The Scream Scene That Truly Scared Drew Barrymore

The fifth installment in the "Scream" franchise will be slashing its way into theaters on January 14, 2022, so it's the perfect time to take a look back on what made the first movie so compelling. Wes Craven's "Scream" was a potent little '90s horror cocktail, mixing genuine humor and fear with a meta narrative that broke down the genre while rolling around in it like a pig in muck. It's the film equivalent of a smirk and a wink, and while much has been written about its comedy and genre analysis, "Scream" doesn't pull any horror punches. Yeah, it's a film that will make you laugh, but it will just as easily make you squirm.

In an oral history of the first movie, The Hollywood Reporter pinpoints one of the film's elements that was so effective, it even unnerved the cast members. Starting with the famous opening scene with Drew Barrymore, the team decided that Roger Jackson (the creepy and iconic voice of Ghostface) wouldn't be added in post-production. Instead, according to editor Patrick Lussier, all of his phone calls were done live from a secret location:

One of the smartest things they did when they shot it was Roger Jackson, who does Ghostface's voice, the killer voice, he was on set. All those phone calls were done live. They were tapped into a phone, but Drew and none of the actors could see him. They didn't know what he looked like.

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Producer Marianne Maddalena backed up Lussier's story and added that the team went out of their way to keep Jackson away from the other actors, building on the mystery and paranoia that surrounds Ghostface's identity throughout the first film (and all of the subsequent films):

We hid him. We had separate rooms. He was never around. He was never at craft services. He was absolutely incognito. It made it scary for the actors and Wes just got better performances out of them. It's a completely different thing than a script supervisor reading the lines. He has an amazing voice, but I don't know how menacing he would be in person, you know?

It's hard to say if the opening scene to "Scream," in which Ghostface taunts Barrymore over the phone, would still be as effective if Barrymore had been acting off of a script supervisor or if she had spent time hanging out with Jackson on set, but it's equally hard to imagine a more visceral performance than the one we see on screen. As for Jackson's voice creeping out the actors, all we can say is, same. There's many reasons why "Scream" still captures the hearts and minds of horror fans, and Jackson's voice is one of them.