Home » Look Who’s Stabbing: At Which Point In Scream Was Ghostface Billy or Stu?

Look Who’s Stabbing: At Which Point In Scream Was Ghostface Billy or Stu?

scream-cover-image

To mark the twentieth anniversary of Wes Craven’s game-changing slasher, Scream, Wicked Horror presents a week of specially-themed content celebrating the movie’s enduring appeal. In this installment, Ryan C. Bradley offers his opinion on who was wearing the Ghostface mask for which kill – and the results may surprise you.

For years, slashers have relied on the trope of the unkillable monster. Michael Myers is shot multiple times at the end of Halloween only to disappear when the camera turns away from him, before coming back for Halloween II. Jason dies at the end of pretty much every Friday the 13th movie only to be inexplicably back (or explicably resurrected) for the next one.

And that’s saying nothing about the damage either of them supposedly took as they pursued hapless teenagers. These two were punched, kicked, head-butted, stabbed, shot, electrocuted, defenestrated, but never slowed down. Early slashers trained audiences to accept that the killer could fall down the stairs and be back to full health – though typically never going faster than a walk – in the very next scene.

Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson took full advantage of those expectations with one of the best twists in movie history: the second killer. It’s genius. After decades of watching Leatherface, Jason, Michael, et al tearing brain-dead teenagers apart, audiences were primed to assume that it’s always the one guy behind the mask. Adding a second killer gave a realistic explanation for the amount of punishment the guy takes, and how he seems to often be in two places at once.

Ghostface can be in two places at once, because Ghostface is two people: Billy and Stu. It’s a brilliant take on an all-too-familiar trope. But who’s the killer in each scene? I tried to figure it out once and for all:

Who killed Drew Barrymore?
scream-barrymore

Scream starts with another great subversion of audience expectations; Drew Barrymore, who was featured prominently on the poster and in many of the movie’s promotional appearances, dies at the end of the opening sequence. Because she’s a huge name and featured so heavily in the promotion, it was a considerable shock to audiences. As for who actually killed her, Billy is my best guess. While Billy does appear at Sidney’s window later that same night, it is after the murder has taken place. Meaning, he could easily have found time to do both. Tatum offers the alibi that Stu was with her that night without being prompted, when the main cast discusses the murder in school the following day. Stu could technically have done both as well, but the fact that Billy is the leader adds more credence to the idea it was him. Of course the leader would make the first kill, setting the whole thing off.

Who’s Ghostface during the chase at the Prescott house?
Neve Campbell in Scream
We next meet Ghostface at the Prescotts’. Sidney’s fallen asleep in front of the TV and wakes up to the phone ringing. Scream riffs on another familiar slasher trope here: the killer is in the house. This time, the movie subverts it with the killer pretending not to be inside the house, but he subsequently pops out of the closet and tries to chase Sidney down. I’m almost sure this one was Stu. Billy couldn’t have got up to the window so quickly, and then once the police had arrested him, they wouldn’t search the house immediately because they figured they’d already caught the killer, giving Stu time to escape. It would also explain how Stu knew Billy had been arrested, which he mentions in the hallway scene without really having another way of knowing.

Who calls Sidney while Billy is in jail?
Neve Campbell and Rose Mc Gowan in Scream
With Billy in jail, the killer calls Sidney to let her know that she got the wrong guy. Obviously, in this case, Ghostface is Stu. Duh. Sidney puts forth the idea that it would be clever if Billy had called from jail later on, but that doesn’t make sense given arrest procedures. Police would have searched him and found the voice modulator, and personally I choose not to think about where Billy could’ve possibly kept it in order to smuggle it in.

Who chases Sidney in the school bathrooms?
Neve Campbell in Scream school
Sidney is having a miserable time in an lecture that is conveniently addressing the same themes that Scream deals with, and steps out to use the restroom. What follows is hands down one of the best, and scariest, scenes in horror history. Sidney is alone in the bathroom, depressed and anxious – or so she thinks. She looks under the stalls after two obnoxious women leave and sees that she’s alone. From behind her the audience sees two feet descend in a stall located between her and the exit. The killer’s robe drops next and we wait on tenterhooks for him to strike. Scary as hell, but also extremely incidental. I think Ghostface here is Stu, but there’s no real evidence. It must be him because Sidney is fighting with Billy in the hall shortly beforehand, but the next scene transitions to a classroom, which Sid leaves to use the bathroom. Because we don’t know how much time has passed between their hallway fight and the class, Billy’s alibi is gone. There’s no evidence as to where he is. We also have no idea how the killer knows that Sidney will use that bathroom—a school that size would surely have more than one—or how long he’s been waiting in there for her. I like to imagine Stu spending hours crouched on top of the toilet, hoping she’ll come in soon. The best I came up with is it would be Stu because of how excited he was that school got cancelled and because Billy strikes me as the kind of psycho who would have Stu do the things in the highly crowded area (where there’s a higher probability of getting caught).

Who Killed Principal Arthur Himbry?
Principal in Scream
After balling out two students, the Principal gets stabbed to death. This must be Billy, because Stu leaves with the girls. The school’s been cleared out, so the environment is much safer for him, and, again, we saw Stu leave with Sidney and Tatum.

Who’s Ghostface when he’s stalking in the trees?
Ghostface hiding in bushes
Next time we see Ghostface, he is stalking Sidney and Tatum from the safety of some bushes. He does nothing but dart in and quickly back out of view,  keeping the audience on high alert as, again, we see something the characters do not. This is another hard one, because we don’t know the exact whereabouts of Stu or Billy at this precise moment. If Billy killed the principal, he wouldn’t have time to get there, so it must be Stu.

Who’s the Ghostface reflected in the glass at the grocery store?
Ghostface reflection in store Scream
I’ve got even less to figure this one out. If you blinked you’d miss the shot, but Ghostface is visible in the reflection of the glass of the door as Sidney and Tatum shop for party supplies. I only noticed it on my tenth or so viewing, which is quite shocking. Are we expected to believe that no one else in the grocery store noticed a man of easily over six feet wearing the same outfit as the person murdering their teens? The store is jam-packed with people trying to stock up for the curfew. Someone would’ve seen him, and what does it add to movie? Not much. A silly scare I likely wouldn’t have noticed without repeat viewings. I’m guessing it’s Billy because Stu’s probably at home getting ready for the party. Although, that doesn’t really fit with Stu’s character. There’s not enough evidence and I’d honestly rather pretend it didn’t happen than think about it too hard.

Who kills Tatum?
Rose Mc Gowan in Scream
Ye olde garage door decapitation scene. This was a fun sequence, and one that was destined to go down in horror history. Tatum goes for beer in the garage and confronts Ghostface. She thinks it’s Stu, pulling one of his pranks, and starts flirting with him, only to realize that the man in front of her is really the killer. Who still happens to be Stu, as far as I’m concerned. Stu sends her out there, so he knows she’s there and has time to do it. Getting away at a party, particularly one at his own house, would be extremely easy to do. Further bolstering my case is the way the killer acts with Tatum. The man behind the mask is playful, which speaks more to Stu’s characters than Billy’s. Then there’s that goofy nod when the garage door opener finishes killing her. That’s something I really don’t think Billy would do. The best evidence though, is that after the killer goes back into the house through the garage, Billy comes to the front door in the very next scene.

Who fake stabs Billy?
Billy Loomis in Scream stab
I’m going to have go with Stu. Final answer. Stu’s also clearly the one chasing Sidney up until she jumps down onto the boat. He gets in front of her in the hallway scene because he grew up in that huge house and knows his way around. And besides, Billy was still “dead” at that point, so.

Who stands over Randy then for-real stabs the camera guy?
Neve Campbell and camera guy in Scream
It must be Billy because Stu knows that Sidney is still alive. The killers reacts to seeing her alive by abandoning Randy, because he thinks she’s already dead. He’s also clever, noticing the camera, which Stu would’ve seen during the movies, if he was going to see it, and using the tape delay to trick the camera guy into opening the door. That all sounds like the more clever killer, Billy.

Who do you think the killer is in each scene? Let me know whether you agree or disagree in the comments below.

 

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Written by Ryan C. Bradley
Ryan C. Bradley has published work in The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, Dark Moon Digest, The Literary Hatchet, and many other venues. He won the 2015 JP Reads flash fiction contest. You can learn more about him at: ryancbradleyblog.wordpress.com.
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