Scream (1996) Ending Explained – Who is Ghostface?

Scream Plot Summary

Scream was released in 1996 and breathed new life into the slasher genre. This meta-commentary on horror was written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The film stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Courtney Cox, and Matthew Lillard.

A year after her mother’s tragic murder, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) and her friends are tormented by a masked killer obsessed with horror movies. The killer knows their dirty secrets and seems to have Sidney as their end goal. The killer, Ghostface, could be any one of Sidney’s friends, leaving her with few to trust. The town of Woodsborro is flipped on its head as Sidney scrambles to determine Ghostface’s identity before it is too late.

The movie manages to be a serious horror flick while still being a satire of the genre. The sixth film in the franchise was just released this year, showing the series still has plenty of steam. As great as the sequels are, many claim the original is the best. This is mostly due to the mystery of who Ghostface is and the incredible twist.

Do You Like Scary Movies?

The film opens with Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) as she prepares to eat some popcorn and watch a movie. Her phone rings, but it is seemingly the wrong number. It rings again, but the voice on the other end seems more talkative this time. Casey is apprehensive at first but begins to talk with the stranger. Before too long, the voice asks one of the most iconic questions in all of horror, “Do you like scary movies?” The two talk about their favorite horror movies, but Casey soon becomes uncomfortable.

The voice on the other end asks more and more personal questions before it becomes evident they are outside Casey’s house. Casey frantically tries to leave, but she is already caught up in Ghostface’s game. She turns her outside light on to find her boyfriend, Steve, gagged and bound to a chair. Ghostface tells her that all she has to do is answer some horror trivia and Steve will be freed. She answers the first question wrong, causing Steve to be gutted while she helplessly watches.

The distraught Casey is told she must keep playing if she wants to live, and she reluctantly does so. She answers some correctly before a trick question proves to be her fatal mistake. Ghostface breaks into her house and attacks her. She fights him off well enough but ultimately loses the fight. Her parents come home just in time to hear their daughter’s dying moments on the other end of the phone that Casey still has. They go outside to find their daughter hanging from a tree, dead from repeated slashing and stab wounds.

That same night, Sidney Prescott and her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Ulrich) share a moment together last Sideny’s house. The two are seemingly unaware their classmates have been murdered.

A Killer Story

The next day, news has already spread of the gruesome murders of Casey and Steve. Sidney is especially distraught, as she is still healing from the trauma of her mother’s equally gruesome murder. She joins her boyfriend along with her friends Tatum (Rose McGowan), Stu (Matthew Lillard), and Randy (Jamie Kennedy). The group discusses the murder and how they feel the killer has only just begun. With her father out of town, Sidney decides to stay with Tuatum.

While waiting to be picked up that evening, Sidney receives a call. Believing it to be the horror-obsessed Randy, she jokingly taunts the caller. She soon realizes it isn’t her friend, but the killer. She also realizes she isn’t in the house alone. Thinking quickly on her feet, she narrowly escapes Ghostface as she runs upstairs to her room. Ghostface almost busts into her room but is seemingly scared off by something. Shortly after, Billy climbs into her window claiming he heard screaming. As he tries to comfort her, a cell phone falls out of his pocket.

She runs downstairs to find Tatum’s brother, an officer named Dewey (Arquette) at the door. He claims to have found a Ghostface costume at the front door. The cell phone and costume seem to point to Billy as the killer. Sidney accompanies Dewey to the police station as Billy is questioned. She is then confronted by Gale Weathers (Cox). Weathers is a nosy reporter who cares more about her story than the subjects involved. Gale and Sidney have a history, as Gale wrote a tell-all book about her mother’s murder, making herself famous off of Sidney’s tragedy. Gale feels the man who was found guilty of the murder of Sidney’s mother is innocent, and what happened to Casey is connected.

The Wrong Guy

Later that night, Sidney is trying to recover at Tatum’s house. The phone rings for her, and the same voice from earlier is on the other end. The voice once more taunts her, claiming she got the wrong guy. Dewey grabs the phone, but the caller hung up. The next day at school, Sidney is confronted by Billy who was let go.

Even though she received a call from Ghostface while Billy was imprisoned, she still doesn’t trust him. She locks herself in the bathroom but is cornered by Ghostface. She once again narrowly escapes with her life. The school’s principal isn’t so lucky. After dismissing school until the killer is caught, he finds Ghostface in his office who makes short work of him.

Stu suggests a huge party at his parent’s house. His reasoning is that it could help get everyone’s minds off of the killings, and they would be safer as a group. Sidney isn’t exactly in a party mood, but she reluctantly agrees.

Rules to Survive a Horror Movie

The party seems to be going off without a hitch until Billy shows up. Stu orchestrated this so he can explain himself to Sidney. Sidney and Billy there retreat upstairs to talk. Tatum realizes the part has run out of beer, so she goes into the basement to retrieve some. While there, she sees someone in a Ghostface costume. Ever since the killings, people have been wearing the costume in order to scare each other. Because of this, Tatum isn’t afraid.

Her sarcasm soon turns to terror see she realizes this is the real killer. While trying to escape through an opening in the garage door, she is crushed as Ghostface activated the door. In the house, the oblivious group sits around the TV watching Halloween. Randy takes this time to explain the rules of surviving a horror movie. The Rules include not doing drugs, remaining a virgin, and not leaving while saying “I’ll be right back” among others. The group soon learns of the principal’s death and leaves the house to see the body, leaving Randy alone.

Who is Ghostface?

Meanwhile, Gale and Dewey are sharing a nighttime walk when they find a car belonging to Sidney’s father hidden near Stu’s house. He was supposed to be at the airport, but he clearly isn’t. Scared for the kids’ lives, the duo rushes back to the house. After Sidney and Billy take their relationship all the way, she continues to question him about the night she was attacked. She seems to still think he is guilty when Ghostface appears, stabbing Billy.

Sidney runs downstairs and outside. She finds Gale’s cameraman murdered, and Gale herself seemingly killed after crashing into a tree. Sidney runs back into the house, when Randy and Stu, both bloody, ask for her help. Each man claims the other is the killer, and Sidney locks them both out.

In the house, Billy comes down the stairs, he is bloody but still alive. Billy suddenly stands upright and reveals he is the killer. The blood is simply corn starch, and he faked his death. Stu then walks in, revealing he is also the killer. Billy and Stu were partners, both wearing costumes and performing the murders. Billy reveals he is the one who killed Sidney’s mother and he looks to do the same to her.

After explaining their plan, Billy and Stu begin stabbing each other. They will both be found as survivors, while the murders are pinned on Sidney’s father. Before they can kill Sidney, Gale returns and saves her. Sidney escapes and plays her own game of cat and mouse. The game ends when Sideny drops a television on Stu’s head, seemingly killing him.

She then stabs Billy before shooting him in the head for good measure. It is then revealed that Dewey and Randy also survived. Dewey is wheeled away in an ambulance as the remaining three walks out of the house to be greeted by law enforcement. All seems well, but Sidney’s nightmare was only just beginning.

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

1 thought on “Scream (1996) Ending Explained – Who is Ghostface?”

Leave a comment