Articles for Horror: “Scream”

Plot summary of the 1996 movie “Scream.” This article contains spoilers!


Roger Ebert

Movie poster for the 1996 movie “Scream.”

Autumn Castle, Staff Writer

Who was Ghostface?

Ghostface first appeared in “Scream” (1996) as a disguise used by Billy Loomis and Stu Macher during their murder spree in Woodsboro. 

Billy Loomis and Stu Macher were both behind the mask of Ghostface for the first “Scream” movie, and this would be the first time an audience has seen two people be portrayed as one killer. 

Ghostface uses a voice changer to terrorize his victims over the phone and conceal his identity further. The changed voice became one of the most well-known elements of the franchise. Before killing a victim, he’ll call them and talk to them, and his responses and questions will get creepier and creepier until the victim tries to hang up on him. One of Ghostface’s most-known phrases in the franchise is “What’s your favorite scary movie?”

What was “Scream?”

Teenager Casey Becker received a phone call from a stranger while she was home alone. The caller starts off friendly, discussing horror movies with Casey. However, the conversation turns dark after he asks for her name, and when she asks why he wants to know, he replies “Because I want to know who I’m looking at.” 

When the stranger implies that he is watching Casey, she hangs up on him twice before he yells at her, threatening to gut her like a fish. She then tells him that her boyfriend will be there any minute, and the stranger threatens her life and the life of her boyfriend, Steve, who is tied up in the backyard. He gives Casey the option to play a game with him in order to save their lives, where Casey answers questions about horror films. 

She gets two of the stranger’s questions right, but falls short on the last when he asks who the killer was in “Friday the 13th.” Steve is then murdered in front of her as a result. She’s given an opportunity to answer more questions to spare her life, but she refuses. As a result, Casey is stabbed. During this, she’s able to lift his mask, seeing the killer’s true identity before she meets her end.

A short time later, Casey’s parents return home to find her dismembered body hanging from a tree.

The next day, the media appeared at Woodsboro High School, where the victims attended, and reported on the investigation that was just beginning. Sidney Prescott, Casey’s classmate, struggles with both Casey’s death and the anniversary of the murder of her mother, Maureen. Maureen was murdered by Cotton Weary, although Weary has claimed that he was framed for the crime. 

Everyone in the school was getting interrogated in relation to the murder of Casey and Steve. Billy, Stu, Sidney, Tatum, and Randy are a tight-knit friend group sitting together at the fountain and talking about the murders. It raises Randy’s suspicion when Billy and Stu start joking about it. 

While Sidney was waiting at home for her friend Tatum, Sidney receives a phone call from the same stranger as Casey. Sidney hangs up on the stranger after he says “If you hang up on me you’ll die, just like your mother.”  

Once she hangs up, she is attacked but successfully runs away from the killer. Sidney’s boyfriend, Billy, arrives shortly after, but Sidney suspects Billy as the killer. He is then turned in to the police by Sidney, where he is interrogated and held there as a prime suspect. Media is covering the front part of the station, leaving Sidney to have to exit through the back door. Gale Weathers, a reporter, finds herself at that back exit and bombards her with questions. Sidney then brings up the fact that Gale is writing a book about the death of her mother, and Gale says that she’d send her a copy of it, resulting in a punch to the face.

The next day, Billy is released from jail due to the phone call being made. The police’s attention shifts to Sidney’s missing father, Neil Prescott, as Billy has since been ruled out as a suspect. It’s revealed that the calls have all been traced back to her father’s phone. 

Due to the deaths and the attacks on Sidney, school is suspended.

Later that day, Tatum’s boyfriend, Stu, decided to throw a party that night to celebrate the school’s suspension. In preparation, Stu went to the movie rental store Randy worked at to rent horror movies for his party. There, Stu talked to Randy while he worked, and Randy tells him about his suspicion of Billy being the murderer. 

Many students attend the party, and Gale shows up uninvited to cover the story, as she believed that the killer would strike. Tatum’s brother, Deputy Sheriff Dewey, also watches over the party as he has similar suspicions. 

During the night, Tatum goes into the garage alone to get more drinks where she meets the ghost-faced killer. She thinks it’s a prank and says “No, please don’t kill me Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!” After she says this he attacks her, and only then does she realize that he’s the real killer. She saw a cat door in the garage and tried to crawl through in an attempt to escape. The killer then raises the garage door and Tatum gets stuck, meeting her demise as she gets her neck and head crushed.

Billy then comes to the party alone where he and Sidney have a talk, and Sidney apologizes for accusing him. 

The students drank and gathered around to watch horror movies, stopping to comment about the rules of surviving a horror movie. Randy makes a big point that saying you’ll “be right back” in a horror movie means that you won’t come back, and Stu uses this line to mess with him. At the same time, another murder at the school broadcasted on the news caused many of the students to leave the party. Sidney, Billy, Randy, Stu, Gale, and Gale’s camera operator, Kenny, are left in Stu’s house. 

Meanwhile, Dewey and Gale investigate the area around Stu’s house. They discover Neil’s abandoned car near the house, and before they are able to get back, the killer slashes Kenny’s throat, killing him.

After talking, Sidney and Billy are met by the killer, who attacked and stabbed Billy. During the stabbing, Sidney took the opportunity to escape and look for help.

Gale and Dewey make their way back to the house, where Gale discovers Kenny. She tries to escape the area in her news van, but drives off the road to avoid hitting Sidney and crashes. Dewey enters Stu’s house and is stabbed in the back by the killer. Sidney returns to the house where she found Billy wounded, but still alive. 

Sidney gives Billy the gun before he lets Randy into the house. Billy shoots Randy, and tells her that he faked his injuries and was the actual killer. Stu then walks in and admits to being Billy’s accomplice. Billy and Stu told Sidney their plan to kill her and frame her father, who they kidnapped. They also revealed that they were the ones that murdered Sidney’s mother, and stated that he did it as revenge for Sidney’s mother having an affair with his father. To make their story more believable, Billy and Stu stab each other. 

Gale appears to be alive and walks into the house, distracting Billy and Stu. Sidney takes advantage to knock Billy out with an umbrella, and drops the living room TV on Stu’s head. Billy regains consciousness and attacks Sidney, but Gale shoots him with the gun. Randy turns up alive, but is still suffering from his gunshot wound. He tells Sidney that the killer in a horror movie always reappears one last time. Sidney takes the gun and shoots Billy in the head, killing him for good.

How successful was “Scream?”

Out of every film in the franchise, the first “Scream” remains the biggest movie worldwide, which made $173 million. The film is a classic horror slasher and is one of the few franchises that didn’t have a burning downfall. The film became the highest-grossing slasher film until the release of “Halloween” (2018). 

My review

Scream is by far one of the best film franchises ever made. I enjoy the fact that the film uniquely involves two killers in the same costume. “I Saw What You Did,” (1965) was one of the first movies to include a horror-inducing phone call, and seeing them add the same aspect makes the movie all the better.

I hated Gale in the first movie, but I’ll give her a pass because she has major character development throughout the series. Although, I am incredibly happy that Sidney decked her in the face. I also hope she got a nice mind-bending concussion during that car crash. 

Stu is my favorite character, and I stand by the theory that he’s still alive. Stu also takes the title of being the best Ghostface of the franchise, his character was written so well with his showmanship acting of being “unhinged.” He’s amazing.

As much as I like Billy, he was easy to suspect from the start. He was a straight-up weirdo, and with how greasy his hair was, you know he was running around killing people.