Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter revisits the brand new Scream with the filmmakers behind Ready or Not.
We’re in the middle of a horror franchise renaissance with sequels, remakes, and requels to numerous films from Halloween to Slumber Party Massacre and more. One of the more popular entries in this new trend is 2022’s Scream, and the film comes home on April 5th to 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD complete with informative extras. I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of the film (my full review) despite absolutely loving Radio Silence’s previous movie, Ready or Not (my review), but it certainly has its moments.
Happily, the commentary track for the film is different story delivering great insight, anecdotes, and observations on the film’s production and the franchise in general. Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for Scream 2022!
Commentators: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (co-director), Tyler Gillett (co-director), James Vanderbilt (co-writer), Guy Busick (co-writer), Chad Villella (producer)
1. They kick off the commentary with introductions followed by a question as to who “the Spyglass man” is — the silhouetted figure in Spyglass Media Group’s production logo — and one of them has the answer. “It is an amalgamation, I believe, of Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum.” The two men are the original founders of Spyglass, and the image is apparently made of one’s head and the other’s head. I’m not entirely sure if he’s being serious.
2. There was an early pitch to have Ghostface run out during the Spyglass logo and stab the Spyglass man.
3. Vanderbilt was in a meeting with Barber perusing which properties Spyglass had available, and he leapt at the chance when Scream was mentioned. Barber said it was his as long as he wrote the script. When Busick got the call to join Vanderbilt he immediately thought it was going to be bad news regarding one of their other projects. The pair spent a couple months on a very detailed outline and only a couple weeks converting it into a script.
4. The opening scene with Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) getting the call and being attacked was filmed on both the first and last days of the production thanks to Covid delays. “The beginning of this scene she’s seventeen years-old,” and she turned eighteen before returning to finish the scene. They have nothing but praise for Ortega’s performance and professionalism.
5. Vanderbilt and Busick sat down separately and rewatched the first four Scream films in preparation for writing the fifth, and they made notes of the kinds of things they’d like to see with the new one. When they finally compared thoughts they were surprised to see that the bulk of their ideas were shared between them. Both wanted to return to Billy Loomis’ (Skeet Ulrich) house, and both felt a legacy character needed to die. If only they didn’t feel Dewey Riley (David Arquette) needed to die so stupidly…
6. The character of Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) is named after Vanderbilt’s wife. She’d given him shit for years for not doing so, and this is his revenge. He was gonna surprise her with it but decided
7. That’s Drew Barrymore doing the school’s loudspeaker announcement at 13:40. Other legacy talents and personalities also make “appearances” including composer Marco Beltrami, Iya Labunka, Matthew Lillard, Patrick Lussier, Jamie Kennedy, Henry Winkler, Hayden Panettiere, and more. I’m taking her namedrop to mean that Kirby Reed is returning for Scream 6.
8. Two things that got Vanderbilt and Busick excited were Dewey’s presence as basically Quint from Jaws (1975), and the return of Billy Loomis as a figment of Sam Carpenter’s (Melissa Barrera) imagination. The OG Kevin Williamson told them the Billy concept was the one part of their script that didn’t feel like a Scream movie and that that’s why they should definitely do it. (Bad advice, Kevin, bad advice!)
9. Unlike a certain unnamed horror franchise reboot (Halloween 2018), they decided early on that “everything’s canon” in the Scream movie universe.
10. The “big conceit” of the film, the thing they’re tackling this time around, is toxic fandom. “It was like a lightning bolt,” adds Busick regarding the moment the idea came to him.
11. It was Williamson’s idea to dedicate the film to Craven, and it’s what finally brought him onto the project.
12. “We knew we wanted him to go out heroically,” says Vanderbilt regarding Dewey’s demise, but he doesn’t explain why they ultimately went a different direction. Yes, I’m still harping on this.
13. The framed photo of Arquette and Courteney Cox at 38:04 is a real one taken during their marriage. Also visible in this shot is a small display for Tatum, Dewey’s sister, and it’s a fantastic touch seeing as previous films never allowed him time to grieve for her.
14. They insisted that “Dewey’s theme” make a return, and the music sting sounds off at 38:36. The short piece was composed by Hans Zimmer for Broken Arrow (1996) and was used as a temp in early screenings before finding a home in Scream 2 (1997).
15. They talk about the genius of the original film and how Billy and Stu (Lillard) are so obviously the killers early on, but other performances, Craven’s direction, and the script’s structure still leave viewers uncertain until the very end. This almost explains why Richie (Jack Quaid) and Amber are made so obviously guilty here — but this film fails to point viewers in other directions along the way. We’re certain of the killers’ identities from early on and that never wavers. Not great! On the plus side? Quaid is phenomenal.
16. Quaid took to the character early on and even visited Scream movie forums under the name Stabhead to comment on them as if he was Richie.
17. They hid a lot of 5s throughout the film — actual number 5s — and point out that there’s one in the shower shot at 47:23. It’s on the shaving cream can!
18. Marlee Shelton was stoked to return as Sheriff Judy Hicks, and she wanted to play her as “a cougar.”
19. They’re rightfully happy with the rarity of a daytime kill, but the idea that a cop car would come screeching up to a suburban house with sirens blaring — and no one looks out their window? Kinda silly.
20. The fantastic set-piece with Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) that teases again and again the possibility of the killer jumping out was originally a few minutes longer. It was trimmed down for obvious reasons, but I love that they gave even more absurdity a shot.
21. Minnette’s reaction to seeing Ghostface was genuine as the filmmakers snuck the killer into a take where he wasn’t expected to be. Add in that Minnette hadn’t seen the Ghostface costume yet, and he was legitimately surprised in the moment.
22. The meeting scene between Dewey and Gale Weathers (Cox) led to “a lot of tears,” as the two actors — who have been married and divorced in real life — worked through the scene together. “I remember they told us [after one particular take] ‘okay, that one was definitely not for the movie, that was for us, we’ll get to the one that’s for the movie,’ and they were really working through some stuff.”
23. “This is Easter Egg central,” they say at 56:57 as we see a laptop screen open to a YouTube page with videos titled “Interview with Woodsboro Survivor Kirby Reed” and “Did the real life Stu Macher survive?”
24. The scene at 58:05 with Tara in the hospital features a clip from Dawson’s Creek — a show created by Williamson — that features Scott Foley who starred in Scream 2 (1997).
25. They were worried how their update to the Ghostface costume would go over as the mask essentially has a built-in voice-modulator now.
26. Their bigger worry should have been Dewey’s death scene — yes I’m not letting this go goddammit. Dewey shoots Ghostface three times point blank *and then leaves* the body without pulling the mask off, checking a pulse, etc. Worse, he then goes back to it *alone* and stands super close before being distracted by his phone like a moron and getting gutted for his troubles. The scene’s stupidity undercuts what should be an extremely emotional experience, and I’ll never stop complaining about it. (At least not until the filmmakers bring back Kirby for Scream 6, give her a hero beat, and let her live.)
27. Lillard can be heard at 1:14:11 saying “Hey Freeman, cool house!”
28. Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) was originally meant to die, but they didn’t want to do that to Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown). Good call!
29. That’s Bettinelli-Olpin cameoing on the screen at 1:23:16 as the Michael Myers-like killer on the TV within the Stab scene.
30. There were debates regarding the visible height difference between the two killers (Quaid and Madison) and if viewers would take issue with the discrepancy. “If you’re looking at everyone’s height, the movie’s not working,” says Vanderbilt.
31. They wrote a different ending to confuse potential leakers in which Mindy and Liv (Sonia Ammar) were the killers.
32. None of them noticed during filming that the back of Sidney’s (Neve Campbell) car was left open at 1:29:12, “but at least there’s continuity” for later scenes.
33. The replica house was built on a stage, and they wanted to do the big post-slaughter scene with ambulances and cops at sunrise, but apparently it costs major dollars to create the look? Producers shot the idea down. Apparently the filmmakers behind Halloween Kills (2021) wanted the same thing on this same stage — and were also shut down.
34. There’s a whip-poor-will bird call over the “For Wes” card as it’s a bird that reminded Craven of growing up in Ohio.
35. The second song over the end credits is “I Don’t Want to Talk” from Minnette’s band, Wallows.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“The cool thing about the movie is the subtext can become the text.”
“The third act is a wake for Wes Craven.”
“We all have the experience of watching something we want to love, and we just can’t get there.”
“Very proud of the amount of knife to head trauma in this movie.”
“That’s the Jerry O’Connell Scream 2 defensive wound.”
“It’s a horror movie, and people die.”
“They were excited to be evil.”
“There’s so much exposition here.”
“We’re paying homage, but so are they.”
“It’s okay to choose the emotion over reality at times.”
As mentioned at the top, the writers and filmmakers behind Scream 2022 deliver a strong commentary with plenty of engaging chatter. It’s an entertaining chat pointing out nods and Easter Eggs you might have missed while watching while also sharing a real reverence for Wes Craven and the Scream franchise.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.