The new Scream movie, like many recent franchise revivals, brings in a mix of familiar faces and new ones to confront a threat from the past. But it goes beyond just embracing that format so many part-reboot, part-continuation series returns from a narrative perspective — and dives into territory you’d never expect a Scream movie to get into.
This article will not spoil the identify just who the latest person behind Ghostface is in the newest Scream. It will, however, dive into one of the more spoiler-heavy subtextual through lines of the film which tangentially relates to Star Wars and I found to be incredibly surprising and interesting. We’ve been bursting to talk about it ever since we saw, and now the movie’s out, you likely are too. But, you’ve been warned: this is a through line that it involves huge parts of the film up to, but not including, the identity/identities of the killer. Proceed with caution!
Let’s recap. Scream 2 began with the revelation that Hollywood took Gail Weathers’ book “The Woodsboro Murders” and turned it into a horror movie called Stab. Stab is basically just Scream, but fictionalized in the universe of Scream itself: the same Ghostface killer, same meta movie references, and so on. Scream 3 revealed that Hollywood was now up to Stab 3 and by the time Scream 4 came out, it was Stab 7. So in the world of Scream, seven Stab movies exist when we sit down to watch Scream 5.
In this fifth Scream, we learn that an eighth Stab movie has been released semi-recently. Directed by “The Knives Out guy,” Stab 8 dropped the number system, simply calling itself Stab, which was one of many things that set it apart from the original seven movies (Much in the same way this Scream movie does, of course). So in this world, even before Stab 8 was released, fans were mad at it. We then learn when it was released, fans felt the movie went too far away from the basics of what makes a Stab movie — many found it to be too heady, too “woke”, and naturally, those fans really came down hard on how un-Stab they felt the new Stab was. At one point, one of the characters in Scream is seen watching a clip of YouTubers shitting all over Stab 8.
You can see where they’re going with this. The eighth movie in a popular franchise, that just so happens to be directed by Rian Johnson, and in the Scream universe, it’s considered not to be in step with the rest of the franchise by a group of hardcore fans who then get really angry and mean online about it? Yes: Stab 8 is basically Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Now, why does Scream have this weird Star Wars thread in it? That’s where things get even more interesting (and spoilery too, if you needed a second chance to back out).
In the final act of Scream, it’s revealed that the latest spate of Ghostface kills have been committed as an elaborate way to set up inspiration for a new Stab instalment, one that will send Hollywood the message Stab as a franchise is always best when it sticks to its roots. Ghostface delivers long monologues about how mad the new movie made them, about how they like to complain about it online, and how they don’t understand the term “toxic fandom” and how it could relate to the Stab fanbase, because fandom is all about love. And if fandom is about love, how could loving something be bad? Well, when you do bad things in the name of it, Like, in the case of Scream, killing a bunch of people.
So yes, the new Scream ends up being a big middle finger to fans who take their fandom too far. It’s a mirror onto fandom’s worst impulses. A glimpse into a dark corner — one that, perhaps with a grim sense of humour to it, extrapolates and exaggerates an impulse that has become all too commonplace in fan spaces in the past few years.
Don’t forget that The Last Jedi polarised Star Wars fans to such an extent the Lucasfilm seemingly pivoted as far away from its ideas as it could. None of this has ever been officially verified but the breadcrumbs are there. Rian Johnson, once scheduled to make a whole new Star Wars trilogy, has been left in limbo, with neither the director nor Lucasfilm commenting on whether those plans are actually still in place for several years at this point. Colin Trevorrow, seemingly prepping an Episode IX that directly followed Johnson’s story, was fired and J.J. Abrams, the person responsible for the much more beloved Episode VII, The Force Awakens, was coaxed back. He then delivered a film that could be read as being in contrast to much of Johnson’s work, leaning more into the past of Star Wars instead of its future. Which is what the new Ghostface wants for Stab.
And that’s before you get into the real world ramifications we saw upon the release of The Last Jedi. Members of the film’s cast had to leave social media due to the constant harassment. YouTubers made careers on making videos about “Ruin Johnson” and how he messed up Star Wars by making the choices he did. And Scream wants people who act like that to be embarrassed about it, so it portrays them as psycho killers. By why did Scream want to so closely ape the reactions around The Last Jedi? Why isn’t Stab 8 directed by “The 300 guy” or “The Bridesmaids guy”, or some other director who made a movie where fans came out guns a’blazing. Probably to deliver the second part of Scream’s message: that The Last Jedi is fucking awesome.
I walked out of the new Scream stunned at how gutsy it was for the film to so directly target the kinds of fans you’d assume would be lining up excitedly to see it in the first place, and am extremely curious to know how that would make them feel now that the film is rolling out more publicly. I think the intention is bury a lesson in a place they won’t expect it but — most likely, that’ll just piss a lot of people off. Whether that happens or not though, that this new Scream is very specifically crafted to be a divisive piece of popular Hollywood entertainment that will have fans and haters alike fascinated by the most modern, meta revelation the film has. Scream is, once again, completely timely and relevant. And this time it did so by looking back on a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.