Spoilers ahead for Scream – you have been warned!
When Scream became a sleeper hit in 1996, it redefined how the horror franchise tackles pop culture. By infusing each film with real-world movie trivia and tongue-in-cheek cameos, the creators of the franchise have created a rich, intricate, sometimes mind-bending meta world where Ghostface can wreak havoc. The latest installment of the series, Scream, continued this legacy with its exploration of fan culture – and that meant more fun cultural references. But one such nod almost went even farther with the inclusion of a cameo from a polarizing Star Wars alum.
For the 1997 sequel, screenwriter Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven introduced a movie-within-the-movie, Stab, which was based on the horrific events the characters went through in the first film. In subsequent movies, we saw the fake feature take on a life of its own, becoming an increasingly disappointing franchise – which was, in itself, a clever way to poke fun at the real-life film series in which it exists.
Stab continues to play an important role in the fictional universe, too. In the newest installment, fans online are not happy about where the franchise is going, especially Stab 8, which – we learn – was helmed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi (the saga’s eighth installment) director Rian Johnson. While he’s referenced in the dialogue, it turns out the original plan was for Johnson to make a cameo. One of Scream’s directors, Tyler Gillett, told Variety why that didn’t happen:
Okay, working on the sequel to your massively successful dark comedy is an acceptable reason to miss out on a high-profile cameo. Though now that I know what could have been, I wish we could have seen Rian Johnson in what likely would have been a hilariously meta moment.
Even without that cameo, the movie delivered plenty of satisfying pop culture touch points for fans. There were surprise appearances by legacy characters and easter eggs from other classic horror franchises. There was even a self-referential nod to the decision to name the film Scream, rather than Scream 5, which co-director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin told Variety gave them a chance to “use the movie to look at the movie.”
All of these elements, including the use of Rian Johnson as an unpopular director, came together to help make the new installment a big success. The movie topped the box office and thrilled critics, including including CinemaBlend’s Corey Chichizola. Maybe most importantly, it left fans hoping for more – which should bode well for a potential sixth movie. If we do get another chapter of the series, maybe Rian Johnson will have a chance to do that cameo after all.
Scream is currently playing in theaters.