Scream 6 Directors On How Ghostface Operates Differently In New York City [Exclusive Interview]

This post contains extremely light spoilers for "Scream VI."

Just when you thought Ghostface couldn't get any bolder...

Following his return to Woodsboro after all this time to reignite old blazes and entangle a whole new generation in his web, the masked killer shows up in New York City. His now-regular set of victims, a group led by Melissa Barerra's Sam and Jenna Ortega's Tara, have hightailed it out of their quaint Michigan town and planned on staying as far away from their nightmares, hiding in the city's cracks and crevasses. But knowing what we know about Ghostface, that doesn't go well for very long.

After picking up the "Scream" mantle with the fifth installment in 2021, Radio Silence directing collective members Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin did something most find difficult when it comes to integrating into an existing franchise: They proved themselves. The film was fast, fun, and true to its roots. Fast forward to "Scream 6," Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin's sophomore Ghostface outing, and you'll be happy to know that the ante has been sufficiently upped. The directing duo don't relax knowing they've won over a vast chunk of franchise die-hards. They go harder, and to be completely honest, anything else would've been deadly for the reboot series.

Luckily, us Stabheads have two smart, likeminded directorial minds at the head of "Scream 6," bringing us to all-new (and very gory) heights with the latest installment. Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin sat down with me to discuss the crucial balances of this film, the strange empowerment of being Ghostface, and a potential "White Lotus" meets "Scream" moment (yes, you read that right).

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

'The wheels definitely came off'

The last time we spoke, you guys said the big challenge for "6" was creating a "Scream" where the wheels have fallen off, which is such a great way to put it because we've done so much with this franchise already. How do you plan on keeping that train moving? Do you feel like you've succeeded on that front? How are you guys feeling now that the movie's done and it's about to be seen by all these people?

Gillett: I mean, the wheels definitely came off. We're excited. We didn't have time to overthink things in this one. It was such a fast process that with us and the writers and the producers, there was a real gut check of, let's just hold hands, let's get together. Then once the actors got involved, same thing. Everybody's input really matters. Let's get through this and figure out how to make this awesome and not like "Scream 5." We all want to make it different. It's set in New York, let's make it have that New York energy. I think this one was really our version of, for the sixth movie in a franchise that we love, how can we make it feel like, f***, this is the sixth movie in a franchise and it should feel like that in the best way? It's bananas, it's over the top, it's bonkers. I think that was something that really was fun for us to do and it was exciting. We hope people are there to accept that.

'Steer into that strength'

You guys have spoken recently about giving us a grittier and a meaner Ghostface this time around. Why did that feel like a necessary trajectory of the character for you guys? Did you ever consider any other major changes to Ghostface before taking him down this road?

Gillett: No. I think the city had a lot to do with the approach to the character. It felt like with Woodsboro and Windsor College, those locations exist in a bit of a fantasy land. I think that's part of what's fun about what's heightened about those movies. For this one, setting it in a city that is so familiar to people, we had to treat all of that action and all of the violence in a more grounded and terrifying way. Also, there are more obstacles in this movie because it's set in the city, and so you needed a Ghostface that was just brazen and didn't give a f***. In order to be terrifying and exist in those spaces, there had to be a level of brazenness that maybe we haven't seen before.

The other thing that was steering it was we made some changes to the mask. That [new] mask has a look and a feel that's a little more terrifying and violent. All of that came together. And then of course when our stunt performer, Max, who played Ghostface in this movie, puts that costume on and was a full other character. He was an actor before in addition to being a stunt person, and brought a level of physicality to it naturally that when you see somebody doing what Max does, you steer into that strength. The combination of those things is ultimately what gives Ghostface that level of intensity in this movie.

'We joked about Ghostface on spring break in board shorts'

New York is such a character in this, and obviously, it has a rep to uphold. I love New York as a horror film setting in general. It's always fun when we bring it there. Are there any other cities that you might want to try for a future installment? Maybe a f***ed up vacation installment?

Bettinelli-Olpin: F***ed up vacation installment sounds great. We joked about Rome yesterday, or Paris.

Gillett: We joked about Rome. We joked about Ghostface on spring break in board shorts.

Bettinelli-Olpin: We could go shoot somewhere really nice. We're always shooting in cold, dingy places. It'd be cool to just go to a resort, Club Dread Ghostface.

Basically "White Lotus" meets "Scream?"

Bettinelli-Olpin: Yes, exactly. Love it.

Paramount, if you're listening, please.

Gillett: You're now officially an EP on the movie.

Thank you. Oh my gosh. Is it that easy? That's incredible.

'It's a secret feel-good movie'

So, one could say the "Scream" franchise is full of negative twists. Obviously the twists are not good for the people involved in those twists. They tend to be really bad outcomes. But we get a lot of really positive twists in this installment, surprisingly, for how gritty and hardcore it is. How did you guys balance the idea of letting the good guys have their day for a change and also making sure those good guys still get their asses handed to them?

Gillett: One of the things I think we had the most conversations about was that balance, because you don't want to neuter the movie at the end. You want it to feel like it has a real point of view. But we kept going back to the original and talking a lot about the original "Scream," how it's a movie where the good guys win. One of the reasons why it's so watchable and why it continues to be such an important part of our lives as people who saw it in the nineties — and I think [for] people who see it for the first time, why it's still really beloved — is because it's a secret feel-good movie.

We love telling stories about survivors, and obviously "Ready or Not" is an example of that as well. But we love putting characters through hell and having them come out successful on the other side. We love cathartic films, and that's something that I think we'll always aim to do to some degree. But as we were approaching the shooting of that [ending] sequence in particular, we just knew in our hearts that the catharsis of that moment was incredibly valuable to us personally and to the film as a whole, wanting it to just feel really f***ing good at the end.

I asked on the last junket, I need an update: Have the thoughts of making a full-on "Stab" movie come any closer to reality? Because you guys were down as hell the last time we talked.

Bettinelli-Olpin: Still are. We love that idea.

'We always treated it a little bit like he's a superhero'

This installment really calls into question our commitment to idolatry, and even our obsession with true crime as a society. What do you think makes the Ghostface persona so enticing to those who don the mask?

Gillett: This came from talking to the previous cast, I think Neve [Campbell] told us that, "We always treated it a little bit like he's a superhero." I think that's also true in the movie, that Ghostface is putting on a cape, almost. You're a little bit otherworldly. You don't quite play by the rules of normal people. Which is why, again, at the end of these movies, when people take off the masks, those rules shift a little bit. There's just something so enticing about it. It's so scary and it's so cool. And at this point, it's become so iconic and such a part of all of our lives.

But you feel that in the movies, too, when you're watching them, that whoever's doing it feels empowered by it. There's something really cool about that. There's also something just naturally terrifying about — and maybe there's more of this in our lives now with social media — but the terror of anonymity, that you can behave in a different way if your identity is concealed. That, to us, is just really evergreen. Obviously in an analog sense, wearing the mask, certainly there are a lot of instances of that now in different ways. But it's a really interesting and scary thing to continue to play with and unpack in these movies.

He's basically the anti-Bruce Wayne, in a way. He's got a little bit of a Bruce Wayne thing going on. He puts the mask on, he's a new dude. And they're both in New York technically. It's like Bruce Wayne, move over.

Bettinelli-Olpin: Shared universe?

Yeah, right, exactly! Listen, I'm giving you so many ideas. You were right to name me as EP on the next one. Good move, guys.

"Scream 6" is in theaters now.