Contains Scream franchise spoilers
The corn syrup is set to flow once again, as Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin return for the tentatively titled Scream 6. Taking over from the legendary Wes Craven to helm 2022’s Scream (confusingly the franchise’s fifth outing), the soft reboot put enough butts on seats to warrant a sequel.
Ever since Drew Barrymore’s Casey Becker picked up the phone in 1996, the Scream franchise has been “screaming” its way to the top of the box office. As with any long-running slasher series, some entries are better than others. Now, set photos from Scream 6 suggest Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin have a chance to redeem the franchise’s black sheep with a twist we never got to see.
Coming out in 2000, Scream 3 had a famously troubled production, divisive reception, and killed the franchise dead for the next 11 years. The original trio of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette all returned – alongside A-list newcomers including Patrick Dempsey, Parker Posey, and Lance Henriksen. Despite having a lot going for it, leaving Woodsboro for Hollywood meant many felt it was too far a departure from its predecessors.
One of the biggest differences between Scream 3 and its siblings was the lack of grisly kills. Ghostface still hacked their way through the cast, but due to the Columbine High School massacre, the studio scaled back the violence and completely rewrote the ending. With series scribe Kevin Williamson unable to finish a script, Ehren Kruger took over writing duties. As Williamson is once again serving as executive producer on Scream 6, could we see his Scream 3 ending brought back from the dead like Billy Loomis’ ghost?
Williamson’s original reveal would’ve been one for the ages, which deserves its time to glisten in Scream 6. The Scream creator told ET how there was going to be the typical final act bloodbath, but as Sidney walked into the house, the murdered victims would’ve risen up as a group of “fans” obsessed with the in-movie Stab series. If this wasn’t big enough of a twist, Matthew Lillard confirmed to Vulture in 2022 that he was originally going to return for Scream 3 before it was rewritten… but still got paid.
The mastermind behind this next generation of unhinged killers was going to be none other than Stu Macher. For those who need a refresher, Lillard played Stu in the first movie – being an accomplice to Skeet Ulrich’s Billy Loomis. If Scream 3 had gone ahead with Williamson’s outline, Stu would’ve survived his Scream death and orchestrated everything from behind bars. This ties into Scream 6 through a leaked photo that shows our survivors in what looks like a Ghostface hall of fame.
Leaked photos were shared (and quickly) scrubbed from Twitter account @UniHorror_, showing off returnees including Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), as well as newcomers like Dermot Mulroney. There’s also Hayden Panettiere reprising her role as Kirby from Scream 4. It was already confirmed Panettiere was coming out of acting retirement after she appeared as an Easter egg in 2022’s movie. It’s clear that the new Ghostface(s) have been watching closely, as noted scooper @ViewerAnon adds that the gang are in an old theater that’s being used as a museum of the macabre that has the various Ghostface costumes from 27 years of Woodsboro massacres.
The whole Stab-obsessed film nerd rhetoric played out with Richie (Jack Quaid) in the last movie, so it’s more likely this connection goes all the way back to the start. There aren’t many of the old crowd around these days, and unless you’re saving for the mother of all twists – rivalling Halloween Ends for p*sing off fans – we doubt it’s Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott being behind everything. As for the Scream 3 twist, Williamson later reused the plot for Williamson’s The Following. The short-lived crime thriller starred Kevin Bacon’s FBI agent trying to recapture a serial killer. James Purefoy’s Joe Caroll was directly based on Stu Macher.
Although Scream made it look like Stu was dead when Sidney smashed a TV onto his head, there are theories everywhere. Lillard played an unnamed partygoer in the background of Scream 2, and even though it obviously isn’t Stu quite literally returning to the scene of the crime, it hasn’t stopped the wild fan theories. In the Vulture interview, Lillard referred to himself as the “grandfather of Stu truthers” and even says, “Have you seen Friday the 13th? Jason comes back — like Stu still could come back.”
Given that 2022’s Scream returned to Stu’s house for its climax, many speculated we’d see him unmasked as one of the killers. Scream purists say it would’ve been too stuffed to introduce so many new faces, bring back the legacy cast, and have the wild twist of Stu being alive in Scream, but now that things have settled, his return could make a lot of sense. Sadly, while Billy Loomis remains a key part of Scream because he’s the father of Barrera’s Sam Carpenter, Stu is often forgotten. Having a cult of Ghostface fanatics and Stu as their puppet master is exactly the kind of out-there reveal that’s just realistic but bonkers enough to work in Scream 6.