By Liv Barry
Generating five sequels, a three-season spin-off series, and countless spoofs, the Scream franchise continues to dominate the contemporary horror landscape. The newest addition, “Scream 6,” hit theaters on Friday, March 10 and features rising stars Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera.
According to Collider, the film’s opening week grossed $116 million at the global box office, surpassing 2022’s “Scream” in worldwide gross by $19 million.
While the plot of “Scream 6” and its predecessors continue to build off of the storyline of the initial film, according to Oxygen, 1996’s “Scream” was based off of a series of real-life murders committed in Gainesville, Fla. Inspired by a true crime documentary about the events, screenwriter Kevin Williamson penned a script based on the murders, originally titled “Scary Movie.”
According to Insider, its name was eventually changed by Harvey Weinstein, but Williamson’s original title was an homage to the horror films that “Scream” drew from.
Williamson was heavily influenced by John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, “Halloween.” The film is referenced multiple times throughout “Scream,” and parts of the movie are even shown playing on the television in the background during the climax.
Wes Craven, the director of “Nightmare on Elm Street,” signed on to direct the film in late 1995, according to Fangoria.
According to Vox, the director’s experience paired with Williamson’s script, which reflected on the misogyny and violence present in horror, flipped scary movies on their heads by subverting typical tropes of the genre. While elevated thrillers like “Silence of the Lambs” dominated the box office in the 80s and early 90s, “Scream” paved the way for smarter slasher films that used the genre to their advantage, reviving horror for a new generation.
Aside from reviving the genre, the Scream franchise is also responsible for multiple generations of “scream queens” — actresses who are iconic for their work in horror.
1996’s “Scream,” which was released in December, launched the career of Neve Campbell, who starred in every film in the franchise, barring the latest release. Although Campbell is best-known for her work on “Scream,” she also starred in Andrew Fleming’s horror film “The Craft,” which was released just five months before her breakout role in May 1996.
“Scream 2” featured Sarah Michelle Gellar, who shot to stardom for her lead role in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” as well as her performance in 1997’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
The franchise continues to generate scream queens for younger generations. Jenna Oretga, who gained popularity in 2022 for her roles in “Wednesday” and “X,” plays Tara, the protagonist of 2022’s “Scream” and “Scream 6.”
Additionally, Jasmine Savoy-Brown, who plays the openly queer Mindy in “Scream” and “Scream 6,” is well on her way to becoming a scream queen. The actress also stars in the horror series “Yellowjackets,” which follows a girls soccer team stranded in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash.
Savoy-Brown is open about her excitement to play an LGBTQ+ character on screen.
“What I love about playing Mindy is she’s a queer Black woman, just like myself, so I’m really proud of that,” Savoy-Brown said in an interview with Logo. “I felt I could just fully exist just as myself, which is a person who happens to be queer, and the writing reflects that.”
By featuring an LGBTQ+ character, the rebooted Scream films pay homage to Williamson, who, according to The Independent, is openly gay and wrote the original “Scream” with intentional gay subtext.
Williamson’s coding of “gay survival” into the script is another way in which the franchise subverts genre norms. According to GLAAD, the LGBTQ+ goes underrepresented in horror, and when they are represented, they are typically murdered.
As Scream continues to churn out new additions, its clever subversion of genre tropes keeps the franchise feeling fresh rather than worn out.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo caption: Dubbed “Ghostface,” the iconic mask seen throughout the Scream franchise is now a staple for Halloween costumes.