Do you like scary movies? The Scream movie series has been ongoing since 1996, setting a new standard for slasher movies in its wake. The first Scream movie holds a spot as one of the classic slasher films and keeps the audience immersed through ongoing mystery and suspenseful plot twists. The original Scream movie outshines its following movies in the series even without metaversal elements and by simply being the only movie in the series with an original plot.
Scream, the first in the series, was the beginning of the ongoing plot line, hinging on killers who are somehow closely affiliated with the other characters and decide to go on a rampage to kill them and all their friends. Revenge is a common theme in most of the Scream movies as the motive for murder, along with peer pressure and the need for fame . Sidney Prescott, the original protagonist and “final girl” of the Scream franchise, remains a target throughout the majority of the film series because of her mother’s actions and her rise to fame within their town. Sidney has to defend herself against multiple people who take on the Ghostface persona. The first of her attackers was Billy Loomis, her ex-boyfriend, and his accomplice Stu Macher. Billy devises his plan to kill Sidney because of his claim that her mother is responsible for tearing his family apart, and he peer pressures Stu into helping him carry out his plan. In true Scream fashion, Stu becomes one of Billy’s victims much like the other accomplices throughout the series who are peer pressured into becoming the next Ghostface.
The movies since the first Scream have incorporated a metaverse aspect in which there is a movie series that exists within the series. These movies are titled “Stab,” and they reflect each of the Ghostface incidents as written by Gale Weathers, an author and reporter from the first movie. Revenge wasn’t Billy’s only motive to kill Sidney in this movie but also the twisted fact that he just wanted to do it. The following Ghostfaces were equally twisted, like Mickey Alieri (Scream 2) who wanted to be famous and was inspired by the “Stab” series, Jill Roberts (Scream 4), Sidney’s jealous cousin who wanted a piece of the fame, and Richie Kirsche and Amber Freeman in Scream 5, who were obsessed with the “Stab” movies and wanted to re-enact them for their own film inspiration.
The “Stab” series takes away from Scream’s original charm as a slasher by creating corny scenarios in which local horror movie fans feel inclined to re-enact them. Because of this, Sidney keeps her title as the “last girl” in the films Scream1-5 since she is the protagonist in the “Stab” movies and a target for people’s desire for attention. Gale Weathers is largely to blame for making Sidney a target since she used Sidney’s traumatic story about her mom’s death as her own claim to fame and started the “Stab” series in the first place. The series also begins to present supernatural elements that hadn’t existed previously in depictions of Sidney’s mom and incorporating ghosts of previous killers throughout the films. Not only does Scream’s cheesiness take away from its initial charm, but the plot itself has been overplayed in the sense that many of the killers share similar motives and Sidney is consistently put on the spot because of the fame she gained from her mom’s murder and her initial run-in with Ghostface.
I still find joy in the Scream franchise as one of my favorite slasher films, but I find the newer movies difficult to take seriously. They each play on common themes, rarely introduce new concepts and continue to use the same characters. At the same time, Scream could also be considered satirical in its depictions of the typical horror movie, crazed fans and those desperate for fame. My continued investment in the series comes from the fact that Ghostface, and all those who embrace the persona, are consistent in how Ghostface is characterized. Each one adds to Ghostface’s immaturity through their motives and are comically bad at fighting considering they do not carry out their plans successfully.
By: Elaina Irving, Contributing Writer
Graphic by: Shae-Lynn Henderson, EIC