George Nash delves into the new Scream movie to uncover the Easter eggs you may have missed…
Going very much against its own set of slasher survival rules—never say “I’ll be right back” remember—Scream has returned once again with yet more meta mayhem and razor-sharp self-reference.
With a new generation of cine-savvy teens and the faithful old guard pulled back to save the day, the new Scream marks 25 years since the original helped shape the blueprint for the modern metatextual horror movie.
It should hardly come as a shock, therefore, that 2022’s Scream has more Easter eggs and knowing nods to previous instalments than you can shake a blade at. Some, notably the inclusion of a character called ‘Wes’ in tribute to the late maestro Wes Craven, are easy to spot. Others, however, are far less obvious, even to the most die-hard of franchise fans.
While the identity of Ghostface won’t be revealed here, this list will contain revelations that are central to the plot of the movie. So if you’d rather know absolutely nothing going in, stop reading now.
For the rest of you, here are some of the references you may have missed…
A word on Gale’s hair
For all its meta playfulness and alarmingly pertinent sexual assault subplot, Scream 3 is often defined by its absences. Namely, the absence of series creator Kevin Williamson from the writer’s room, and the absence of Courteney Cox’s fringe. In fact, so notorious is Gale Weathers’ hair-don’t in the third film that it gets a (dis)honourable shout-out in the new Scream as Gale herself makes reference to it on the morning show Dewey (David Arquette) watches. You’ll need to listen carefully to catch it, but her momentary mention of the bangs is definitely there.
Ever since his unceremonious (but entirely necessary) death in Scream 2, fans have been pining for the return, in one form or another, of the franchise’s beloved resident cineaste Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). In a step up from a cameo via posthumous video tape in Scream 3, the new Scream not only gives audiences a double dose of Meeks genealogy, in the form of niece and nephew Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), but also the next best thing to actual Randy: Stab Randy.
Towards the end of the film, we see Mindy joyfully watching the first Stab movie and a deliberately wooden recreation of her late uncle’s famous ‘Rules’ monologue. During the credits, we see that Stab Randy is played by unknown actor Christopher Speed, aligning perfectly with something real Randy said way back in Scream 2. “They get Tori Spelling to play Sid, and they cast Joe Blow Nobody to play me,” he laments to Dewey. “At least you get David Schwimmer. I get the guy who drove the stagecoach for one episode of Dr Quinn.”
Oh, hi Mark
Although the franchise’s original final girl doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time, one thing we do learn about Sidney Prescott in the new Scream is that she’s now a mother. During a conversation with Dewey early on, we’re told that she has kids and is also in a relationship with a man named Mark. Presumably this is Mark Kincaid, the dreamy detective played by Patrick Dempsey in Scream 3 who was last seen by viewers hanging out at Sidney’s house at the end of the 2000 sequel. Though he’s not mentioned in Scream 4, surely it can’t just be coincidence. Things in the Scream universe rarely are.
Stabbed seven times
The character of Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), younger sister to Scream’s new protagonist Sam (Melissa Barrera), is an intriguing one. Not only does she become the franchise’s first person to actually survive Ghostface’s blade in the opening reel, she also comes pretty close to stealing Dewey’s crown for receiving the highest number of stab wounds and living to tell the tale.
To be exact, Tara’s total number of injuries is revealed as seven which is also a nifty callback to a similar line in Scream 2, where Timothy Olyphant’s Mickey Altieri discloses that the doomed Maureen Evans (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) was stabbed the same number of times.
Dewey’s Meg Ryan prediction (sort of) came true
In the original Scream, Dewey posits that, were a movie to be made about them, Sidney would be played by a “young Meg Ryan”. A quarter of a century later, his prediction (in a wonderfully coincidental sort of way) very nearly came true. Jack Quaid, the actor who plays Sam’s boyfriend Richie, is Meg Ryan’s son.
Throwback to Billy’s reference to The Silence of the Lambs
Perhaps one of the more divisive elements of the new Scream is the decision to bring back Billy Loomis (a de-aged Skeet Ulrich) via the ghostly hallucinations of his illegitimate daughter, Sam. It’s an intriguing if somewhat misjudged revelation that, regardless of how fans will respond, also serves as a sly nod to something Billy says in the original Scream. When Sidney opens up about being haunted by her mother’s murder, he responds by comparing it to the moment in The Silence of the Lambs when Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling has flashbacks to her dead father. Over two decades on, Sam is going through a similar thing.
Shortly after surviving the opening attack, Tara is recovering in a hospital bed while an episode of Dawson’s Creek (incidentally, called ‘The Scare’) plays on the television. It’s a neat nod to Scream creator Kevin Williamson, who also penned the 90s teen drama, as well as being a wonderful moment of meta mischief. Actors Scott Foley and Joshua Jackson, who both had prominent roles in Dawson’s Creek, have also appeared in the Scream series. Foley starred as down-on-his-luck director Roman Bridger in Scream 3, while Jackson played one of Randy’s film class peers in Scream 2.
Petty meat surface wound
Richie has the unenviable task of being the new generation’s bumbling love interest. In Scream lore, the boyfriend archetype is a notoriously difficult space to occupy: either you’re the killer, killed or, in the case of the unfortunate Trevor (Nico Tortorella) in Scream 4, shot in the dick and then killed.
Romance seems to go hand in hand with bloodshed here, so it isn’t all that surprising when Richie gets sliced in the arm during the hospital attack. What is more unexpected, perhaps, is how the injury recalls an almost identical laceration suffered by arguably the most hapless of all Scream’s hapless romantics: Derek (Jerry O’Connell) from Scream 2.
The throwaway phone line
In another seemingly innocuous moment during the attack at the hospital, Tara, believing it to be Ghostface pursuing her, hits Richie with a mounted cord phone as he enters the room she’s hiding in. In response, an aggrieved Richie can be heard asking “Did you just hit me with the phone?” A valid question yes but also one that nicely invokes Matthew Lillard’s famously ad-libbed line from the original Scream: “You fuckin’ hit me with the phone, dick!”
One of the biggest questions to hang over the franchise in recent years is what befell Hayden Panettiere’s savvy Kirby at the end of Scream 4. The much-adored breakout star was killed by Rory Culkin’s Charlie shortly after the film’s trademark third-act reveal. Or was she? Her body is never actually seen and Craven himself hinted in the movie’s DVD commentary that she may have not, in fact, kicked the bucket. While Panettiere doesn’t turn up in the new Scream, her character’s survival is all but confirmed when a character watches a YouTube video about the eighth Stab film and a sidebar to the right of the screen recommends a related video with the title: “Interview with Woodsboro survivor Kirby Reed!” That’s that cleared up, then.
Lemon squares in the fridge
While Kirby may not have returned for the fifth instalment, one character introduced in Scream 4 who did was loveable small-town cop Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton). In the new film, Judy, now the Sheriff of Woodsboro, gets her very own callback moment when son Wes (Dylan Minnette) sees a note left by her that reads “Lemon squares in the fridge”. Her citrusy baked goods are the subject of a typical Gale Weathers put down in Scream 4, referred to by the fiery TV journalist as tasting like ass.
Justice for Tatum
Unlike Billy, Stu and Randy, very little time in the subsequent sequels is afforded in memory of the often forgotten member of Scream’s original teenage cohort. But what makes Tatum’s (Rose McGowan) lack of acknowledgment doubly surprising is her connection to two of the series’ principal characters in Sidney and Dewey. The new Scream goes someway to honouring long-time Tatum advocates, however, by showing what appears to be a box of her ashes kept atop her big brother’s mantlepiece.
The scene in which Chad has a rather nasty run in with Ghostface is great for two reasons. Firstly, there’s something painfully ironic—not to mention entirely on brand—about a Scream character wandering straight into the killer’s clutches while searching for a character called ‘Liv’. Secondly, the Woodsboro High School jacket he can be seen sporting is almost identical to the one worn by Steven Orth (Kevin Patrick Wells), the doomed boyfriend of the equally doomed Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore), who is disemboweled by Ghostface in the first film’s brutally iconic opening.