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In the Scream 5 Poster, the Franchise's ‘Gay Survival’ Subtext Becomes Text

Jasmine Savoy-Brown, Kevin Williams, and Skeet Ulrich

Scream has always been queer — well, at least subtextually. Like Ghostface himself, the queerness has always lurked in the corner of the screen, popping up when Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott isn’t looking, then sliding off-screen just as quickly as she spins around. It’s been present from the very start with the subtly homoerotic tone of (warning: spoilers for Scream) Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu’s (Mathew Lillard) homicidal — and ultimately penetrative — bromance, the reveal of which sees Billy quoting Norman Bates’s most infamous line, “We all go a little mad sometimes,” originally spoken by legendary bi actor Anthony Perkins. This subtext carries through all four of the original films, surfacing in Scream 4 when Robbie (Erik Knudsen) declares “I’m gay ... if that helps?” to discourage Ghostface from killing him. The Scream TV series also introduced queer characters Audrey (played by nonbinary actor Bex-Taylor Klaus) and Manny (Giullian Yao Gioiello) in seasons 1 and 3, respectively. 

Along with its LGBTQ+ characters (subtextual and otherwise), the Scream franchise has starred plenty of queer folks, including Anna Paquin, Portia de Rossi, and Heather Matarazzo, as well as LGBTQ+ faves Laurie Metcalf, Parker Posey, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Carrie Fisher. 

It’s no wonder then that the franchise is a favorite of LGBTQ+ horror fans. As it turns out, however, we weren’t just seeing imaginary subtextual specters — it really was queer all along. We now know that thanks to an interview The Independent has published with Scream creator Kevin Williamson, in which he shared how his sexuality influenced the writing of the original film and the character of Sidney. “As a gay kid, I related to the final girl and to her struggle because it’s what one has to do to survive as a young gay kid too. You’re watching this girl survive the night and survive the trauma she’s enduring. Subconsciously, I think the Scream movies are coded in gay survival,” he explained. Key to Sidney’s survival was her constant suspicion, says Williamson. “One of the things I’ve wrestled with is trust, and Sidney trusted no one,” he said. “Did she really know her mother? Is her boyfriend who he says he is? In the end, she wasn’t even trusting herself.”

Now with the fifth film in the franchise set to premiere in just a few weeks on January 14, all of that subtext baked into the DNA of the series is about to become text. According to the official synopsis, this film picks up when “25 years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.” The latest entry will introduce audiences to Mindy Meeks-Martin, a queer Black student played by out actor Jasmin Savoy Brown (Yellowjackets). In the recently released character poster for the film, Mindy is literally wearing her queerness on her sleeve — well, technically her chest — with a Pride pin, confirming what the actor previously had told Logo about her new role. “What I love about playing Mindy is she’s a queer Black woman, just like myself, so I’m really proud of that,” Savoy Brown said.

Jasmine Savoy-Brown

“When [directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett] asked for collaboration, they were just asking me to be my full self,” Savoy Brown shared. “So there wasn’t a lot of tweaking to do, I felt I could just fully exist just as myself which is a person who happens to be queer, and the writing reflects that.

The film’s directors also made it very clear they wanted input on fleshing out Mindy’s character. “One of the very first things [the directors] said was, ‘We want you to participate fully in building this character and building this world, so any thoughts you have, anything that is important to you as a person that you want to be part of your character, let us know, we’ll make it happen,’” Savoy Brown said.

While it might not seem so revelatory to have a queer lead character in a 2022 horror film, that’s only because of movies like Scream and creators such as Williamson, who shoved a hunting knife into the door jam of that locked door and pried it open to allow inclusivity in. And frankly, that’s pretty killer. 

Scream 5 premieres only in theaters on January 14. Watch the trailer below.

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