Second seasons, much like movie sequels, come with the pressure of having to build on and improve upon their initial runs. MTV’s Scream series is undertaking that task in its sophomore effort by expanding its horror movie horizons to include nods to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and even the torture-porn franchise Saw. If the show can keep the balance of influence right, then it may have tapped into a formula that expands the universe of the show without having to rely purely on gorier deaths and higher body counts. Scream is getting a little less Ghostface and a little more Freddie Krueger.
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Nightmare on Elm Street has the most direct influence on the second season, which premieres Monday. It actually gets a direct call-out in the season premiere, when Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) begins having dreams that tie in to the show’s greater serial killer arc. It’s clear that Emma’s dreams will continue to direct which path she takes this season and inevitably lead her to important information about this season’s killer or an important part of her past with the Brandon James family.
The Saw and Halloween influences are a little more covert. Without spoilers, the second season’s killer will have more fun playing with their victims before their deaths, much like Saw’s Jigsaw. It’s going beyond taunting text messages into full-on torture games. The new Ghostface also takes a few notes from Halloween‘s Michael Meyers, quietly stalking the victims and standing in just the right place before going in for the kill. Some shots from the Season 2 premiere actually feel ripped directly from Halloween: Resurrection, in which a reality show stages itself in Myers’ childhood home not knowing the killer had moved back in.
Despite the influx of other iconic horror influences, Scream still maintains a connection to the mothership. The first seven minutes of the new season take place in a movie theater, just like Scream 2′s opening kills of Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett Smith. The “Lakewood 6,” as the surviving members of Season 1 have dubbed themselves, also have to determine real threats from the influx of pranks being played on them in light of their new fame — just like Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her friends had to do in the movie sequel.
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The Scream 2 anchor is important in maintaining the show’s DNA, but the new influences can shake up the reveal of the new killer. If the show sticks to its Scream film heritage, fans already know to expect a relative of Season 1’s killer Piper to continue her revenge rampage. The new influences widen the possibilities. Will Emma’s dreams allude to a more supernatural type killer like Freddie Krueger? Or will they take the Saw route and make the new slasher someone we thought was already dead? We can’t automatically assume the series will follow the mothership’s format, which makes it more unpredictable.
A show like Scream relies on being able to shock and surprise its audience. In a TV landscape filled to the brim with gore and violence, finding a way to reveal the killer in an unexpected way will be far more impressive and rewarding than simply slashing open more bodies by more gruesome methods. By throwing their fans off the trail of the killer, Scream finds a much more interesting way to keep fans on the hook for another killer reveal.
Scream Season 2 premieres Monday, May 30 at 11/10c on MTV.