The Scream films have always been outliers in the horror genre, on account of not being defined by their killers; sure, the Ghostface mask (and Roger L. Jackson’s voice) pop up in every installment of the pentalogy, but, for a horror franchise, they’re unexpectedly protagonist-driven, focused on Neve Campbell’s Sydney Prescott and her increasingly non-teen friends. The franchise’s last film, this January’s Scream, did its best to carve out some space for series newcomer Melissa Barrera and its other young survivors, but… Well, there still was a whole lot of Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox in there too, right?
Scream 2022 did well enough for itself that it got a sequel pretty much immediately, with Campbell and Cox both signing on to return alongside fifth-film stars Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, and Jenna Ortega. Now, it turns out that another alum is also being added to the mix, in the form of Panettiere’s Kirby.
Panettiere was one of the best parts of Scream 4, imbuing Kirby with qualities that might have made her a lock for Final Girl in a franchise less enamored with screwing with expectations. She’s also, notably, the only major teen character to have survived that particular bloodbath, putting her in her own little survivors’ club with Sydney and Gale.
Panettiere has been fairly quiet, career-wise, in recent years; she hasn’t had a major project on the books since her series Nashville ended in 2018. Scream 4 is her only major horror film credit…although she did also star in 2015's Until Dawn, one of the best video game explorations of the genre in recent years.
No word yet on how Kirby will be brought back into the Scream canon, but the franchise’s sixth film is set to start production this summer.