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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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    • Another reason Sidney may have fixated on Cotton as a suspect was because she did not want to think about who the other most likely suspect would be — her father. She may still have had some lingering doubts about his innocence, but she would not let herself think too deeply about them because she didn't want to lose the only parent she had left.
    • 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 Flanderized 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.
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  • 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.
  • Catharsis Factor: Billy's death, 'nuff said.
  • Critical Research Failure: You'd think that Billy Loomis of all people would know that Norman Bates did have a motive.
    • Though it could count as an aversion, as Norman actually didn't have a motive to kill people. Norma (aka Mother) did. And anyone who has seen the film series, or even read the novels, can attest to that.
  • 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:
    • Dewey proved to be one with test audiences, prompting Wes Craven to spare him in the final cut, rather than his planned death.
    • Randy as well for being the Plucky Comic Relief and Genre Savvy.
    • Stu is often considered one of the best Ghostfaces, mainly due to Matthew Lillard's Large Ham performance and memorable lines.
    • Tatum, for her actress, attractiveness, sense of style, friendship with Sidney, fight against Ghostface and memorable death scene.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
  • 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.
  • 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, and plan to be immortalized as a result. You're either talking about Billy Loomis and Stu Macher, or the Columbine High School killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. 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. Not to mention that Tatum makes a reference to I Spit on Your Grave - an infamous Rape and Revenge flick.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Throughout the film, it's clear that Tatum is a very caring and supportive best friend to Sidney. After Casey is murdered, Tatum lets Sidney sleep over so she won't be alone and assures her she'll get to the house as soon as possible. And when Sidney is attacked, Tatum never leaves her side, defends her from Gale's prying and calls Stu on his insensitivity to her the next day.
    • Gale shows her softer side and looks genuinely pleased when Dewey admits he may have a thing for her. The movie doesn't confirm if she was partly using him to get a story, but it leans more towards no and that she was sincere.
    • Sidney's relief when Randy and Dewey turn out to be alive, as well as getting to save her dad.
  • 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 who spends all of his time running from creeps in masks. 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 this film, Matthew Lillard's character frames the victim's secret lover for murder after the police find the lover's DNA on the victim and the victim's blood on the lover's clothing. In Twin Peaks, Matthew Lillard's character, who is also an innocent man, is accused of murdering his secret lover after the police find his DNA all over the crime scene.
    • 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. Charmed even used Love Spit Love's cover of "How Soon Is Now?" as its theme song. 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, Ghostface 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.
    • 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 terrorized by a masked Serial Killer. Plus in both Scream and Riverdale there's actually two of them.
    • Early on, Stu dismisses the idea of the killer being a girl. In Scream 2, one of the killers is Billy's mother; likewise, one of the killers in Scream 4 is Sidney's teenage cousin Jill.
    • Throughout the film, many characters wrongly suspect that Randy is actually Ghostface. In the fourth film, the Randy Expy is revealed to be the new Ghostface's accomplice.
  • 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'. The writers of Scary Movie noticed as well and explicitly made their counterparts in that film 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 postmodern humor and target them increasingly at teenagers. Even some who think that it's a great movie on its own merits, such as Drew Dietsch at Bloody-Disgusting, have argued that its status as the defining horror film of The '90s cast a negative shadow over the decade's horror films as a whole, between its strong parody elements and its imitators. 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 while causing many people who had been dismissive towards the slasher genre before to give it another look. 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:
  • 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 theorized as a reference to Friday the 13th (1980) - where Marcie Cunningham wore a similar outfit just as she was killed.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Drew Barrymore only gets thirteen minutes of scream time, but it's easily the most famous scene in the first movie and provided a Career Resurrection after her long battle with alcoholism.
    • Henry Winkler has a brief but wonderful performance in an uncredited role as the principal.
    • The unnamed girl in the bathroom stall whose quick to incredulously put down her friends bizarre story about Sidney being the killer.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • Scream was literally one of the first mainstream movies to act as a Genre Deconstruction. It satirized 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 recognizable 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.
      • Neil Prescott included. His wife was murdered and her affair dragged out in public. Then his daughter gets targeted for the first, but not only, time.
    • There's also the scene the next day where we see a shot of Casey's empty seat in the classroom.
    • The bathroom scene where Sidney has to overhear someone slut shame her mother, and suspect her of being the killer. Neve Campbell conveys so much pain just by looking in the mirror.
    • Sidney finding Tatum.
    • Stu having a Villainous Breakdown when he worries about his parents finding out what he did.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Tatum for some. While her death scene is a well-liked and memorable one, there are those who really feel the character deserved to make it to the climax, or even the sequels, and could have been used to subvert the cliche of the the hero's/heroine's best friend getting killed present in so many movies.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: By not including Dewey's reaction to Tatum dying. This makes a little more sense if you know that Dewey was in limbo to possibly die as well, making filming a reaction difficult. Still, he barely seems affected in the subsequent films.
  • 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.
  • The Woobie:


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