Scream is a 1996 American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The film stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore, and David Arquette. Released on December 20, 1996, Scream follows the character of Sidney Prescott (Campbell), a high school student in the fictional town of Woodsboro, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer known as Ghostface. Other main characters include Sidney's best friend Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan), Sidney's boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), film geek Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), deputy sheriff Dewey Riley (Arquette), and news reporter Gale Weathers (Cox). The film combined comedy and "whodunit" mystery with the violence of the slasher genre to satirize the clichÃ© of the horror genre popularized in films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th. The film was considered unique at the time of its release for featuring characters who were aware of real world horror films and openly discussed the clichÃ© that Scream attempted to subvert. Based partly on the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper, Scream was inspired by Williamson's passion for horror films, especially Halloween (1978). The script, originally titled Scary Movie, was bought by Dimension Films and was retitled by the Weinstein Brothers just before filming was complete. The production faced censorship issues with the Motion Picture Association of America and obstacles from locals while filming on location. The film went on to financial and critical acclaim, earning $173 million worldwide, and became the highest-grossing slasher film in the US in unadjusted dollars. It received several awards and award nominations. The soundtrack by Marco Beltrami was also acclaimed, and was cited as " of the most intriguing horror scores composed in years". It has since earned "cult status". Scream marked a change in the genre as it cast already-established and successful actors, which was considered to have helped it find a wider audience, including a significant female viewership. Scream was credited with revitalizing the horror genre in the 1990s, which was considered to be almost dead following an influx of direct-to-video titles and numerous sequels to established horror franchises of the 1970s and 1980s. These sequels drew decreasing financial and critical success, as they exploited clichÃ©s that films in the genre had become reliant upon. Scream's success spawned a series of sequels, though only the first of them achieved a level of commercial and critical success equal to the original film. In the years following the release of Scream, the film was accused of inspiring and even inducing violent crimes and murders.
High school student Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) receives a flirtatious phone call from an unknown person (voiced by Roger L. Jackson), asking her, "What's your favorite scary movie?" The situation quickly escalates out of control as the caller turns sadistic and threatens her life. He reveals that her boyfriend Steve (Kevin Patrick Walls) is being held hostage. After failing to answer a question correctly about horror films, Steve is murdered. When Casey refuses to cooperate with the caller, she is attacked and murdered by a masked killer, and her body is hung from a tree. The following day, the news media descend on the town and a police investigation begins. Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) struggles with the impending one-year anniversary of her mother's murder by Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber). While waiting at home for her friend Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan), Sidney receives a threatening phone call. After she hangs up, she is attacked by the killer. Sidney's boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) arrives and offers support, but after he drops his cell phone Sidney suspects him of making the call. She flees. Billy is arrested and Tatum takes Sidney to her house. Billy is released the next day. Suspicion has shifted to Sidney's father Neil Prescott (Lawrence Hecht), as the calls have been traced to his phone. School is suspended in the wake of the murders. After the students have left the school, Principal Himbry (Henry Winkler) is stabbed to death in his office. Billy's friend Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) throws a party to celebrate the school closure. The party is attended by Sidney, Tatum, their friend Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), and several other students. Reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) attends uninvited to cover the situation, as she expects the killer to strike. Tatum is killed during the party after having her neck crushed by a garage door. Billy arrives to speak to Sidney privately, and the two ultimately consummate their relationship. Deputy sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale investigate a nearby abandoned car. Many party attendees are drawn away after hearing news of Himbry's death; Randy, Sidney, Billy, Stu, and Gale's cameraman Kenny (W. Earl Brown) remain. After having sex, Sidney and Billy are attacked by the killer, who seemingly murders Billy. Sidney escapes the killer and seeks help from Kenny, but he too is attacked and killed. Sidney again flees. Gale and Dewey, having discovered the car belongs to Neil Prescott, return to the house. They believe Neil is the killer and has come to the party to continue his spree. Gale attempts to leave the scene in her van but drives off-road and crashes to avoid hitting Sidney. Meanwhile, Dewey is stabbed in the back while investigating in the house. Sidney takes Dewey's gun. Stu and Randy appear and accuse each other of being the killer. Sidney retreats into the house, where she finds Billy, wounded but still alive. She gives Billy the gun; he lets Randy into the house and then shoots him. Billy has feigned his injuries and is actually the killer; Stu is his accomplice. Billy and Stu discuss their plan to kill Sidney and frame her fatherâ??whom they have taken hostageâ??for their murder spree. The pair admit to being the killers of her mother, Maureen. Billy says he was motivated to seek revenge on Maureen because of an affair she was having with Billy's father, Hank (C.W. Morgan), which drove his mother away. Gale, thought dead by the killers, intervenes. Sidney takes advantage of this to turn the tables on her attackers, killing Stu. Randy is revealed to be wounded but alive. Billy attacks Sidney but she shoots him through the head, killing him. As the sun rises and police arrive, a badly-injured Dewey is taken away by ambulance and Gale makes an impromptu news report about the night's events.