“You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series,” Noah Foster quips to his classmates in the trailer for the new “Scream.”
Tell that to MTV. Noah is John Karna’s character in the network’s new series, based on the popular slasher films of the 1990s and 2000s starring Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox, and helmed by horror king Wes Craven. There were four of those movies, spanning 1996 to 2011. The body counts were high, thus Noah’s skepticism that such a bloodbath could be extended beyond a couple of hours, a tub of popcorn and a box of Sno-Caps.
Get More: MTV Shows
The writers behind the new “Scream,” with the oversight of Craven as one of the executive producers, think differently. As of two weeks ago, seven of the 10 episodes for Season 1 were in the can, as shooting continued on a Celtic Studios stage in Baton Rouge.
“I have seen all of them (‘Screams’ 1, 2, 3 and 4) twice, I think. I’m a huge fan,” says actress Willa Fitzgerald, who plays Emma Duval. “I think the films are so smart and so scary, and so funny. It’s truly genre-breaking as movies go.”
Fitzgerald, unlike the doubting Noah, sees prospects for multi-seasons of the small-screen version of “Scream.”
“It’s really exciting to be working on a TV show that’s not only continuing in that vein, but also expanding what the original ‘Scream’ movies were doing by allowing, for the first time, all of the moments in between the killings to really breathe,” Fitzgerald says. “So you don’t only have this rampage of homicides, which is what happens in the ‘Scream’ movies once the killing begins, but you also have the time in between those killings where this town of Lakewood and the high school students are just trying to understand and deal with the real tragedy that’s happening. And I think that’s really going to be fun for audiences to see.”
“And also, you get a chance to fall in love with the characters and watch as they may or may not get picked off, and you’re rooting for these kids and you’re wondering every episode if they’re going to be the next one to die,” says Bex Taylor-Klaus, who plays Audrey.
Unlike the pre-social media “Scream” movies, communication outlets such as Twitter, and just the cellphone itself, play heavily into how “Scream” unfolds on the TV screen, and how the actors interact with fans and each other off-screen.
“She (Fitzgerald) is getting really good at Instagram, and Twitter is my favorite medium right now,” Taylor-Klaus says.
With the actors on differing shoot schedules, when a new script arrives, the group text messages commence.
And it’s more than just curiosity. They’re anxious to see if their character has survived another episode.
Piper Shay, played by Amelia Rose Blaire, doesn’t enter the picture until the second episode.
“I remember watching the first ‘Scream’ movie obsessively with my sister. We both saw it, and then really wanted to see it again, but we didn’t want to admit to each other that we wanted to watch it immediately again, but, yeah, we loved it,” Blaire says.
“I’m such a wimp, but getting to be behind the curtain of how it’s made is a lot of fun. It gives a different point of view,” she says.
Blaire feels it’s important to incorporate the “plugged-in” element of today’s high schoolers into the telling of “Scream.”
“I think it’s very relevant because we live in a world where literally everything, you put it out, and it’s instantaneously, like, accessible by everyone. Once you put it on the Internet, it belongs to everyone,” she says.
Blaire, who hadn’t worked in Louisiana until “Scream,” played Willa Burrell in 19 episodes of the Louisiana-set HBO vampire series, “True Blood.”
“It was crazy, with all the blood, and the guts and the gore, and I mean, it definitely primed me for this show,” she says.
Horror was new territory, however, for actor Connor Weil, who plays Will Belmont, boyfriend to Fitzgerald’s Emma.
“Usually, I don’t jump for horror, because lots of times it’s pretty risque. That’s never been my thing,” Weil says. “This one was so appealing beyond the fact that it was from the original movies, because there’s a story line. It’s thrilling, every character has a need and a want for something in the long run, and then you add the killer aspect and it just adds to that, so there’s a whole backbone to it instead of just wanting to hack some people up … it’s really amazing to watch it unfold.”
Especially when the killer is sending chilling text messages.
“That’s the scary part,” says Weil. “He can be anywhere. He can access you at any time.”
Amadeus Serafini says he saw something beyond horror in “Scream’s” pilot script.
“No, I was never a horror fan, but slashers, thrillers, more cerebral psychological elements, definitely are things that I’m attracted to,” he says. “Those are all elements in this script.”
In his first TV role, Serafini plays Kieran Wilcox, the mysterious new kid in town. And he, like everyone else, is suspected of wearing that white mask.
“There’s never one killer, first of all, and we don’t know, and the writers have done a really good job of withholding that from us,” Serafini says, “and I think that plays into the greater mystery, definitely for the show, in that we really don’t know.”
And that goes for that know-it-all Noah as well.
Karna says he sees Noah as “Scream’s” comic relief, always providing some commentary on what’s happening around him.
“Once I got the part, I realized I really needed to study up, and I watched a lot of horror movies,” he says. “I’ve seen so many scary movies now, and I used to really not love them, and once I got the part I’ve, like, fallen in love with scary movies. I can’t stop watching them. It’s so great.”
Being on the inside of this scary project is a thrill for Karna.
“We’re just excited to take everything in a new direction.”