Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt discuss the franchise homages they included in the latest Scream, plus their thoughts on adding Scream 3 references if there's a Scream 7.

"The body count is always bigger. The death scenes are always much more elaborate, with more blood and gore."

The Scream VI team certainly followed the rules Jamie Kennedy's Randy laid out in Scream 2. But that's not the only way the 2022 follow-up to last year's Scream pays homage to the 1997 sequel.

A week after the new film's release, EW asked screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick to break down all their intentional Scream 2 easter eggs — and a few homages they didn't even realize they included.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Scream VI, including that killer ending.

Mason Gooding in 'Scream 6'
Mason Gooding in 'Scream VI'
| Credit: Philippe Bossé/Paramount Pictures

The college campus setting

The new sequel sees 2022 Scream survivors Tara (Jenna Ortega), Chad (Mason Gooding), and Mindy (Jasmine Savoy Brown) attending Blackmore College, while Scream 2's killing spree took place at Windsor College. The parallel is clear, though the writers say the homage was dictated more by timeline than nostalgia.

"We loved the idea of the sequel taking place in real time," Vanderbilt tells EW of setting VI just a year after the 2022 film. "And three out of the four main characters were seniors in high school in the last film, so college was a logical extension the same way it was a logical extension for Kevin and Wes when they did Scream 2."

That said, "the fraternity and sorority mentioned are the same fraternity and sorority from 2," he adds. "That was really important to us."

"But our college is just an excuse to move our characters to an environment entirely new to the franchise," Busick says of moving the characters to New York City, with Vanderbilt adding that it was important they not "end up in another bucolic, rolling green hills, liberal arts place."

"The urban setting gave us opportunities for set pieces we hadn't seen in the franchise before, such as using its verticality to build the ladder sequence," Busick explains.

Melissa Barrera and Josh Segarra in 'Scream VI'
Melissa Barrera and Josh Segarra in 'Scream VI'

That tense ladder scene and fatal fall

Some fans have pointed out that Mindy's girlfriend, Anika (Devyn Nekoda), takes a fatal fall after being stabbed just like Sarah Michelle Gellar's Cici Cooper in Scream 2. But it seems that homage was not something the writers picked up on while crafting the story.

"The fall was much more about being in New York City and being able to do something with verticality," says Vanderbilt. "As soon as we came up with New York as the milieu for the movie, it was like, 'How can we use this city and make it feel different than a lot of other Scream movies?' And fear of heights is something we don't usually get to do in a Scream movie."

But there is a Scream 2 scene that did influence the ladder sequence (and the subway scene): the one where Sidney (Neve Campbell) and Hallie (Elise Neal) must climb over Ghostface to get out of the cop car.

"We were, like, 'Oh, man, if we could capture just a fraction of the feeling of "I'm in close quarters with the killer and there's nowhere to go,"' and you're hopefully just holding your breath and waiting for it..." says Busick. "So I think it's more about trying to capture a feeling, and not even try to top it, but just match some of that energy where it feels like people will talk about that cop car sequence forever. We're always trying to challenge ourselves to be like, 'Can we add another really memorable set piece?'"

'Scream 2' cast on the quad
'Scream 2' cast on the quad
| Credit: Dimension Films/courtesy Everett Collection

The quad and Central Park scenes

As Mindy mentions to Kirby (Hayden Panettiere, reprising her Scream 4 role), "trying to locate the killer in an open green space in broad daylight is exactly what led to her and Chad's Uncle Randy's death," says Busick. "In fact, in earlier drafts of the script, the sequence originally included a moment of Chad and Mindy running around and grabbing cell phones out of people's hands during the Ghostface call, like Gale and Dewey did in 2 — even being startled by a van door opening behind them as a misdirect, but it was cut before the scene was shot."

'Scream VI' sets the stage
'Scream VI' sets the stage

The theater climax

The ending of Scream VI "was actually going to be in a warehouse," reveals Vanderbilt, "but it just felt like more of a museum. We were having trouble finding a location that really worked. Then our brilliant location scout and location manager found this place."

"We were actually uneasy about setting the finale in a theater because we didn't want people to think we were just copying and pasting from Scream 2," adds Busick. "But when we saw the space in person, we knew that it would have a completely different look and feel, especially due to the shrine/museum element. And it gave us an opportunity to include the late Richie Kirsch's 'fan films,' which included footage provided by [Scream 2022 actor] Jack Quaid himself from his younger days."

The killers and their motivations

Much like Laurie Metcalf's Debbie Salt, a.k.a. Mrs. Loomis, in Scream 2, the Ghostfaces of Scream VI have a family tie to one of the previous film's killers: Ethan Landry (Jack Champion) and Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato) are Richie's siblings and Wayne Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) is his father.

"Because the motive of the killers in [2022's] Scream was about an idea — toxic fans killing people to provide new source material for their favorite franchise which they felt had gone off the rails — we wanted the motive in VI to be primal and emotion-based," says Busick. "When we landed on Richie's family coming after Sam for revenge for killing Richie, it felt right. Although we'd seen an unhinged parent coming after our hero for revenge in 2, we had never seen a full family of psychos. The movie is ultimately about pitting two families against each other: the Baileys vs. the Carpenters and their found family, the Meeks-Martin twins.

Hayden Panetierre in 'Scream VI'
Hayden Panetierre in 'Scream VI'
| Credit: Philippe Bossé/Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group

Kirby gets shot like Gale

"That was a coincidence!" Busick swears of the parallels of Kirby being shot in the theater finale and left for dead only to pop back up for the climactic Ghostface faceoff like Gale (Courteney Cox) in Scream 2.

"I'm pretty sure the fact that this happened with Gale in the finale of 2 never came up in discussions," he says. "But this also happens in [the original] Scream with Randy!"

"I think it could just be subconscious from our writing or Radio Silence's directing, because when you point those things out, of course they make sense," adds Vanderbilt.

So what Scream 3 homages are they planning should they write a Scream 7?

"I don't know," Vanderbilt says with a laugh. "Listen, we had the 'Happy Birthday Roman' sign, the reels of the unfinished Stab 3, and the burnt fax machine in this movie, so I don't know how much more we can do for 3. I mean, we mentioned [Scott Foley's Scream 3 killer] Roman Bridger for the first time. People online were like, 'They never talk about Roman.' I'm like, 'Oh, yeah? Well, check this out.'"

"Kudos to him for ambition," Busick adds, quoting a Scream VI line Panettiere's Kirby says after noting that Roman is the only solo Ghostface.

"That's right," Vanderbilt replies. "'Kudos to him for ambition,' from Kirby Reed's mouth to our ears."

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