FILM STUDY: why SCREAM [1996] is an important horror film

Ever since 1996, slasher film maker Wes Craven hasn’t made a movie like Scream. While not all of the movies were perfect, one thing is for certain: the movies certainly did flip the slasher movie genre around its head. Even today, the Scream franchise has had it’s influence on pop culture, and many different horror films. We haven’t seen a new film since Scream 4 which was back in 2011, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they decided to make a fifth. With MTV announcing that they will be making a TV series based on the films, I decided to re-watch the first in the series, and analyze why it’s such an important film in the horror genre as an whole. I even wrote up a Friday Fun Fact on the movie – which can be read here – because it’s so damn entertaining to watch!

besides the fact that the film is self-aware, Scream had been credited with revitalizing the horror genre in the late 90s by combining a typical slasher film with filled with humor, it’s awareness of horror film clichés and a fairly clever plot! While Scream was one of the highest grossing films of 1996 and became, and remains; the highest grossing slasher film in the world, its success was only matched by Scream 2, which not only broke box-office records at the time but also had some critics argue that it was actually a better film than the original. Unfortunately, Scream 3 ended up being considered worse [by many, including myself] than its predecessors, both critically and financially. Critics even were making comments that it had become the type of horror film Scream was making fun of in the first place.. It did however, receive some positive responses with claims that it was the perfect end to the film trilogy.. at least until Scream 4 came out..

Another important thing to note is that there has been a few films that tried to follow in the footsteps of Scream, including the ever famous I Know What You Did Last Summer [which would make sense, since it’s screenplay was written by the same guy] and surprisingly, Bride Of Chucky [considering it’s poster pretty well ripped off Scream 2, and it’s totally self-aware]

Being as we’re only talking about the first Scream film, one of the bigger twists that we, the viewers, learn was the fact that not only was Billy the killer, but Stu was one as well. [as seen above] This tends to raise question[s] like: who killed whom? Obviously, to make things less suspecting – one would stick around, while the other killed. To clear up confusion for first time viewers, I’ve made a list of the deaths [of characters] and who committed the kill, So hopefully, this helps clear the confusion.. If you don’t remember a name, be sure to click on the name of the individual to see the character in the film. Enjoy:


PHONE CALLS: There are three main phone calls in the film. The first is Casey‘s, the second is Sidney‘s, and the third is the one Sidney gets at Tatum‘s house. In the film, Billy and Stu are using a voice changer to disguise their voice which means it could have been either one of them at any time. But, if you look at the script, there originally was no voice changer. That wasn’t added in until later. In the original script, you find out at the end that it as Stu doing an impression the whole time, which means he did all of the calls. They probably changed it only because they were worried the audience would recognize Matthew Lillard [who played Stu], but that doesn’t change the fact that Kevin, the screenwriter, envisioned Stu making those calls. There’s other evidence, too. The cops checked Billy‘s phone records and found no calls to Casey or Sidney. And if Billy somehow did do the Sidney call, how come the cops couldn’t find a voice changer on him or at the scene? And because he didn’t have said voice changer in jail, he couldn’t have done the call to Tatum‘s house.

STEVE: First, lets get this out of the way. Both killers were there. Some say Stu couldn’t have been there because Tatum says Stu was with her that night, but what about what Randy said? “Was that before or after he SLICED and DICED?” We don’t know how long he was at Tatum‘s, which means Stu could have helped kill Casey and Steve and then went over to Tatum‘s, or he could have went to Tatum‘s first and THEN helped kill Casey and Steve. We already know he made the phone calls, but there’s also the fact that the killer gets around quickly in this scene, which Wes and Kevin explain in the commentary as they were needing more than one killer. So who killed Steve was probably Billy. Stu was on the phone, so Billy probably had more elbow room and free time. Plus, Steve is gutted practically as soon as the killer stops talking, which shows that there wouldn’t be enough time for Stu to make the kill.

CASEY: Kevin Williamson already confirmed on Twitter that it was Stu, and there’s enough evidence to support that., When Casey takes off the killer’s mask before being stabbed, there’s a big dramatic “she knows who it is” moment, and based on the fact that we know Casey used to date Stu. [which would explain why she was targeted in the first place]

SIDNEY’S ATTACK: Again, both were there, while Stu made the call. So who popped out of the closet? Look how fast the killer disappears and Billy appears – it couldn’t have been Billy. It had to be Stu. On a sidenote: Billy dropped the phone on purpose because he wanted to get arrested so the cops could find out he didn’t make the calls and he would be written off as a suspect. It’d also help guilt trip Sidney into sleeping with him. Not to mention, they were planning on killing Sidney on her mother’s anniversary, which wasn’t for another 2 days in-movie.

BATHROOM ATTACK: This one is difficult and also heavily debated. It couldn’t be Stu because Stu was wearing brown pants and the person in the bathroom was wearing dark blue washed jeans. This means it was either Billy or one of the pranksters. First off, when did they get in there? Sidney goes in, goes into the handicap stall, the two cheerleaders come out and leave, then Sidney comes out right after. No interruptions. So the person must have been waiting there the whole time. It raises the question of how could it be Billy when Sidney entered the bathroom in order to get away from him? This makes me believe it was probably one of the two pranksters. The following scene with the reporter seems to hint at this when she says “Many teens have been seen wearing scary masks..”

MR. HIMBRY’S DEATH: with Stu was outside inviting people to his party, Billy was the only one available to be the one killing Himbrey. quick, and easy.

BUSHES AND GROCERY STORE: Some assume this to be another prankster, but a prank usually involves someone popping out and going “BOO!”, so when the person in the bushes and in the grocery store was plainly stalking someone.. That’s not a prank. Therefore, I’d say it’s probably Billy again. Who knows? He was perhaps following Sidney around to see if she still suspected him.

TATUM’S DEATH: Stu was inside entertaining his guests, so it makes you wonder where was Billy? Isn’t it convenient that he doesn’t show up until right after Tatum‘s death? it can be inferred that Stu sent Tatum to get him a beer where Billy was waiting the whole time. They needed her out of the way so Billy could be alone with Sidney. “If Tatum sees you she’ll draw blood”, can also be taken as a dark, but humorous clue.

BILLY’S “DEATH”: Stu: Obviously.

BEHIND RANDY: Some say it’s Billy because actor Skeet Ulrich was the actor in costume while filming the scene, but that’s just because Skeet really wanted to wear it at some point. [whereas Matthew Lillard never got the chance to] This doesn’t mean the character is in costume, or else that’s like saying that Billy and Stu didn’t kill anybody and it was a stuntman the whole time. This makes it seem it was probably Stu. After Sidney got away he came downstairs after her, then that’s when he heard Randy talking to the TV.

KENNY’S DEATH: Probably Stu. It was also the same person that was behind Randy, which can be proven by the editing of the movie.

DEWEY STABBING/COP CAR SCENE: This one is also tricky. Let’s start with the order of events: Stu kills Kenny, Dewey and Gale come back from their walk, Dewey goes into the house, Gale crashes the van, and Dewey comes out of the house with the knife in his back followed by the killer. The stabbing could have been Stu, except for one thing: “I thought you said she was dead”. “She looked dead, man. Still does.” This means that Stu must have checked on Gale, but how could he have done so if he was in the house stabbing Dewey? He probably couldn’t even see the crash from in there, let alone check on her. So there’s the possibility that it was Billy. He heard Dewey calling names, got himself into costume, came down, and then stabbed him in the back. That’s when he saw Sidney, who was clearly terrorized her in the car while Stu was checking on Gale, then disappeared and found a way back upstairs while Randy and Stu were with Sidney. But that raises a question: when did Stu even tell Billy that Gale was dead, and how did he get back upstairs without anyone noticing? The most likely scenario is that the line was added in for a joke but wasn’t really thought out fully. If that’s the case, it was most likely Stu who did the stabbing.


Hopefully, the above list explains things a little better. It’s a complicated film in it’s own right, but it’s also very clever. Although the sequels weren’t all as good – the classic first film is probably my favorite. While I’m still a bigger fan boy of Wes Craven’s original film: A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream is still just as good, making both cult classics within the horror genre! With the talks of a Scream TV Show, I’m both worried and excited – because now anything is fair game for Ghostface. Now I turn to you, the reader, do you like the SCREAM movies? If so, which sequel is your favorite? Let me know in a comment or two!

Also, if you enjoyed reading this piece, please take a minute and head over to Facebook to click the “like” button on my Facebook page. By clicking “like”, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been posted. if that’s not convincing enough, I also share things that will not be featured here on the blog.  So be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share the page with family and friends!

THANKS FOR READING.

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