By Adia Miller
**Spoilers for Scream 1-5 including killers, who dies, and other major plot points**
Scream is unlike any other horror franchise out there. Where the other mainstays like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, or Halloween play on the same themes and exist to delight in specific tropes like serials killers or ignorant teens, Scream was created to do the exact opposite to act as a meta commentary on the horror genre.
Where Jason kept coming back film after film in Friday the 13th, in Scream, a new Ghostface would pick up the moniker like the title of executioner, passing from practitioner to practitioner.
Where reboots and recasts have come and gone to little success, Scream continued on in the same universe with the same three leads for years, including a Scream Queen who only got stronger.
Where inherently foolish characters would go on in life ignoring the signs around them, Scream characters almost knew they were in a horror movie and tried to survive each movie by abiding by the “horror rules,” as titled by Randy Meeks, the in-story horror expert.
In 2022, the fifth Scream film came out. Self-titled a “requel” — a film revisiting themes from the previous films without copying the material — the movie acted as a soft reboot, not taking anything away from the films that already existed, but providing a new cast to mix in with the old one, ensuring the franchise will live on when the original power trio decided to taper off by the actors going on to different projects, without just throwing them aside as if people hadn’t followed their characters’ stories for 27 years.
The “requel” was the first film in a while that really felt like an original Scream film. Succeeding critically and commercially, the franchise demanded an immediate installation. Buckle up to learn more about each Scream film and its connection to the current film in theaters.
Scream 1 (1996):
Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is a high school senior who comes home one day to find her mother dead. A year later, two teens were found brutally killed within their home, setting Sidney’s school on edge. However, her close-knit group of friends, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan), Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard), and her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) are relatively indifferent to the news. That night, the same killer attacks Sydney in her home, leading to her being put under police protection, specifically under the care of Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Tatum’s deputy brother. All the while, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), an ambitious reporter who wants to prove herself, goes sniffing around, desperate to be the first to update on the murders.
During a horror rewatch party, Ghostface makes another appearance, killing Tatum and trying to murder Dewey and Gale, who had been working together to catch the killer. In a shocking twist never before done in a horror movie, we find that Ghostface was in Stu all along… and Billy. Gail and Sydney manage to kill Billy, while Stu is theoretically killed (never confirmed) after Sydney electrocutes him. Gail is the first to report the story and it seems like the Woodsboro murders have finally ended.
Survivors: Sydney, Randy, Gail, Dewy
(Notable) Deceased: Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore), Tatum, Billy, Stu (theoretically)
Scream 2 (1997):
Sydney and Randy are now in college, where Randy is studying film and Sydney is studying theater. Early that year, Stab, the movie about the Woodsboro murders, resulted in two students being murdered in a theater by a killer in a Ghostface mask. After this, Officer Dewey comes to Windsor’s campus to protect Sydney while a stream of reporters flock to the college, including Gail Weathers, the author of the book Stab was based on, and starts fighting with Dewey as he said she made him seem “incompetent” in her book.
After killing a sorority girl named Casey, Ghostface attacks Sydney in another’s sorority house, but she manages to get away, though her boyfriend Derek gets injured. It’s then that Gail realizes the killer is going after people with the same names as those involved in the previous Woodsboro murders, so none of them are safe.
The next day Randy is killed in Gail’s news van after receiving a call from the killer. Realizing Ghostface had to have been in the general vicinity, Gale and Dewey searched the news recordings from the campus only to get attacked themselves. Two officers attempt to drive Sydney and her roommate to a safe place but are killed in the police car.
Sydney runs to a theater where Ghostface reveals himself to be a friend named Mickey and kills Derek. Then, dragging Gail with a gun to her head, Nancy Loomis, Billy’s mother, is revealed to be the real mastermind, shooting Mickey so she can blame it all on him and the “violence promoted in horror movies.”
Cotton Weary, who had been seeking an interview with Sydney to rebuild his life after initially being convicted of her mother’s murder, shoots Nancy, saving Gail and Sydney’s lives. While Syd points to press toward Cotton for the story, Gail elects to ride with the injured Dewey in the ambulance instead of reporting as she had done in the last movie, forever changing the two’s relationship.
Survivors: Sydney, Gail, Dewey, Cotton
Deceased: Casey, Hallie, Derek, Mickey, Nancy
Scream 3 (2000):
Cotton Weary is killed in his home by someone dressed as Ghostface while Stab 3 is in production with Dewey as the film adviser. It’s there Gail, called in by new character Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey), finds him after their breakup. Ghostface kills one of Stab’s actors, causing a panic that those involved with Stab were the next victims as Cotton was in LA to make a cameo in the new film.
Meanwhile, Sydney had been living in seclusion as a women’s hotline worker when she got a call from the killer who taunts her, drawing her out of hiding and to LA. A tape of Randy is unearthed, revealing the three rules to surviving the final chapter in a horror trilogy in the event that Ghostface returned and Randy was dead. Ghostface tries to kill Sydney on the Stab movie set, leading to Syd being taken to the police station until further notice.
The Stab cast members, as well as Gale and Dewey, head over to a mansion to celebrate the director Roman’s birthday. After killing all the cast members, Ghostface lures Sydney to the mansion by capturing Gale and Dewey who are tied to chairs when she arrives.
Finding a secret room in the mansion, Ghostface reveals himself as Roman, a.k.a. Sydney’s secret brother. This is the first and only time Ghostface is one person, and it’s revealed that he orchestrated everything from the death of Syd’s mother to the Loomis’s involvement. Syd stabs him while Dewey shoots him in the head. We end the original trilogy with Dewey and Gale engaged and Sydney and Mark together as they all go off to watch a movie together.
Survivors: Sydney, Gail, Dewey, Mark
Deceased: Christine, Cotton, Angelina, Tyson, Jennifer, John Milton, Roman
Scream 4 (2011):
Set ten years later, Gale and Dewey are married in Woodsboro, where Dewey works as the sheriff while Sydney, now married to Mark, is on a book tour after writing about her experiences as a victim and rising above it. She’s staying with her cousin Jill and her aunt while in Woodsborough when a killing takes place.
Jill and her friend Kirby watch as Olivia, their friend across the street, is murdered by Ghostface. Having given up her career to stay with Dewey and in a restless state, Gale sought the help of a school’s film club to help solve the Ghostface mystery. Discovering they will be having a secret party/horror marathon of the Stab movies, Gale figures the killer will show up there and goes to stop them, only to get stabbed in the shoulder and rushed to the hospital.
Jill’s friend group, composed of Kirby, Trevor, Robbie and Charlie, is having an intimate party when Ghostface starts picking them off one by one. Sydney hid Jill while she went to lure Ghostface away, only for it to be revealed that Jill and Charlie are Ghostface. Determined to receive the same success as Sydney, Jill plans to kill her and emerge as the final girl, citing Trevor as the actual killer, while she and Charlie will appear as a new generation’s Sydney and Randy.
In a turn of events, Jill shoots Charlie, so only she remains and “kills” Sydney. After damaging herself so it appears she was also attacked, Jill waits for the police to arrive. She awakes in a hospital bed, only for Dewey to tell her that Sydney may survive. While Jill goes to kill Syd once and for all, Dewey and Gale, who’s still in the hospital, discover Jill is the killer. They rush to Sydney and help to defeat Jill, with Syd shooting her in the head.
Survivors: Sydney, Gail, Dewey, Kirby
Deceased: Marney, Jenny, Olivia, Rebecca, Charlie, Robbie, Trevor, Charlie, Jill
Scream 5 (2022):
Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) returns home after her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) is brutally attacked by a man in a Ghostface mask in her house. Having run away from home when she was eighteen, Tara still welcomed Sam and felt safe by her side until Sam admitted they did not share a father. Her father, whom she has visions of when she doesn’t take her antipsychotics, is ½ of the original Ghostface, Billy Loomis.
Seeing that she was only attacked because of her relation to Sam, Tara turns her sister away. But after Sam gets attacked in the hospital, she demands that Tara is put on a secure floor and heads off with her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) to find an expert: drunken, divorced ex-sheriff, Dewey Riley.
Hardened by the years and generally disillusioned with life, Dewey calls to warn Gail and Sydney before joining the pair at the house hosting Tara’s friends. There we find out Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) are the niece and nephew of Randy. Wes (Dylan Minnette) is the son of Scream 4 officer Judy Hicks. And Vince (Kyle Gallner) is the nephew of Stu, meaning this Ghostface is going after relatives of the previous killers.
The police gather at Judy’s house when Sam realizes Tara is in danger. Richie, Dewey, and Sam manage to pull Tara away from Ghostface, but Dewey, unwilling to leave without being sure the masked person was dead, returns only to be killed.
Our trio of leads, the three who have been there and survived through each movie, has now been reduced to two. While Sydney and Gale resolve to help the sisters, Sam is adamant that they leave Woodsboro and never return. Stopping by Amber’s house to retrieve Tara’s inhaler, we get the final bloodbath, where Ghostface picks the teens off one by one. Chad and Mindy get brutally stabbed until Sam and Tara are the only ones standing. It’s then revealed that Amber and Richie are Ghostface. Luckily, Sydney and Gale arrive just in time to help fight them off.
Ultimately, we see Chad and Mindy alive and wheeled off to ambulances, surviving their wounds just as their uncle did once. Sam and Tara say goodbye to Sydney and Gale. And everyone goes their separate ways.
Survivors: Tara, Sam, Sydney, Gale, Mindy, Chad
Deceased: Dewey, Amber, Richie, Wes, Judy