Jokes about the Scream franchise coming back over and over again are pretty much built into the premise. After all, the Wes Craven-Kevin Williamson series of slasher films is predicated on self-awareness of the tropes of horror films, including the unkillable killer, the eternal final girl, and lots and lots of gore. Fittingly, the recent reboot/legacy sequel series is leaning into the trope of never letting go of a character that could be brought back. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Scream 4 and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere will be returning for the upcoming next installment of Scream. Plot details of the next film are scarce so far, but we can pretty much guarantee it will involve some survivors of the last movie being pursued by a new incarnation of the iconic Ghostface killer.
Hayden Panettiere starred in 2011’s Scream 4 (or SCRE4M, if you’re nasty) as Kirby Reed. The character is introduced as the best friend of Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), the cousin of series star Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). There are going to be some spoilers ahead for an 11-year-old slasher movie, so be warned. In Scream 4, it turns out that Jill has been masterminding the Ghostface murders that time around, motivated by jealousy for her cousin’s “fame” for managing to survive a gruesome series of stabbings. This also fit in with the recurrent theme of the Ghostface killers being directly connected to Sidney in some way. Initially, the first Ghostface was Sidney’s boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and his weird friend, the next was Billy’s mother (Laurie Metcalf) and some guy from the Internet, the third was her secret half-brother (Scott Foley), and then finally, her cousin. For a change, Hayden Panettiere as the best friend of the killer was not actually involved.
The 2022 revival of Scream as a legacy continuation of the franchise (with much discussion by hyper-verbose teens on the nature of legacy sequels) was a major commercial success and widely praised by critics as a return to form for the series. Hayden Panettiere’s character was briefly referenced by way of a photograph that confirmed her survival at the end of Scream 4 (she got stabbed during the course of the film, naturally). This immediately led to speculation that the character would return to the series in some capacity, and it turns out that Panettiere is up for it.
Hayden Panettiere first came to pop culture prominence as a super-powered cheerleader in the early 2000s NBC series Heroes. The show was a sensation at the time, with Panettiere’s visibility being particularly boosted by the recurrent phrase and tagline “save the cheerleader, save the world.” She would appear in several films around that time period, including I Love You, Beth Cooper and the marine conservation documentary The Cove. Her career hit a new high when she co-starred with Connie Britton in the country music soap opera series Nashville. Beginning on ABC and later transitioning to CMT, the show lasted for six seasons. The upcoming sixth Scream movie does not yet have a title, but is scheduled to be released in 2023 with returning Scream revival stars Melissa Barrera, Jasmine Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, and Jenna Ortega.