This Scream 6 article contains spoilers.
One of my favorite elements of the Scream franchise is how each movie’s end credits tips the hat to its cast of characters. This goes all the way back to the original 1996 installment where instead of just showing the names of, say, “Neve Campbell,” “Skeet Ulrich,” and “Drew Barrymore,” each of their title cards would be accompanied with a close-up shot where the frame rate slowed down and then froze after a few seconds. Thirty years ago, these were essentially little gifs before the term became commonplace in online parlance.
The practice of showing the faces of the actors in the movie you just watched goes back a lot further than Scream, of course, with it being practically a staple of ‘80s Hollywood blockbusters like Top Gun (1986) and The Blues Brothers (1980). But there was a decidedly ‘90s spin on it in Scream and Scream 2, where bubbly pop songs like SoHo’s “Whisper to a Scream” and Less Than Jake’s ska cover of “I Think I Love You” respectively accompanied images of the players. And whether the actor you saw portrayed a killer or hero, a victim or fool, they all were frozen in a moment of good vibes happiness. Very ‘90s, indeed.
It’s thus a nice touch that Radio Silence has carried that tradition on in a new generation of Scream movies, including this weekend’s Scream 6. After the film concludes, we hear a distant cry from some poor soul (a variation of inserting a Ghostface attack close-up from ’96) and soon enough cast members Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, and Courteney Cox are appearing again to take their retro final bow in freeze frame. And as soon as that bit ended, most of my audience cleared out. After all, that’s how all the previous Scream movies have ended in the last 27 years!
But for those of us who stayed all the way to the very end of the long credits roll (or at least know someone who did), we were given a treat: Scream’s very first post-credits scene! At last, the franchise has fully transitioned to the 21st century, right?
Well, not quite…
While Scream 6 features a post-credits scene, it is neither a tease for a potential Scream 7 or even a new sequence set after the grisly events of the movie we just watched. The Scream 6 post-credit scene is instead a moment from earlier in the movie that we had simply been denied seeing until now.
Jumping back in time to the first act where Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) goes full Randy and breaks down the rules that she and her friends need to follow in order to survive, we get one more final and devastating rule. Apparently after explaining to her pals that they’re no longer in a sequel to a slasher movie, or even a legacy sequel/requel—rather they’re in a “franchise” that will keep going until they’re all dead and in the dirt—Mindy adds one final point about new franchise movies.
Yes, they can kill off legacy characters to keep the drip of sweet, sweet IP flowing, and yeah, precedent states all the new faces sitting next to the Core Four will either be victims or killers (which turned out to be true!), but for the love of God, can they at least have some originality?!
All but looking square into the camera, Mindy states righteously, “Not all movies need a post-credits scene!” Cut to black, and it’s over, folks!
This retroactively makes Mindy’s explainer scene so much better. Honestly, as good as Brown is in the sequence (and really coming into her own as this character), we’ve now had six scenes of someone explaining the franchise rules and winking to the audience. But by basically breaking the fourth wall and lightly admonishing those of us so thirsty for more #content we stick around an extra five minutes, Scream 6 and Mindy are both critiquing modern Hollywood formulae and how it’s trained audiences better than Pavlov’s dog.
Not every story, even if it’s the sixth entry in the franchise, needs to tease audiences with promises of more sequels to come, nor do they typically need a postscript if they stuck their real ending well enough. If you want easter eggs, Scream 6 is littered with them! Right down to one of the film’s first victims (and simultaneously first Ghostfaces) being seen watching Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) on TV!
You got everything you needed in the movie. Go home, it’s over.