After over 10 years since the last Scream film was released, a new installment premiered in movie theatres in January 2022. Not only was it a worthy addition to one of cinema’s most unique franchises, there is no doubt it was time for a return to Woodsboro.
It’s no secret that in the vast world of scary movies, the Scream series is unlike every other franchise. One thing that sets it apart is that every individual film has a unique flavor to it. Despite having several recurring characters, each entry manages to feel like its own individual installment that seems original each time. That’s because unlike other horror franchises like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Halloween, the killer at the heart of the story changes for each Scream film, which means the plotline and story for each film has to be unique.
But what truly sets Scream films apart is the audience. More than any other scary movie franchise, Scream is explicitly made by scary movie fans, for scary movie fans. And more than any other genre of film, the nature of scary movies has changed drastically since the first Scream film because the nature of what audiences find scary has changed.
Other horror franchises are based around a single villain that stays the same, but Scream’s appeal is not only does the person behind the Ghostface mask change every time, the change in who’s behind the mask goes hand in hand with how cinema itself evolves. Halloween is about Michael Myers, and Nightmare on Elm Street is about Freddy Krueger, but Scream is about fans of scary movies. Some scary movies are based on a killer who attacks on a certain day or kills people at a certain location, but Scream is about a killer who’s seen a ton of scary movies and is going after people who’ve seen a ton of scary movies. So the focus on scary movies and the people who watch them is the basis for the entire franchise.
However, Scream isn’t just about scary movies, because the movie experience in general is also an essential part of the series. In the first Scream, one of the characters works in a video store. In Scream 2, the movie opens with a scene at a movie theatre. In Scream 3, the whole story unfolds in Hollywood during the production of a movie. Not only does each new Scream film have a different killer, it has a different aspect of cinema and cinema culture represented within it.
This is what makes the series so unique because scary movies and the nature of cinema have changed drastically. The reason the newest Scream film was more than timely is
because cinema, scary movies, and most importantly of all, people who watch scary movies, have all been through a lot over the last decade. One example of this is that in 2011, the last time a Scream film was released, Netflix had approximately 20 million subscribers. In January of 2022, that number is reported to be 222 million. Another massive change is the fact that when the last Scream movie was released, the iconic Blockbuster video chain was still open, having approximately 300 stores still in operation across the U.S in 2013.
That is just one aspect of how drastically the world has changed in many ways since the last Scream film was released, and it will be fascinating to see how the franchise continues to evolve as cinema itself does.
Grant Butler is the author of the novel The Heroin Heiress and his short fiction has been published in Sick Cruising and Mardi Gras Mysteries. Some of his literary influences include Stephen King, Ira Levin, Agatha Christie, and Thomas Harris. Cinema is also a big influence on his storytelling and some of his favorite films are Jaws, The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Psycho.