Scream is back. And the latest sequel in the meta slasher franchise promises to be the scariest and most brutal yet, especially now that the story is set in New York City and there’s a whole new group of people to deal with in addition to the “core four.”
Ahead of its increasingly anticipated release in theaters, the cast and crew of Scream VI are opening up about the move across the country, Hayden Panettiere‘s return as Kirby Reed and what makes Ghostface more frightening than ever.
“They just keep elevating it… They amped it up in every way,” Courteney Cox says of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who returned to helm their second installment after the success of Scream 5. The two filmmakers are joined by writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, who also penned the previous film. “The writers are incredible and it’s so scary,” Cox adds.
Cox, meanwhile, is back, marking her sixth turn as reporter and author Gale Weathers, who has always had a knack for solving the murders in the previous films. “Gale has a morning show,” the actress says of her character’s newest job, anchoring a successful daytime news program.
But this time around, “she becomes a target,” Cox teases.
The city, meanwhile, is the same place the young survivors of Scream 5 — Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding) — have moved to as they attempt to move on from the events of the last film.
“Moving the core four from Woodsboro to New York feels very of the moment and a generation,” Brown says, noting that it’s a place to “expand their friend group,” which includes franchise newcomers, Ethan Landry (Jack Champion), Anika Kayoko (Devyn Nekoda) and Danny Brackett (Josh Segarra).
“Danny’s new to the group,” Segarra says of his character, who hasn’t necessarily earned the complete trust of his newfound friends. “There’s a lot of skepticism about who this guy is next door. I would even say Sam doesn’t know she can truly trust him at this point.”
The move also allows for the return of Kirby, who finds herself in the mix after miraculously surviving Scream 4. “It was so much fun to bring Kirby back. The fans are going to be so excited about how we use her and how she integrates into the story line,” producer William Sherak says.
“She gets to play this, ‘Is she, isn’t she.’ Like, ‘Is she on their side, or is she not?’ There’s all these moments of doubt,” Barerra teases. “I think fans are going to love that journey of hers.”
And just because everyone’s out of Woodsboro doesn’t mean Ghostface hasn’t followed. “Putting them in New York gives them more opportunities, obviously, to be slashed and murdered,” Brown says, with much of the cast agreeing that being chased by the masked killer in a big city heightens the fear.
“It’s more scary to be in a place filled with people when you don’t know who the killer is,” Champion says, while Barrera adds, “Danger is always around every corner… In the subway, on the streets, in the park, there’s a lot of people and anybody can be Ghostface.”
“It’s one thing to be in a small town, which has its own sense of creepiness and sense of nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. But when you’re in a big city, there’s a completely different version of nowhere to run, nowhere to ride,” Panettiere says of the new setting.
For the filmmakers, the change in location was a way to “really ramp up the intensity,” says producer Chad Villella, while Bettinelli-Olpin adds that “there’s a relentless and rawness and up-all-night thing that we really gravitate toward… There’s no off-ramps, there’s no slowdowns. I hate calling movies a ride, but it’s a ride.”
And that ride includes several major set pieces, including an apartment escape high above the streets, a bodega shootout, a jam-packed ride on the subway and the discovery of a shrine, all of which has been teased in the trailers and TV spots released so far.
“This was a new level for us,” Bettinelli-Olpin says, while Segarra reveals the cast spent five days alone shooting the scene where the survivors attempt to escape Ghostface by crawling on a ladder from one apartment to the other. “The days we were shooting all the ladder stuff was really fun… You could see it in everyone’s faces, ‘That was dope,'” he says.
The attack is also just one example of how “everything feels bigger,” Barrera says. “It feels like a bigger movie in every sense.” And as a result, the killer is “so much more brutal because Ghostface is also exposed to more ideas and more ways of murdering,” Brown says.
And as the cast has previously teased to ET, there’s no shortage of blood and gore, with Cox revealing that “there are more stabbings per person than I’ve ever seen. And they found some new places to get stabbed.”
She adds, “I don’t know how Ghostface’s arm didn’t fall off. I’ve never seen more stabbings… It was unbelievable.”
Scream VI debuts in theaters on March 10.
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