussing horror movies helps keep Scream VI grounded in its slasher roots, even if it’s no longer the only type of movie the series’ film nerds are obsessed with: “Everybody in this movie is familiar with slashers. Even if they also like other movies, they also know slashers, and that’s kind of the hub of it all.”
But for all the focus on franchises and blockbusters, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett still think it’s a pretty remarkable time for horror movies, especially the big, fun kind.
“I think 2022 was actually a really exciting year for that,” Bettinelli-Olpin said. “It felt like there was a lot of stuff that was moving away from the last decade, give or take, of horror and getting us into this newer, I don’t want to call it ‘popcorn,’ but like… I feel like there were a lot of big horror movies last year that were just fucking big, fun movies. And that’s really, really exciting.”