The Scream Generation Looks at the Latest Trailer for Scream V

by Bethany Rose

This week, the trailer for the upcoming Scream movie dropped, and it certainly piqued my interest. To provide a little background, I would have to say I am from the Scream generation. Sure, the actors playing the teenagers in the first movie might have been in their twenties, but I was a teenager, and I excitedly told all my friends about my experience watching the first Scream film, making them all equally excited to go see it. A decade before, I was a little kid, eagerly and repeatedly watching the films in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. When Wes Craven died, I was devastated. I sobbed. I felt a grief I never expected to feel for someone I had never met. Now, ten years after the last Scream film, and six years after Craven’s death, we have Scream 5[1], and I couldn’t help but analyze the trailer and provide some of my expectations based off of it and my familiarity with the franchise.

One thing that stood out to me was how much focus was put on the Original Three: Dewey, Sidney, and Gale. Much of the buzz around this film prior to this trailer focused on the “evolution” of the franchise and the “new generation” it was made for. I had mixed feelings. Why couldn’t the new generation be introduced to the Original Three and their story? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say I don’t appreciate a good update of a beloved “classic” movie or franchise.  But, we already had the Scream television series for the new generation (which, honestly, had a perfect first season and was a great way to carry on the concept of Scream while changing things up and not completely undoing anything connected with the films). Because of these buzzwords and phrases, I honestly expected to see the trailer focused on the new group of teens, with only a glimpse of the Original Three. I was very surprised when, with the exception of the opening moments, the trailer focused heavily on the returning characters, not the new ones. I don’t know how much that will shake out in the actual movie, it could turn out we saw most of their scenes and the majority of Scream 5 will still focus on the teenagers, but the usually skeptical side of me is slightly optimistic that the makers of this movie are trying hard to not isolate and upset those of us who watched the original movies when they debuted. Sure, I expect we will have entire scenes with just the newbies, but we did in Scream 4, too, and I think the balance was actually very well done. The trailer, though, had an interesting balance, but more about that later.

Another thing that stood out was Dewey. In the original movies, his character was loveable but goofy. He certainly didn’t seem as strong-willed or tough as his sister, and the original Scary Movie parodied his character with their Officer Doofy. Sometimes when Dewey was on screen in any of the Scream movies, I heard the music that randomly and oddly accompanied the two bumbling police officers from Halloween 5. In this trailer, he looks like he’s auditioning to play Clint Eastwood in a biopic. He seems worn, a bit more rugged than usual, and as much as I enjoyed the goofier, more light-hearted Dewey, I found this evolution (aha!) appealing. It certainly makes sense. All of the Original Three have been through the ringer, but Dewey likely felt an extra burden as a police officer. His job is to serve and protect, yet Woodsboro and other locations he traveled to were sites of massive bloodbaths. He not only couldn’t protect many of his friends, but he failed to protect his sister, whose death is certainly one of the most gruesome of the series. He fell in love with Gale, and then over the years the stress of his job, the shared trauma of their pasts, and Gale’s waning career took a burden on their relationship. In a way, he became another father figure for Sidney, and I think by this point he is completely worn down by the fact that he can’t stop her from being targeted. There’s one other thing that stood out. I could be wrong, but it sure seems to me like Dewey doesn’t make it this time. I think we are going to finally see the demise of one of the Original Three.

If I’m correct, and Dewey dies, it wouldn’t be the first time he died in my Scream watching experience. Another reason why Dewey likely looks so worn down is that he has been attacked by Ghostface in previous movies. He’s survived some brutal attempts on his life, perhaps most famously in the original Scream, where after attacked, he appears dead. It is not until the final moments of the film, as paramedics wheel him out on a stretcher, that we learn he survived. Except, for some reason, my teenaged eyes must have been fixated on the remaining nachos I hadn’t eaten, or turned to my sister as I was giving her an approving grin about the movie we just watched, or maybe my contacts were bothering me after sitting in the dark and staring at a large screen for over an hour. Whatever the reason, I didn’t spot Dewey’s stretcher resurrection. I really thought he was dead, and I can’t remember how many watches it took me to finally spot him at the film’s end. The thing is, as much as I would be sad to see Dewey, or Gale, or Sid die, I’ve been prepared for the death of one of them since an infamous kill scene in Scream 2.

Aside from minor characters, like Sid’s dad, the survivors of the first film are Sidney, Dewey, Gale, and Randy. Randy felt almost as much the heart of the franchise as Sidney. After all, while Sidney was the protagonist and found out the reason the Woodsboro massacre even started all tied to her family, Randy helped propel the film’s notoriety of being a meta horror film, and Scream is one of the top horror films acknowledged for lighting a fire under that trend. Randy was also the film’s resident horror expert, providing characters and the audience with iconic “rules” of horror films, such as “never, under any circumstances, say I’ll be right back.” He continued the rules in Scream 2, explaining to Dewey the rules of sequels. By the time Scream 2 rolled around, audiences knew to expect a twist or two, both in plot and delivery, and one of the first times we got a twist was when Ghostface made a call during broad daylight to characters who were not only together, but in the middle of a college campus where students were scattered around studying, relaxing, and walking to and from classes. While Randy talked to Ghostface, Gale and Dewey searched the immediate area, trying to find the caller and stop them. Unfortunately, the killer found Randy first, pulling him into the news van and slicing and dicing him. He was soon found there, in a puddle of blood, and his death seemed to be a testament to the fact that nobody was safe; that while there may be a generally accepted set of horror rules, Scream wouldn’t always play by them. But after Randy’s unfortunate run-in with Ghostface in Scream 2, no other major character was killed.

Yes, Cotton died in 3, but while I enjoyed his character in the second film, he was only seen on television and mentioned by name in the first, then died in the opening scene of 3, so his death didn’t feel as gut-wrenching or shocking as Randy’s. I think at this point another major character has to die or the series will feel like it’s getting too safe. One of Scream 3’s rule is that anyone can die, even the main character. I could be wrong, especially with the character I feel will die, since I thought Sid was a goner in Scream 4, but I’m picking Dewey because of how his character is framed in the trailer, always sporting that tan jacket, shown in what looks to be limited scenes, and the brief but unsettling clip of Gale screaming and being held back (a scream similar to the one she let out when she found Randy’s body). But speaking of the framing of the trailer…

Something’s up, right? Sid barely interacts with one of the new teens, Dewey is seen briefly explaining things to a small group of them, and I don’t recall if Gale is around any of them or not. With the exception of those moments, it’s almost as if there are two movies. One with Sidney and Gale and one with the rest of the teens, and Dewey shows up for a small part of that one before he dies. And I wonder if I’m looking too much into things, because of all the ways I’ve looked at movies before, and all the rules Randy has taught us, or if this trailer is being deceiving. What if that cold open isn’t even the opening scene of Scream 5? What if we see Woodsboro at two different times? Was Dewey even talking to Sid on the phone when he was mentioning that there had been three attacks? I will be very interested to see if there are parts of the trailer that I interpreted completely incorrectly, and if so, kudos to the team behind that! If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a spoiler-filled trailer, so if some of the items I think are obvious from this trailer turn out not to be, I’ll be very pleased.

Now, to get to what we all really want to discuss: Who could possibly be behind Ghostface this time? While I love Freddy Krueger, and the iconic character is often immediately associated with Craven, the director’s involvement in many of the subsequent films was not what it was for Scream, where he helmed parts 1-4. In each of those first films, Craven provided commentary on a major issue or the state of horror. Scream, as mentioned before, is known as one of the most important meta horror films. Its characters spouted off pop culture references left and right, and not just horror ones. Some of my favorite lines from that movie are when Tatum tells Sid “You can only hear that Richard Gere gerbil story so many times before you start to believe it,” and the line where the teen in the video store asks Randy “What’s that werewolf movie with ET’s mom?” The film is scattered with similar lines and direct quotes from other movies, such as Billy’s killer-reveal line “We all go a little mad sometimes.” Scream 2 was Craven’s way of reminding audiences a horror sequel can be powerful, while also exploring the complexity of PTSD with Sidney. Scream 3 has more of a cult following as a lot of fans of the originals were upset at how much the film leaned into comedy over horror, but Columbine had a lot to do with that, and the film takes that comedic angle and uses it as an advantage, lampooning the horror trend that took off with Scream. I think a lot of fans were hesitant about Scream 4, especially since for many years it appeared the Scream films really would be a trilogy just like Randy discussed in his taped rules shown in Scream 3. I was optimistic, mostly since Craven was returning as director, and I highly enjoyed the film’s message about seeking fame and attention at any cost, putting it above the lives of friends and family. The final shot of the film has a fantastic use of dramatic irony, as the audience is aware that Jill was the killer and her murder spree ends with her death after she once more attempts to kill Sidney. The news crews outside the hospital, however, have no idea what transpired, and we are left with snippets from each as they mention how brave Jill is and tout her up to be the heroic figure she intended. What’s all that have to do with the killer in Scream 5? One other significant thing about Scream 4 is that it is the last film of the series directed by Wes Craven before his death in 2015. Often, when anyone helms the newest entry in a beloved series, they feel pressure to honor the previous films while bringing a fresh take to the franchise. But imagine the pressure of making the first Scream film in a post-Craven world. You aren’t just doing justice to the first four movies, you are honoring the legacy of one of the most iconic horror writers and directors. If you muck this one up, fans will be angrier than Jill when she finds out Sid survived her attack. Even with fans not always agreeing on the quality of the first four Scream films, they were still always, to some extent Craven’s Scream films. I don’t typically get jealous anyway, but I certainly do not envy the people behind Scream 5. One way that they have to deliver is giving us a good Ghostface (or faces, as we are accustomed to in most of the films), and that doesn’t just mean great kill scenes and scarier phone calls. That means we have to have a great killer reveal. We have to be shocked by the killer’s identity, or given one of the best motives in the film’s franchise, especially if this killer is taking down one or more of the Original Three.

How, after four installments and seven killers, can Scream 5 possibly give us the finale fans of the franchise all need? Theories and hopes abound already, including some of my own, but here are some of the many possibilities.

A New Killer: One of the most likely scenarios is that one or more of the many new faces we are introduced to in Scream 5 will be the killer. If this is the case, I don’t think fans will be upset. After all, that’s what we got in every Scream film before it. What we need, though, if this is the case, is a great motive for the killings. In the tradition of the two-killer Scream films, usually one of the killers has a great motive, the other is along for the ride but is mostly a patsy. The first movie had Billy killing as an act of revenge after he discovered Sidney’s mother had an affair with his father, blaming her for breaking up his parents and causing his mom to leave town. Stu was supposedly just there to help him get away with it all. The second film saw Billy’s mom, who got some plastic surgery, lost a significant amount of weight, and began posing as a reporter named Debbie Salt, seek revenge for her son’s death, while Mickey was her patsy. The fourth was all about Jill, who didn’t really care who got killed, save for Sidney, as long as she survived and gained the notoriety that she saw Sidney have after her many encounters with Ghostface, and Charlie was her patsy. So far, the third film is the only one with a solo killer, Roman, who turned out to be Sid’s long-lost brother. Not only was he angry that his own mother abandoned him but not his sister, but it turns out he was behind the original film’s killings, as he was the person who told Billy about the affair between his father and Maureen. Each motive or killer reveal was unique or surprising in some way. We can’t just have a random new character provide a weak reason, but we should be prepared that at least one new character is Ghostface.

An Original Three: Remember that line from Tatum about only being able to hear the gerbil story so many times before you start to believe it? Maybe you can only survive Ghostface killing sprees so many times before, like Billy and Norman Bates, you go mad yourself. The problem with this scenario is that it could greatly upset fans. We couldn’t just have Sidney stand around in the Ghostface outfit saying, “I snapped.” There would have to be more to it. Since it’s been ten years since Scream 4, and over twenty since Scream, the reveal would have to explore what that character went through over time. How they didn’t just snap, but how they slowly descended into madness. I think with the right exposition, fans would be more than fine with this scenario, but without it, this option would be a very risky move likely to result mostly in backlash.

A Previously Surviving Character: Aside from the Original Three, other characters in the Scream franchise have escaped Ghostface, only to never be heard from again. What have these people been up to? Much like Halloween Kills is bringing back characters like Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace, it would be nice if a previous survivor at least showed up for a cameo, but it can’t be ruled out that one would come back for an even bigger role. Three stand-out possibilities come from Scream 2. There’s Joel, Gale’s new cameraman who decided to skip out after Randy’s death, or one of the sorority sisters played by Portia de Rossi and Rebecca Gayheart, as it was kind of a surprise that neither of them were a killer or a victim. Another possibility is Detective Mark Kincaid from Scream 3, who appeared all set to be Sid’s new love interest but was absent from the fourth film. And, yes, there’s even Deputy Judy Hicks from Scream 4, but from what I heard, her character wasn’t that popular, and from the trailer of Scream 5, it doesn’t look like she’s got much to do with the new movie. Even more so than having Sidney, Dewey, or Gale revealed as the killer, having a previously surviving character return as the killer would really have to be well-written for fans not to be up in arms. First of all, fans might see it as a cop-out. It could end up being incredibly hokey. Second of all, none of these characters show up in the trailer or have been mentioned as returning, save for Deputy Hicks, so if one of them showed up in the movie it would automatically cast suspicion on them, and there’s only one possible killer whom I think the writers would wait to reveal until the film’s finale, but more up on that in a moment. Now, all the characters mentioned here are ones that we know survived. There’s one rather popular character who many fans hope returns at some point. In Scream 4, Kirby is one of Jill’s friends. She’s smart, definitely marches to the beat of her own drum, and knows as much, if not more, about the horror genre as Randy. After seemingly winning the classic Ghostface horror trivia game, Kirby is shocked when Charlie gets up from his chair and stabs her in the stomach. The thing is, we never see Kirby die. Other characters have survived a stab wound or two from Ghostface, so some fans say that Kirby potentially survived that stabbing. It wouldn’t be the most far-fetched thing to happen in the series, and a return of Kirby is one that I actually could see as being left out of trailers and any press about the movie. If she did return, there’s a good chance she’d be a new Final Girl for the series, or she’d be Ghostface.

He’s Baaaaaack: OK. You know how sometimes you hear a fan theory that resonates so much with you that you would do anything to make it true. Well, the Scream series has one for me. Sure, it would be way more far-fetched than Kirby surviving a single stab wound, and yes, it would definitely have to be done in a way that the audience doesn’t learn about it until the final reel, but I can’t very well write an article about Scream 5 theories and not mention it. Many fans theorize that Stu Macher, one of the killers from Scream and one of the most popular characters of the entire franchise, survived the first film. In addition to multiple stab wounds, Sidney dumped a television on his face, so he would have also have had to survive electrocution and blunt-force trauma to the skull, but of all the wild theories out there, this is the one fans might be the most forgiving of if it happened to be true. One of the ideas is that Stu isn’t in the Ghostface outfit, but that he has recruited people to continue the legacy of Ghostface, which would make sense as that is how he got started and would account for what I’m sure would be a rather worn condition he is likely in after all the damage from the first movie. Maybe Stu really did die in the first one, but still was somehow connected to this Ghostface and referenced in the new film. It looks like his house is back as a set in Scream 5, so the trailer has already made a nod to his character. This reveal would also potentially ease the pain or fury over losing any of the Original Three. Take a look at the Halloween Franchise. When Jamie Lee Curtis’s iconic Laurie Strode character was killed at the start of Halloween Resurrection, fans were outraged, many so angry that they refuse to acknowledge that film or watch it a second time. It wasn’t the fact that Laurie died. I say, if Halloween Ends ends with Laurie dying, there’s a chance fans and Curtis herself will be pleased with that outcome. The actress even said that at the end of Halloween (2018), she feels Laurie would have been fine with dying if that meant she successfully protected her family and killed Michael Myers for good, but then the fire trucks showed up and she knew she’d have to keep fighting. Give Laurie a great storyline in Halloween Ends that continues the great resurrection of her character from the 2018 film (and hopefully continues in Kills), and I think that fans will accept her death. The reason so many fans were angry at Halloween Resurrection is that Laurie’s death felt like a slap in the face to her and the fans. Resurrection opens with a worn down, mute Laurie locked away in a sanitarium, the result of her finding out that she accidentally decapitated an innocent medic, and not Michael Myers, at the end of Halloween H20. As if that reveal weren’t bad enough, Michael makes quick work of Laurie once he tracks her down at the sanitarium, because she has to check under his mask this time to make sure he’s dead. If Scream 5 does connect Stu to the new string of murders, it has to be done very carefully so as not to completely insult the fans. Randy warned us in Scream 2 that another rule of horror is to never assume the killer’s dead, so I don’t think we can totally count out a return of a past killer. Can we?

Though Craven is gone, I maintain most of the optimism I did when I heard about Scream 4, and that is mostly because of the fans. Halloween Resurrection, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), and other failed attempts at continuing or redoing a beloved horror franchise were bad enough back when they debuted, but that was when fans had limited use of social media, or were still texting on flip phones for most of their communication. If Scream 5 isn’t careful, it could not only end the franchise, but it could be relegated to bottom of the DVD bargain bin oblivion like some of horrors most maligned films. Here’s hoping Scream 5 gives the fans, and the spirit of Wes Craven, something to smile about.

[1] Also called Scream, but for the purposes of clarity I will refer to Scream (1996) as Scream and Scream (2022) as Scream 5.