Ghostface became a horror icon from the moment he first showed up in 1996’s “Scream,” where he terrorizes Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and the rest of the Woodsboro townsfolk.
The Wes Craven movie challenges stereotypes in a number of ways, especially through characters like Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) — a self confessed horror movie nut. He’s the one who points out that everyone in town is a suspect, as well as name-dropping a number of classic movies like “Evil Dead” and “The Fog.” Randy even lays down the typical horror rules at the party where the teens are all watching “Halloween” in the finale. The film was hugely successful, and it currently holds a 79% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, proving that it still holds up today. It (unsurprisingly) spawned several sequels over the years and was even a spin-off TV series in 2015.
Most fans are excited to see “Scream” again on the big screen, when the fifth chapter arrives in theaters on January 14, 2022, but as we wait, let’s take a look at who the killers were in each “Scream” movie — as well as why they target Sidney and her friends.
As every horror fan knows, the original is always the best. And “Scream” really carved its own place in the slasher sub-genre. It challenges the tropes seen in classic horrors. Normally, for instance, there’s an old rule that if a character has sex on-screen they’re doomed to die — but not here. Sidney sleeps with her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) just before the finale really ramps up the drama. Yet she makes it out alive, although she’s definitely left with her own demons after she realizes that Billy and his best friend Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) are the ones behind all the killings. Basically, both Billy and Stu are Ghostface. Oh dear.
Billy and Stu pick up their knives when Sidney’s mother Maureen has an affair with Billy’s father. This led to Billy’s mother leaving Woodsboro, and her son felt rejected and broken because of Maureen. He used his love for horror movies to figure out how to commit the perfect crime, killing Maureen and framing Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) for her murder. Billy and Stu’s plan is to then frame Sidney’s father for all the deaths of the students around Woodsboro, ultimately to get revenge on the whole Prescott family for Billy’s ordeal.
Obviously that didn’t quite go to plan because Sidney, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) manage to get the upper hand, and kill Billy and Stu. Yes, they’re both properly dead, Stu gets a TV dropped on his head and Sidney shoots Billy when he jumps up for a typical last scare.
Sequels are always tricky, especially when it comes to horror movies. How do you continue something when the threat’s been dealt with in the first film? Well “Scream 2” masters the art of the sequel perfectly, as it follows Sidney in college with her new boyfriend Derek Feldman (Jerry O’Connell). However, a copycat killer looks set to ruin Sidney’s life, as this new villain picks up the Ghostface mask to start killing students who have the same names as the previous Woodsboro victims.
Thankfully, writer Kevin Williamson found a way to keep the meta-approach from the original film alive, by using a surprising culprit as one of the killers.
In the movie, Sidney is hunted by none other than Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) who wants revenge for the death of her son Billy in “Scream.” Obviously she feels some guilt over the way she left Woodsboro, but she ultimately holds Sidney responsible for what happened (and to be fair, Sidney did execute him in the final moments of the first film, so there’s some merit to her argument if you ignore Billy’s homicidal actions). Mrs. Loomis works with film student Mickey Altieri who wants to be caught so that he can blame violent horror movies for his crimes.
It’s an interesting partnership to say the least, because clearly Mrs. Loomis needed a surrogate son to work through her grief — and this plan would’ve helped to do that. Thankfully Cotton Weary shoots her, and Sidney puts an extra bullet in her head to stop her from getting up in typical horror villain fashion.
2000’s “Scream 3” isn’t held in high regard like the previous films, with a 40% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an even lower audience score of 37%. Nonetheless, it still does a pretty good job of commenting on Hollywood’s obsession with trilogies. The movie picks up as Sidney is obviously quite traumatized from her ordeals with numerous killers over the years while Hollywood makes a killing off of her story with a film franchise-within-a-franchise titled “Stab.” This being a horror movie, it isn’t long before a new Ghostface starts killing the cast.
“Scream 3” wraps up the story in a neat bow, revealing that Maureen Prescott had a son years before she gave birth to Sidney called Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), and he stalked her after she rejected him years later. The threequel reveals that Roman is the one who told Billy Loomis about Maureen’s affair with his father, obviously kick-starting the whole series.
Roman doesn’t have any accomplices. He is spurred on purely out of jealousy, because Sidney is famous after surviving two previous sets of serial killers. It’s surprising that he’d blow up his own life and career to kill her, but Roman is clearly a very tortured individual. Well … that is, until Dewey shoots him in the head.
In 2011, audiences finally returned to Woodsboro over a decade after “Scream 3,” for “Scream 4,” which saw Sidney face off against a new killer for a new generation. The huge gap between the two films meant there were more opportunities for Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven to comment on how the horror genre had developed over the course of the decade. Films like “Paranormal Activity” revitalized the found footage sub-genre, by using personal cameras inside the house, which meant someone didn’t always have to be carrying the camera. And surely enough, the 2011 Ghostface takes the bold move of live-streaming all of the new attacks online.
It’s the new Ghostface’s way of ensuring infamy that survives past their death, in a way that Billy, Stu, Mrs Loomis, Mickey, and Roman failed at. And it’s a plan executed by Sidney’s niece, Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), because her childhood became all about Sidney and the ordeal she went through. Jill wanted to become a final girl in her own right, which is why she started killing her friends in a self-styled reboot. It’s definitely a clever way of switching things up, especially since she even betrays her partner-in-crime, Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) by stabbing him in the heart in the finale.
In the very end, Sidney retains her final girl crown by shooting Jill in the hospital at the close of the film (even though news reports claim that Jill is the only one to survive the new massacre). It’ll be interesting to see whether Jill’s legacy lives on when 2022’s “Scream” arrives in theaters on January 14.Internet Explorer Channel Network