Scream 5 may never happen, and to be honest, I’m perfectly fine with that. Wes Craven helmed all four previous films and he’s gone, so it would feel a little weird to just pick up as if nothing had happened. Kevin Williamson has certainly made it sound over the past couple of years like he would never return to write it. Neve Campbell has said that while she would consider returning, she would rather let those four entries exist unto themselves.
But if Scream 5 was announced, I would still be excited. I would still be hopeful because I love that franchise. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be concerned as well. I’d certainly be feeling pretty conflicted if the Weinsteins just came forward and gave us a release date and told us it was happening next summer. It’s easier to let the TV show exist on its own because it’s Scream told through a separate medium, acting as a sort of companion piece to the franchise that doesn’t have to carry that weight on its shoulders.
With an actual, official Scream 5, though, it would be extremely hard to get right. Obviously it would never please anyone. None of the four existing Scream films has. But here are five things I think it would need to have in order to be successful.
Kill one of the big three
This one is the most obvious to me. Everyone expected it out of Scream 4 and I think we were all shocked when it didn’t happen. This is a series that tries to strive for realism, that’s why there’s commentary on genre tropes to try and show the audience that these characters exist in the same world that they do. With that in mind, it’s totally stretching suspension of disbelief that one of the three main characters would not have been killed by this point. The fact that Scream has great characterization is a good thing. We want to feel for these characters, if we didn’t, that would sort of defeat the point. Randy’s death worked so well in Scream 2 because everybody loved him. While fans of the series would be shocked to see Sidney, Dewey or Gale wind up on the pointy end of the knife the next time around, it’s probably the smartest place to take the series from here.
Again, Scream is supposed to be a realistic horror series, so it becomes increasingly obvious when each movie has the exact same structure. Don’t get me wrong, guessing who the killer is and having that third act reveal is part of the fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the exact same thing every single time. I think there’s a way to do both. Most of the Scream films have featured two killers, so why not reveal one of them right at the beginning? Imagine actually revealing a killer in the opening scene, it would completely change the game and audiences would be stunned. Then you’d have your eye on them the whole way through. It would build suspense as you hope the other characters figure out who they are, but you’d also get the reveal of their accomplice in the third act.
Give us a new cast
Alright, I’m probably starting to sound like I don’t like Scream 4 here, but I swear I do. Having said that, Scream 4 attempted to give us a new cast that rivaled and resembled the old cast. And it worked for what they were attempting to do, because of the reboot angle Scream 4 focused on. Still, the new cast of teenagers completely played second fiddle to Sidney, Dewey and Gale and I would love them to take on a more background role this time around. Give us new characters to care about that we could love as much as we loved that original group in 1996. Those kids had chemistry. I know lightning doesn’t strike twice, but I think it’s definitely possible to come up with a new and interesting group of young heroines, heroes and burgeoning psychopaths.
Give us a diverse cast
Aside from Scream 2, the casts of the Scream films have been predominantly white. The second was the only one to really comment on that and did it successfully because it happened to feature several non-white characters. The other movies don’t. Let’s have Sidney pass the torch to a young African America, Latina or Asian woman? Asian characters never get to play a leading role in films like this, so if Scream 5 would want to be as new and different as the series always tries to be, that would be one excellent way to do it.
Give us some great kills
This is what you’ll need to really meet your horror quota. It’s common sense, really, that a slasher movie needs great kills. But—aside from a terrific Rear Window styled bedroom scene—neither 3 nor 4 really had much going on in that department. Scream has always tried to break new ground, but I’m not sure that would really work anymore if it still wants to be the Scream we all know and love. I think it should go back to embracing the tropes it comments on, and focus on being more of an old school slasher that just goes all out on the carnage and creativity. It should still be smart and well structured but also give us impressive and outrageous deaths along the lines of the first two.