At a certain point, a film series with a beloved cast of returning legacy characters must move forward, or run the risk of becoming trite and repetitive. I love Sid, Dewey, and Gale. But if the surviving trio from the first film continued to feature front-and-center in every follow up effort, the formula would quickly become predictable and moviegoers would have fewer reason to invest in each new chapter. I suspect even the most devoted Scream fans would eventually tire of revisiting different variations of the same narrative.
While most fans likely don’t want to see any harm come to the much-loved trio, it’s easy to see why the returning cast members needed to take a back seat in the series’ fifth outing. If a franchise doesn’t adapt and change, it often ends up relegated to low-budget, direct-to-video releases for the purpose of holding onto the franchise rights and that’s a fate worse than death.
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Fortunately, screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett recognized that it was time to shake things up before fatigue set in. And they did the smartest thing they could have: The kept the legacy characters around but relegated them to secondary or tertiary roles and allowed a new generation of key players to take center stage. And they did so quite smartly. Several new characters are offspring of existing characters (Mindy and Chad, for example), which satisfies the need for new blood but also keeps the memory of iconic characters from past films alive.
That approach serves to mix things up and keep the narrative fresh. And, it allows the franchise to diversify a bit. Prior to Scream (2022), there was little more than queer-coded content and a couple of POC characters that served in minor, supporting roles. That is never the right approach to inclusion. But, now, we live in a more enlightened time where there is greater understanding around the paramount importance of inclusivity and representation.
With that in mind, I’d like to elaborate on the film’s inclusion of an lgbtq+ character. Unlike what has happened in years past, this character’s arc has little to nothing to do with her sexual orientation. And that’s progress, from any angle.
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Historically, horror films with a queer character would often establish that person as the killer or link their storyline closely to their sexuality. And that has the potential to send the message that lgbtq+ people are only relevant in film if their orientation fits into the narrative in some way. That old-fashioned way of thinking about the lgbtq+ community and people of color has the potential to be quite harmful. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see people from all different walks of life making up the newly-introduced core cast.
Ultimately, Scream finds the perfect balance between giving us more of the same and giving us something we haven’t seen before. I commend the picture’s creative team for setting the series up to continue for years to come, rather than dying a slow and painful death.
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