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YMMV / Scream (1996)

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • It's written into the film that Sidney is naming Cotton Weary as her mother's killer partly to punish him for having an affair with her mother. One has to wonder if - considering Maureen had an affair with Billy's father too - she ever suspected what her mother had been doing and has just gone into denial. Part of her conflict could come from knowing deep down that she's condemning an innocent man to death just to preserve this image she has of her mother.
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    • As it's unknown how long they were together before he murdered her mother, could Billy be keeping his relationship with Sidney going just for the sake of punishing Maureen? It's stated that he keeps pressuring her into sex, which takes on a harsher light after The Reveal.
    • Before the sequels Flanderised the bitchy part of Gale's character, it's unknown if she actually did like Dewey or she was just turning on the charm in the hopes of getting a good story.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Surprisingly averted with Billy Loomis. Though he just screams suspicious — strong knowledge of scary movies, appearing at suspicious times, the cell phone, the occasionally strange behavior — the narrative makes sure to introduce this early, coupled with his apparently loving and protective nature with Sidney, to make the audience think he's just a Red Herring, a fact confirmed when he is seemingly stabbed; this makes The Reveal that he is indeed one of the killers effectively shocking and fresh even years later.
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  • Draco in Leather Pants: Though Billy Loomis is a sociopath and remorseless killer, he's still played by a young and attractive Skeet Ulrich, which is enough to make some admirers swoon even when he's covered in (fake) blood and proclaim that they love "dangerous guys."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • First Installment Wins: Which of the films in the series featured Drew Barrymore's iconic death scene and Randy's slasher film rules (the most famous ones, anyway)?
  • Fridge Brilliance: In-universe, the Ghostface costume is called Father Death, alluding to the Grim Reaper. But the mask doesn't look like a skull, it's, well, a ghost... UNTIL, you look at the "nose" of the mask which resembles the nose hole of a human skull.
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  • Genre Turning Point: Horror movies beforehand were usually B-movies or went Direct-to-Video - save for a handful of Cult Classics. Slashers in particular were seen as the bottom of the barrel. Once Drew Barrymore attached herself to the project, numerous more popular actors were interested. With the film becoming a Sleeper Hit, horror became much more respectable and mainstream. I Know What You Did Last Summer is living proof - it had been written before Scream and Kevin Williamson had trouble selling it. Once this film was picked up, it was immediately greenlit with names like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt attached.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Two movie-obsessed teenagers, one a good-looking sociopath and the other a goofy-looking follower, go on a killing spree, which kills various students and one teacher. You're either talking about Billy Loomis and Stu Macher or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre. The third film was actually rewritten in the wake of Columbine, with a lot of the violence heavily edited down, and at least one scene alludes to the chilling effect that the massacre had on the horror genre at the time.
    • Not to mention the multiple copycats inspired by the film.
    • Rose McGowan's character being the victim of sexually charged violence becomes this in late 2017 when she (along with numerous other actresses) revealed that she had been raped by Harvey Weinstein, who executive produced the movie.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Billy Loomis states that the Powers That Be never decided why Hannibal Lecter likes to eat people as an example of how motives don't make things better. Cue Hannibal Rising, which serves as Lecter's origin story, and was poorly received to the point of being a Franchise Killer.
    • Matthew Lillard plays a creep in a mask. Six years later he would play Shaggy. Lillard also played a killer accomplice on Law & Order: SVU. Although he lived in the episode, he unfortunately did not have parents to be mad at him, but rather somebody far more disturbing... Even more amusingly Cartoon Network once did a Scooby-Doo promo parodying Scream. Guess whose role Shaggy has a turn at.
    • Lillard is also one of the targets of a Serial Killer in the first season of the show The Bridge.
    • In the opening scene, Casey finds her boyfriend Steve tied up on her lawn, and the voice on the telephone says that in order to free him, she has to play a game with him. It ends with Steve gutting gutted like a fish, due to Casey's failure of answering one of the caller's questions. The fourth film even referenced the Saw franchise.
    • Both Neve Campbell and Rose McGowan, who play best friends in this, have played witches before. Campbell had just done The Craft (also with Skeet Ulrich), and McGowan would later do Charmed. Even more hilarious with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the second film.
    • Mixed with Defictionalization, Dewey says the reason the police aren't able to track down who bought the Ghost Face costume is because it's "sold in every five-and-dime in the state." Today, Ghost Face has become the best-selling Halloween costume of all time.
    • Going meta here, but producers were reluctant to cast Courteney Cox as Gale - feeling she was too nice to play such a bitchy character. This was before Monica on Friends underwent severe Flanderization to become far nastier and shriller, as well as her bitchy turns on Scrubs, Dirt and Cougar Town.
    • Neve Campbell almost didn't take the role of Sidney because she had just done another horror film The Craft. And Skeet Ulrich had starred in that too - and there's a scene where Neve's character remarks that she's the only girl in school he doesn't come onto. What's more is that Breckin Meyer (who was also in The Craft) nearly got the role of Randy in this - and he had played Skeet Ulrich's best friend in the former.
    • Tatum's death becomes funny when you learn that during filming Rose McGowan really could fit through the cat flap, and her shirt had to be stapled to it so she wouldn't fall out.
    • Twenty years later, Skeet Ulrich stars in Riverdale, the second season of which has the small town terrorised by a masked Serial Killer. Plus in both Scream and Riverdale there's actually two of them.
  • Ho Yay: Billy and Stu ('Give it to me, babe! Get it up!') Also noted by Sidney: 'Pansy assed momma's boy!' and Randy, who calls Billy 'homo-repressed'. In the Scary Movie, a well known parody of this movie, they are actually a couple.
  • Hype Backlash: A lot of horror fans, especially those from The '80s (such as Bob Chipman), see this film as having killed the horror genre, feeling that it made it impossible to take seriously anymore while causing studios to cram their horror films with post modern humor and target them increasingly at teenagers. Others, however, believe that it saved the genre from the burnout that it experienced in the early '90s, creating a new generation of horror fans. It should be noted that the first movie was intended to kill the genre, or at least slashers (but instead revitalized it), making such a backlash expected.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Casey's death at the time was an enormous shock to audiences due to the fact that Drew Barrymore was advertised as one of the leading cast members of the film. It's widely known among the horror community today that she was one of the first victims of Ghostface.
    • At the time, it was surprising and subversive to have there be two killers instead of one, but even viewers unfamiliar with the film are aware of the twist. Who the two killers are may come as a surprise, however.
  • Love to Hate: Gale Weathers is so wonderfully bitchy and gets all the best lines. The fact that she has several softer moments helps too.
  • Narm: The tension during Tatum's death scene is undercut somewhat by her distractingly erect nipples (as the garage was notoriously cold during filming the scene). This has been theorised as a reference to Friday the 13th (1980) - where Marcy wore a similar outfit just as she was killed.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Drew Barrymore only gets fifteen minutes of scream time, but it's easily the most famous scene in the first movie and provided a Career Resurrection as a future star actress after her long battle with alcoholism.
    • Henry Winkler has a wonderful but brief performance in an uncredited role as the principal.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • Scream was literally one of the first major mainstream movies to act as a Genre Deconstruction. It satirised the cliched nature of the slasher genre and the Genre Savvy characters were new and innovative at the time. Pretty much any horror films made afterwards have thrown some Lampshade Hanging or other forms of post modernism in there. After a decade of slasher films with Genre Savvy characters, Scream doesn't seem quite as fresh anymore.
    • The opening scene was shocking and up there with Janet Leigh's infamous death in Psycho. Drew Barrymore was a recognisable star and most viewers expected that she would be the main character. It was shocking that she'd be killed off in the first ten minutes. It's now become a staple of the franchise to have a Dead Star Walking in the opening, making the original lose a lot of its shock factor.
    • To a lesser extent, the mask of the killer. The design predates the movie, and back in the day, it was a common generic Halloween mask, of the sort that you might pick up from a Halloween store, adding to the idea that the killer was just a regular guy imitating slasher villains. Obviously, since then, everyone just thinks of it as the Scream mask.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The fact that all of the victims have parents. Even the killers. And they are never going to see them alive. Sadly, we see one of those reactions when Casey's mom finds her. She crumbles.
    • There's also the scene the next day where we see a shot of Casey's empty seat in the classroom.
    • Sidney finding Tatum.
    • Stu having a Villainous Breakdown when he worries about his parents finding out what he did.
  • The Un-Twist: Billy is the main suspect, acts obviously deranged, and has lots of evidence stacked against him, leading you to believe he's just a Red Herring. Even if you're able to figure out he's Ghostface, the true twist is that there are two Ghostfaces.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Billy Loomis may have been intended as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, since the reason given for killing Maureen Prescott was that she had an affair and that's why his mother left him. This doesn't really wash however, considering he also killed a bunch of innocent people who had nothing to do with it, seemingly just for his and Stu's amusement
  • The Woobie:
    • Casey is tortured over and over in the first ten minutes - having to watch her boyfriend die, have her home invaded and run for her life. She also dies just as she thinks she's made it to safety.
    • Her parents too, judging by how close they seemed to their daughter.
    • Sidney of course lost her mother one year ago, and has to face the facts that said mother wasn't the saint she thought she was.
    • Cotton Weary counts as well, being sent to jail for a murder he didn't commit. As if this wasn't cruel enough, he's only out a few months before getting murdered.


Example of: