Publicity stunts; if ever there was a kind of marketing tool that could backfire, this is the one. Some of them can be incredibly creative, others can cost people their jobs or wreak unintended havoc for people caught up in them. When it comes to publicity stunts for horror films though, there’s the added potential for things to go awry since often times, the theme of them tends to be suitably scary. Enter “Scream VI” and a stunt that gave the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office a good scare.
Even if you’re not particularly a fan of the “Scream” series, you may recognize the iconic Ghostface mask used used by killers in the franchise. A person wearing the mask and accompanying robe started making appearances around Sonoma Plaza, where the first movie filmed. The masked figure seemed to know exactly where to stand and look in order to peer directly into cameras for the Visit Sonoma website.
Visit Sonoma has a live feed camera which streams to their website. Ghostface seemingly knew this, and took advantage to maximize their creepiness factor. This led to a number of calls to local sheriffs. It’s not that he was doing anything in particular; it was the fact he wasn’t doing anything. Ghostface just stood there in the early morning rain for at least an hour, before finally walking across the crosswalk.
According to Robert Dillion, a spokesperson for the sheriffs office, “tons and tons” of calls were recieved. They eventually responded to the scene to confront the individual, and seemed satisfied in finding out it was just a publicity stunt for the “Scream” sequel. The office said they would not have taken issue with the marketing campaign if they had been notified about it in advance.
At least in this most recent scenario, all it cost were some overworked phone dispatchers and a bit of fear from the general populace. No one was hurt, which is not something the characters in “Scream VI” will say when the film premiers on March 10th, 2023.