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50 Things We Learned from the ‘Scream 6’ Commentary

“We’re nothing if not subtle.”
Brett Jutkiewicz Scream 6
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on July 17th, 2023

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 this year’s Scream 6.

The Scream franchise kicked off in 1996 and has gone on to become one of the longest running slasher series. More than that, it’s become a textbook example on how to use sequels that essentially reboot the franchise — a requel! — and find new life with new characters. Radio Silence has taken the reins from the late Wes Craven starting with last year’s Scream (we did a commentary feature on that one too), and now they’re back with the even better Scream 6.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for Scream 6.

Scream VI (2023)

Commentators: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (co-director), Tyler Gillett (co-director), Chad Villela (producer), Guy Busick (co-writer), James Vanderbilt (co-writer)

1. The Radio Silence guys (Bettinelli-Olpin, Gillett, and Villela) were onboard with directing Scream VI immediately after finishing Scream (2022). All they knew from the initial pitch was that it was set in New York City.

2. Samara Weaving was their only choice for the soon to be victim in the opening sequence, and happily, she said yes. They debated whether or not to have her do an American accent and actually had her do readings both with one and with her normal Australian accent. They all ultimately decided to let her be herself resulting in this being her first American film with her own accent.

3. The guy in the picture on Laura’s (Weaving) phone is Weaving’s real-life husband, Jimmy Warden, who’s also the writer of Cocaine Bear (2023).

4. Busick pitched the opening with a Ghostface kill that ends with the usual screen slash only to hold on Ghostface as he removes the mask. Vanderbilt was already in sync with the idea and revealed a notepad where he had written “Ghostface takes off mask in first fifteen-minutes.”

5. The name of the restaurant in the opening is Hasta El Fuego which is the name of Radio Silence’s shared text chain during the pandemic and a reference to Bad Boys for Life (2020).

6. Tony Revolori plays the “fake” Ghostface, Jason, and he was pretty much the last person cast for the film. Co-star Mason Gooding gets the credit for convincing him to take the role. Revolori claims to have never seen a Scream film.

7. Blackmoor University is named after John Blackmoor — the name they substituted on audition scripts/sides to help protect the reveal of Sam Carpenter’s (Melissa Barrera) connection to Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). “Another inside joke.”

8. Yes, Jason is watching Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989).

9. There was originally an MCU joke during Jason’s phone call with the real Ghostface — Revolori, of course, is in the MCU’s Spider-Man films — but they cut it because “there’s meta, and then there’s too meta.”

10. The head in the fridge belongs to the filmmakers’ friend, Thom Newell, who they met while working on 2015’s Southbound.

11. They acknowledge the abundance of needle-drops in the film but point out that they’re almost all located in the first thirty-five minutes… after which we pretty much only get Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand.”

12. It was an early idea to have a house party at the top of the film rather than at the end as seen in most of the other Scream films. “It sort of stops being a Scream movie for about fifteen minutes, which I love. It just becomes a story about these people in college.” They were nervous at first going so long without a kill, but they realized the talent and charisma of their cast made the scenes endlessly watchable.

13. Ethan’s (Jack Champion) costume is a nod to Jeremy Saulnier’s Murder Party (2007). They credit Macon Blair as the film’s writer, but he only starred in it… unless they know something IMDB doesn’t.

14. Some viewers are upset that Frankie (Andre Anthony) — the skeezy guy who tries to get Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) up to his room at the party before being tazed in the nuts by Sam — doesn’t get killed by Ghostface. The closest the film gets is in early drafts that saw him reappear later in the film only to get kicked in the balls.

15. Ethan and Anika (Devyn Nekoda) show up in the park with parts of their costumes swapped with each other. It was a choice made by the actors themselves, and “we loved it” as it helps get across the group’s closeness and friendships.

16. Two of the girls who harass Sam in the park are played by Barrera’s and Ortega’s stand-ins.

17. There’s a second “We Hate Movies” poster at 25:31 as a nod to the popular podcast, but it’s out of focus so they added another one via digital effects to Jason’s apartment at 11:35.

18. They tried numerous other options, but the use of Billie Eilish’s “When the Party’s Over” after the party scene was ultimately worth the expense.

19. The Tara/Chad mini romance was an early choice, and while they knew it was a risk they felt confident thanks to the actors’ charisma.

20. “These movies live in a heightened reality where wounds heal fast,” but they made a point of showing Tara’s hand scar at 27:59 to remind people of all she went through in the previous Scream.

21. It was Ortega who reminded the filmmakers that her character still has asthma. “When Jenna first read the script she was like ‘where’s my asthma?'” She wanted to keep that alive and a part of Tara’s journey.

22. Sam was originally just flirting with her neighbor Danny (Josh Segarra), but Barrera suggested the pair already be secretly dating. She wanted it clear that Sam wasn’t “living in a glass box” and is instead still a human being.

23. It was Vanderbilt who looked at their original bodega script scene with the store owner sporting a shotgun and said “what if Ghostface takes it and uses it?”

24. The guy who gets stabbed in the neck at 33:54 is a stuntman named Jean Frenette who was also in 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles making this a reunion of sorts between him and Ulrich.

25. When the directors first read the bodega scene in the script they immediately envisioned it as Jurassic Park/Terminator-like sequence. It originally ended with the sisters in a cab, Ghostface chasing them, and a car flipping over, but it was decided that was all a bit unnecessary.

26. Dermot Mulroney (plays Det. Bailey) — who kills it here — arrived on set ready to go and “was just everything you want in an actor.” He told them he was going to give them a lot to work with, and “dialling in his performance was so much fun in the edit, cause he’s so aware of what his role is in this movie.” Vanderbilt credits the directors too adding that an actor who goes big like this has to trust the filmmakers.

27. It was originally their intention to bring back Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) for the previous film, but “it was just so overstuffed as it was.”

28. The police station sequence was filmed at the offices of ReDefine FX Limited, one of the film’s optical effects companies, and before it became an office it was actually a police station.

29. The knock on Dr. Stone’s (Henry Czerny) front door is actually lifted from Ti West’s Pearl (2022). They don’t mention it, but the knock shares the screen with a scene on Stone’s TV from 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Kevin McCarthy yelling “You’re next! You’re next! You’re next” which, of course is the title of a 2011 film starring West. (Curiously, they mention that Stone is watching “Stab from 2022, aka Stab 8, directed by Rian Johnson, and he’s sort of quoting along with the movie.”)

30. The scene where Mindy (Jasmine Savoy Brown) lays out the rules of horror franchises was filmed on the campus of Montreal’s McGill University. She was so ready for the scene that she finished her side of the shots in half the time they had allotted.

31. Of the three killers, only Mulroney knew well in advance that he was one of them — it was actually a selling point for him. Both Champion and Liana Liberato (who plays Quinn) only discovered the truth when they reported for a costume fitting and saw the Ghostface shroud awaiting them.

32. They had to get the actors’ sign off for the photos on the murderboard of past killers from past films, and they recall some agents asking if certain pics could be used instead — “and we’re like ‘well that was taken ten years after they allegedly died…'”

33. Stunt professional Max Laferriere “does 90% of the Ghostface work,” and they were hesitant at first with the aggressive energy he was bringing to his performance. They had to “gut check” that this was the right choice, but they quickly steered into it as it turned the attacks to eleven. This is correct, and I’d argue it’s almost the same degree of terrifying brilliance that Derek Mears brought to his Jason performance in 2009’s excellent Friday the 13th reboot.

34. Nekoda did a whopping thirty-four takes of her fall off the ladder.

Scream Poster35. They originally had a scene of Det. Bailey standing over his daughter’s corpse to “prove” she was dead, but it felt like too much of a gimme for audiences so they just added a throat slash on her body instead. Related, I’m on record that the killers were way too easy to predict this time around — I got it right from this poster alone as I knew it wouldn’t be a returning character and the franchise refuses to cast a POC as Ghostface meaning it would be some combination of Champion, Liberato, Mulroney, and/or Weaving — so it was the right call to cut scenes like this that would point an even heavier finger at certain characters.

36. The theater turned shrine was originally set in a warehouse instead, but when the directors found the empty theater during a location scout the change was inevitable. Vanderbilt was iffy on the change due to its similarity to Scream 2 (1997), but he came around, adding “you do what’s right for the movie in front of you.”

37. Ethan eating Cheetos in the van is a shout out to Kenny the cameraman (W. Earl Brown) from the first Scream (1996).

38. They acknowledge the franchise’s more dubious rules, from the fast-healing wounds mentioned above to how it’s canon that Ghostface escapes out a door and nobody ever tries to follow… even when they have a gun! They could have easily added to the list that our heroes never finish off a Ghostface when they knock them down/out. They just run away instead!

39. The subway sequence was shot on an elaborately designed sound stage complete with a hand-built subway car replica. Shooting kills on the actual NYC subway system wasn’t an option, and shipping a decommissioned subway car up to Montreal was out as the weight of the real car was too much for the stage.

40. They thought getting the rights to so many iconic horror movie killers for the costumed crowd on the subway would be impossible, but they all ended up getting approved “as long as they don’t do the thing that they’re famous for.”

41. They all praise their producing partners and studio executives for letting them make the movie they wanted to make. “We keep saying that this is basically the director’s cut, there’s nothing we changed,” and when Paramount’s home video department asked them for deleted scenes they said they had none.

42. Savoy Brown improvised her “fuck this franchise” line.

43. Vanderbilt recalls during the editing process the number of times people commented on Chad’s numerous stabbings and saying “he can’t live!” He was originally stabbed fourteen times in the theater, so they digitally removed/edited half of the stabs.

44. No one mentions how ludicrous it is to try and make people believe tiny little Kirby is one of the killers. Just picture her running around in a Ghostface shroud a full foot and a half shorter than the others…

45. Vanderbilt’s favorite murder mystery novel is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (1939) which uses one of his favorite conceits, having a character you think is dead actually turn up alive. I’m guessing he’s also a very big fan of 1986’s April Fool’s Day.

46. They never mention Neve Campbell, and they don’t say the name Sydney Prescott until 1:42:02 (in the context of how misinformation is a product of today’s world and not Sydney’s).

47. The idea that the killers would be revealed to be Richie’s (Jack Quaid, from 2022’s Scream) father and siblings came early on, and Vanderbilt recalls Kevin Williamson (creator of Scream) saying “it’s gotta be primal, it’s gotta be emotional.” He says they didn’t want to hew too closely to past Scream films — Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, and Scream 4 all feature killers with family connections — “but I think it’s the thing you come back to in these types of movies.” He mentions the likes of the first two Friday the 13th films as slashers with similar motivations.

48. Det. Bailey lets out a scream while/after being stabbed forty-three times by Sam, and Mulroney said after they called cut “that is the first time that sound has ever come out of my body.”

49. The font used on the end credits for Richie’s fan film is the one used in the first two seasons of Twin Peaks (1990-1991).

50. They try and make sure that each actor smiles at least once during the film so that shot can be used for their end credit photo card. This is also the first time that Ghostface voice Roger Jackson gets his own credit photo card.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“Really these movies are just a collection of dumb jokes taken too far.”

“We’re nothing if not subtle.”

“Shout out to the Hot Rod costume there.”

“This is about to take us into Set-Piece City for the next hour.”

“You’re supposed to be safe once you walk in the bodega.”

“There are a lot of short people in this scene.”

“Gale’s gonna Gale.”

“New York’s one reporter is on the case again.”

“These are secretly action movies.”

“Oh they got bruises.”

“I’m gonna point out all the flaws in our movie.”

“We all rip off the same things.”

“I get so excited when there’s movies in movies.”

“We like to stab Chad.”

“If you’re mad at us cause everyone lived, cool, we own it.”

“We’re kind of in the end of Die Hard!”

Final Thoughts

Scream 6 remains a terrific slasher/comedy and my second favorite of the Scream sequels (after Scream 4, obviously), and the filmmakers once again provide a fun, informative commentary. It’s a sharp, funny movie that doesn’t skimp on the violence, and it’s clear from the commentary that both the writers and Radio Silence are all big fans of the genre, the franchise, and these characters.

Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.