After over 25 years of escaping the deadly blade of the murderous Ghostface in the ongoing Scream franchise, Courteney Cox has become something of a detective, sniffing out the killer well before they are revealed in the film’s final act.
During shooting on the series’ sixth instalment (now in theatres), Cox invited her castmates, including Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Hayden Panettiere, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Champion, Liana Liberato, Devyn Nekoda, Samara Weaving and Tony Revolori, over for dinner one night.
Cox, who plays the opportunistic journalist Gale Weathers in the long-running slasher films, surveyed the possible suspects, and gleefully declared, “I know who you are!”
“I didn’t read to the end of the script. As soon as Gale dies or lives or whatever happens. When she departs the movie and the young ‘core four’ or whoever’s left is dealing with Ghostface — I don’t like to know what comes next,” Cox, 58, says in a Zoom call from New York City. “I like to watch the actors and wonder, ‘Are you that good of an actor?’ But I got it.”
“In the end, she guessed correctly,” Barrera, 32, adds with a laugh.
Returning co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and co-writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick move the setting from the fictional Woodsboro, Calif., to New York City, where four survivors of the last film, who call themselves the “core four” are now living.
The Carpenter sisters, Sam and Tara (Barrera and Ortega), pal around with brother and sister Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Gooding and Savoy Brown), along with the new friends they’ve made in the Big Apple, played by Liberato, Champion and Nekoda.
Their idyllic life is turned upside by the reappearance of new killers donning the Ghostface mask with some of the bloody action taking place in a convenience store, Weathers’ fancy apartment and a packed subway train. Panettiere returns as Kirby Reed (from Scream 4), who is now an FBI agent investigating the murders alongside Mulroney’s hard-nosed cop.
After Neve Campbell decided not to return following a salary dispute with the film’s producers, Cox is back as the lone original cast member to appear in the blood-soaked franchise that revolves around scary-movie fanatics and killers.
“Of course I missed Neve. She’s Sidney Prescott!” Cox says over her co-star’s absence. “But this movie is action-packed and there’s so much going on that you don’t have a chance to sit and think too much at all. But yes, she was missed for sure.”
Cox’s mid-film fight with Ghostface is the first time she didn’t know who was behind the mask. But she says she has a good track record at guessing the killers ever since Scream first slashed its way into theatres in 1996.
“I’m pretty good at that, but they’re getting more complicated. They’re starting to outsmart me, but this one I liked.”
All the characters this time around, including Sam — who is the daughter of series’ original killer Billy Loomis (played by Skeet Ulrich) — is a suspect.
“I’m not very good at figuring out the killers,” Barrera says. “I feel like I’m not very good at deduction.”
The newcomer, who helped launch a fresh story with last year’s Scream V, thinks the dark alleys and crowded streets of New York add a new layer of tension to the sequel.
“Moving it to the big city is a big statement from the writers and directors of where they are planning to take this franchise,” she says. “It also raises the stakes. They’re in a new place, they’re unfamiliar with the territory and that makes it scarier.”
But whether it is Woodsboro or New York, Cox and Barrera have taken practical lessons every time they’ve faced a new killer (or killers) with each new instalment where anyone in their inner circle could be Ghostface.
“What it’s taught me is to never go to the bathroom in a movie theatre … you don’t go into a parking lot alone and don’t try to change the way you look in every film because it’s not worth it. You look back and go, ‘What was I thinking?’” Cox says with a grin.
Barrera bursts into laughter, assuring Cox that Weathers’ hairstyles are iconic. But she too has learned a thing or two from being a horror-movie protagonist.
“I don’t give in to curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat and it’s mostly when you give into those feelings of, ‘Let me go see what’s going on in the basement,’ or, ‘Let me go see what’s going on down this hallway,’ or ‘Let me go open this door.’ Just don’t do it.”
Scream VI is now playing in theatres.
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