The two cows discuss the social complexity of female high school friendships and the sexual politics of teen horror in their reappraisal of these two ’96 classics. They explore how cliques can provide social insulation as well as opportunities for emotional manipulation, and consider how the “horror movie rules” encode a Puritanical ethics towards sex and drugs while also aiming to satisfy the male gaze by providing copious instances of such behavior.

Despite its meta-horror trappings, there’s a story about friendship and grief and a cautionary tale about getting in with a bad crowd simmering underneath Scream. Sidney is struggling to come to terms with the fact that her mom might not have been as innocent as she imagined, helped along in this regard by her loyal friend Tatum, and maybe, were it not for the impatient machinations of her boyfriend Billy, she would have realized on her own terms that condemning Cotton Weary (has their been a better name in the history of film?) won’t change the fact that her mom was who she was and is now gone. 

A bad apple Billy is, all the way through, poisoning the minds of everyone around him, including Sidney, whom he gaslights relentlessly, but also his partner in crime Stuart, whose pathetic motive (peer pressure) betrays a perhaps singular devotion to his rotten friend. Billy’s foil is the weirdo third wheel Randy—probably the best-hearted of the bunch—who has a thing for Sidney (maybe he recognizes the “scream queen final girl” in her all along) but for that reason will never have the kind of connection with Sidney that she shares with Tatum. Correctly identifying the killer before the halfway point, Randy’s all knowing persona (he is right that they are in a horror film and thus subject to horror tropes, even convoluted metatextual ones) makes him the Cassandra to Sidney’s Demeter. 

It’s the millennium; motives are incidental.

Randy Meeks


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