The Third Act Reveal
rule 6: they’ve probably already told you who the killer is, you just assumed they were bluffing or didn’t notice
I could have called this “mask off” but that means something else lately. Anyway who’s been doing the killing and how much do we care? Despite Rule 6, they put no small amount of effort into masking the killer. Scream 2 got a huge rewrite because the original script leaked and they couldn’t have people knowing the killers up front, something referenced by Scream 3. Two Ghostfaces get slashed across the arm by their partner to make them seem less suspicious, but that’s not entirely a red flag, it’s only two out of twelve, and one Ghostface slashes someone else on the arm and bolts to make them more suspicious. Also Sidney gets the same wound minimum once. More Ghostfaces go the extra mile and fake their death to seem less suspicious, because they think we haven’t figured out rules 2 & 3.
Spoilers a-coming, might want to skip to the next page if that’s an issue.
6. Scream 3
Outside of the Woodsboro trio (Sid, Dewey, Gale) there’s only one character in this movie worth investing in and he’s an on-the-level good guy, so there’s no gut-punch betrayal in this one, leaving only the secret motive. And the whole “The villain is the hero’s secret half-sibling thing” has only worked once, and that’s because Austin Powers doesn’t ask to be taken seriously. Goofy end to the goofiest movie, in the wrong way both times.
5. Scream VI
This one, if I’m being honest, lacks emotional resonance. The best reveals feature a Ghostface who’d been close to Sidney or the Carpenters, or in one case that we’d been very tragically wrong about the prime suspect. This one… okay, there’s a cool reveal because we’d absolutely thought one of them was ruled out, and their motive is a secondary reveal, but none of these are people we were super invested in, so it’s not a big gut-punch that any of them have been Ghostfacing.
Okay so that Billy Loomis, Sidney’s overly spooky boyfriend, was one of the killers is hardly a surprise. They’d never been subtle about it being a possibility. Few Ghostfaces have oozed menace in the first act like Skeet Ulrich. Literally the only thing that ruled him out was his apparent stabbing which, well, introduced Rule 3 from earlier. The real reveal was a) Ghostface was a double act, something that is now common but was then novel, and b) that poor, doomed Casey from the cold open wasn’t their first kill.
3. Scream 2
The red herrings felt more probable this time around, and the reveals actually were surprising. They were both consistent presences but not people you really thought about, and both played the reveal of their true selves very well. Plus the two red herrings had some legit consequences and story stakes to all the suspicions, where the original red herring was kept in a closet until it was time for the reveal. Okay, so, the first Ghostface to unmask hadn’t been much of a character up to this point, and that’s partially the fault of the post-leak rewrite, so it ultimately slips beneath…
2. Scream 4
Reveal #1 is pretty obvious and doesn’t matter much, but reveal #2 hits harder. This whole time we’d thought the franchise was being handed off to a new generation and nope, no, our Heir Apparent Final Girl was Ghostfacing the whole time. The only reason I didn’t guess it is because I kept thinking “No, they wouldn’t, not her.” Wrong, they would, yes her.
1. The Fifth Scream That’s Also Called Scream
The first Ghostface reveal isn’t much. They’d been pretty suspect, though their hairpin turn from friend to foe was impressively quick (this Ghostface was good at turning their apparent humanity off and on like a switch), but the second? The knife comes out and one of the most likable characters in the whole movie delivers the perfect line…
“I know. It’s a bummer it’s me.”
And man, was it. I was even spoiled on this one, TikTok told me this character was one of the killers, and it was still a punch (or knife) in the gut to reach this betrayal.
Don’t worry, Sam stabs the hell out of them for it. Like I think this Ghostface gets stabbed more than the entire cast of Scream 3.
Next page: “Just kidding I’m fine”