Scream Directors Address The Movie's Most Shocking Character Death

Spoiler alert: someone dies in the new "Scream" movie! 

It's a given that the body count is going to be high in any teen slasher flick, and the early "Scream" movies, written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, were particularly good at fostering a vibe of "No one is safe." This began with the opening scene of the first film, where Drew Barrymore — probably the most well-known actor attached to the movie at that point — saw her character, Casey Becker (pictured below), suffer a grisly fate at the hands of the Ghostface killer.

Casey's death is a famous slice of horror history, and as recently as last summer, Netflix's "Fear Street" trilogy could be seen homaging it. It was the '90s equivalent of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), dying in the shower midway through "Psycho," despite ostensibly being the main character.

"Scream" even had Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) quoting "Psycho," saying, "We all go a little mad sometimes." "Scream 2" didn't pull any punches, either. The sequel brought back Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), the very character who laid out the rules for survival in the first movie. He got pulled into a van in broad daylight on a bustling college campus, and stabbed to death. The message was clear: anything can happen. Again, no one is safe.

Subsequent sequels diluted that message a bit, as it soon became clear that certain legacy characters like Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) were wearing plot armor. They've all survived to the fifth "Scream" movie, but one or more of them may not be making it out of this one alive. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know who that is (or isn't), look away now.

A Tale of Two Knives

In the new "Scream," the tenacious Woodsboro survivor, Dewey, finally bites the bullet — or blade — after five movies. It only takes two knives to kill him. Co-directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli addressed the character's death in an interview with The Wrap. Gillett made it sound like an almost inevitable byproduct of raising the narrative stakes, saying:

"I think we all knew that we were going to do what we had to do. I just think that it was that feeling of, you're Wile E. Coyote-ing towards the edge of the cliff and then you start backing up. As you start to commit to a choice that has that much gravity, I think it's natural to want to gut check yourself and go, f***, is this the right thing? I think that we all knew in our hearts though that it was, for so many reasons, right. I feel like the stakes of the movie depend so greatly on us being able to express that there isn't really a safe place to hide in our film.

"It's what I think that people forget that that's how the first movie felt. And it's one of the reasons why it's so great and so compelling, is that opening [Drew Barrymore] scene, it strips you of every expectation. And I think for us, obviously 25 years later in [the] fifth movie in a franchise that has done so much subverting of expectations, the one thing that it's never really done is go for it with a legacy cast member and specifically Dewey who is historically unkillable. And I think the challenge for us was to not treat it in a way that felt mean or cruel though obviously it's very, very brutal. I think for us we wanted to make it as iconic and sort of heroic as that character is, the two knives. The idea that the only way that you could possibly kill Dewey is to get him with two knives."

Romance and Respect for Dewey

Dewey's death comes after his reunion with Gale, allowing former real-life spouses Arquette and Cox to share a final scene together. Gillett highlighted the romance of that scene and the respect paid to Dewey as a legacy character as a sort of consolation prize for anyone who might be mourning the loss of Dewey too hard. He continued:

"The thread of Gale in that scene ... makes it feel a little bit romantic. And there's maybe a little bit of hope for him at the end when he looks at the phone and he sees that she's calling. All of these ingredients ... make it feel like it is emotionally complicated and not just, this sort of quick brutal kill.

"And even Ghostface saying, 'It's an honor.' The killer in that moment recognizes the gravity of what the movie is doing and what they're doing. And ultimately on a meta level, what they are doing for the [in-universe 'Stab'] movie that will be made based on the events of this movie, there were a lot of things sort of at work, but I think we felt a real reverence for what that had to be. And I mean, look, it's one of the bigger risks of the movie, but we also knew it had to happen. The movie after that happens is so based in the consequence of his death that we just had to be willing to go there."

"Scream" is in theaters now.