Scream

Scream is a 90s slasher film. It’s special because it knows exactly what it is and makes fun of its own genre. There’s something fun about a show and its characters being aware of their own circumstances and openly mocking it. It’s part of a franchise with four movies under its belt and a 5th one due to release in the coming year. Proving that the meta-formula seems to be a success.

This article will contain spoilers for Scream (1996).

It plays with the audience’s expectations right off the bat by killing off who everyone assumes is the main character in the first five minutes. That sets the stage. It doesn’t follow the typical slasher film’s rules, rules that Randy (the horror movie buff) lists later in the film.

Billy Loomis is one of the most memorable killers of the franchise. He’s part of a duo, but Billy stands out and is more of an instigator than Stu. He’s the mastermind; Stu is just a tool Billy uses for his own benefit. He’s also a fixture in Instagram edits. Despite his murderous inclinations, he’s attractive. You almost want to believe the narrative he crafts for Sidney. You want him to be innocent, despite several clues and red flags throughout the movie. I don’t think you’re ever not supposed to think he’s guilty. From his introduction, they give you enough reason to doubt him.

Unlike Stu, Billy is good at hiding his crazy or at least better. Contrary to most slasher movie killers, he’s not an outcast, recluse, or has any of the typical hallmarks. Except for mommy issues and perhaps a superiority complex. He doesn’t live in a disturbing cabin in the woods. Billy hasn’t recently escaped an insane asylum. He talks (most of them don’t). He’s charming even. Billy doesn’t seem like a monster.

That’s how he effectively fools people. He could be your neighbor, school friend, or boyfriend. He has friends, is well-liked, and has a girlfriend. When Sidney accuses him of being the killer, he puts up a good defense and quells her fears. He wins her over and gets her to drop her defenses with him. Considering how paranoid and guarded she is with herself, because of past trauma involving her mother, how he gets past her walls shows how good he is at playing people.

His cockiness at the end leads to his downfall. Before that, it was all going along with his revenge scheme. It was a fairly solid plan and his fake death makes you rule him out as a suspect. He fools Sidney and the audience. It’s the type of twist that’s hard to replicate and why I think he leaves such a significant mark on the franchise.

He’s the killer you don’t want. The one that isn’t obvious, breaking a lot of stereotypes and preconceived notions about them. His motives are unbelievably simple; he doesn’t even seem to need one. Billy’s not crazy, even though you kind of wish he was. One could make arguments to the contrary, but I think he knew what he was doing was wrong. He just didn’t care. A murder who kills because he feels slighted and thinks it’s justified. He’s definitely sadistic, wanting both Sidney and her mother to pay for what he views as an unforgivable crime. He wants to torment her. Billy relishes in her pain and finds a sick amusement in toying and scaring her. He doesn’t care who gets caught in the crosshairs. He has a deathly apathy towards everyone.

I think it’s hilarious that part of his plan involves him and Stu giving each other stab wounds and posing as victims. Not an altogether fantastic idea. He really didn’t think it through. It could have worked, but helps Sidney take them down instead. There’s something to be said for hubris. Billy thought he was cleverer than he ended up being.

In the end, Sidney didn’t even need to outsmart him. He was bleeding out and desperate, yet it’s still incredibly satisfying when she gains the upper hand and beats him. Billy could have been anything, but he chose to be a killer and he pays in kind for it. This puts him near the top of characters I love to hate. Which I guess means he has the intended effect.

Like a bad aftertaste, you can’t really forget him. Even though you want to. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Skye Hoffert is a dreamer, who always had her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. She has spent more time in Narnia and Middle Earth than in reality. She wastes her days writing, painting, and procrastinating. She blogs at inkcalamities.blogspot.com.

2 thoughts on “Scream

Add yours

  1. I only saw this movie for the first time a few weeks ago, but I *love* it. I love that you point out that Billy’s got red flags all over him throughout the whole thing – I think it makes the villain reveal so much more interesting! Because then his red flags aren’t a red herring, but a legitimate indication that even if he hadn’t been the villain, you should NOT trust this guy. Gosh, I could write about Scream forever – its mextatexuality is SO interesting. Such a good movie (and great article)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so good right! One of those gems. They really do give you trust issues with him. I agree I like it when they set it up well, rather than just go for shock value.
      Exactly, he’s not a good guy either way. And the way he treats Sidney showcases that.
      Same! There’s so much to be said for it. I agree, it really makes it stand out.
      Thanks so much!

      Like

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