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A Brief History of the Woodsboro Murders: A Scream 6 Preview

hello world!
Iain McParland
| March 8, 2023
hello world!

What’s your favourite scary movie?

I bet you did the voice, didn’t you? You know the one. Ghostface’s voice, made iconic by the wonderful Roger L. Jackson? Yeah, you did the voice.

Scream 6 will be released worldwide in March and I’m freaking PUMPED! The Scream series is so strong! There are highs and lows, but there isn’t a bad film among them. This time, our troupe of victims is being hunted in New York City, having left the town of Woodsboro behind. Ghostface is back, baby!

So, what should you know going into the next installment of the franchise? Well, let me run through a brief history of The Woodsboro Murder saga. To get the fullest account of where we are in the saga, I will spoil the identities of the various incarnations of Ghostface. 

You’ve been warned. 


Pre-Scream (1995)

Our saga begins one year before the events of the first film. The main protagonist of the first four entries of the franchise is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). Sid’s mother, Maureen, is brutally murdered and Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) is accused and convicted of her death. Surprise! The police bungled that investigation! But we’ll get to that a bit later.

Sidney dates Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), but their relationship is understandably a bit rocky since her mother’s death.

Scream – Woodsboro (1996)

Our original killers!

*Ring Ring* Hello? Hello creepy voice on the phone. Oh, you want to talk to me about horror movies? Great, I love horror. Wait, I don’t like high-stakes trivia games. Especially ones that could result in being gutted like a fish! Enter Ghostface!

In one of the all-time greatest slasher movie openings, Casey (Drew Barrymore) and her boyfriend are stabbed to death, setting off a murder spree in the small town of Woodsboro. A media circus follows.

Six bodies are dropped by Ghostface as suspicion falls upon many of the major players: Randy (Jamie Kennedy), a film nerd with unrequited love for Sid; Dewey (David Arquette), a Sheriff’s deputy; Billy, Sid’s boyfriend; Stu (Matthew Lilliard), Billy’s best friend; and even Sid’s father, perhaps undergoing a psychotic break on the anniversary of his wife’s death.

Revelations! At a party (because why not amidst a bloodbath?) at Stu’s house, the killers are revealed to be Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. Billy had killed Sid’s mother because an extramarital affair with his father caused his own mother to leave.

Sid and reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) kill Billy and Stu and put an end to the Woodsboro murders… for now.

Scream 2 – Windsor College (1998)

I think it might be time for a wash, Sid.

If I was Sidney Prescott, I don’t know if I would have been able to concentrate on finals and college applications after the events of Scream. But that’s what she does. Scream 2 picks up in Windsor College, two years after the tragedies in Woodsboro. Sid is acting in a college production of Agamemnon and has even started dating again (although trust can be an issue when your last boyfriend was a masked serial killer).

Oh, did I mention that the Woodsboro murders have been adapted into a movie, Ghostface masks are being produced to market it, and now someone has started killing again?! No? Not to mention that Cotton Weary, the man originally convicted of killing Sid’s mother, is out of jail and has the motive to want her dead!

The mystery unfolds before our eyes as, one-by-one, Sidney’s friends are murdered (no!! NOT RANDY!!!) or maimed like Deputy Dewey. The killers unmask theatrically on the stage of Sid’s play. One of those killers was Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf), out for revenge against the harlot that ended her sweet little boy’s life. Sid, Gale and Cotton end Mrs. Loomis’ (and idiot Mickey’s) murder spree.

Well, that should be the end of that!

Scream 3 – L.A. (2000)

Cotton Weary, now a hit talk show host, is snuffed at the start of Scream 3, the first of a string of murders to plague the set of Stab 3 in Hollywood. Cotton (RIP) and Dewey, consulting on the films, are right in the killer’s sights.

This is why I’m indestructible, dumbass!

Sidney is drawn out of reclusiveness when it seems that the murders have something to do with her mother’s death. Maureen! What have you been doing?! Well, apparently, she tried her hand at acting when she was young and was involved in some sketchy stuff!

Sid, with the help of her friends and potential love interest Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey), unearths the truth. Film Director, Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), has taken up the mantle of Ghostface to take revenge on Sidney. He is the illegitimate son of Maureen, and when she shunned him in 1996, he gave Billy a little push in the right direction. The right direction being stabby-stab-stab time. 

Screw you, Roman! Sidney shoots her half-brother between the eyes, putting the Woodsboro original trilogy to bed.

Scream 4 – Woodsboro (2011)

Scream 4 is probably the least important to the overall lore. I still love the film, but there’s not a lot to tell. 15 years after the original Woodsboro murders, a new Ghostface takes the mantle. The existence of the Stab film festival, Stab-a-thon, is established, and we meet Kirby (Hayden Panettiere), a student that (revealed in Scream (2022)) survives the bloodbath.

Sidney, Gale and Dewey return to where it all started to uncover the new killer, who is revealed to be Sid’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), a relative jealous of Sid’s fame. Kirby’s love interest Charlie (Rory Culkin), is unmasked as the second killer, something that may come up in Scream 6

Scream (because why not?) – Woodsboro (2022)

Hey there kiddo!

Another eleven years go by. A new Ghostface appears and torments Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega). But it leaves her alive?! There’s more at play here, obviously! 

In fact, there is so much more at play! Tara’s sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) returns to town after a lengthy absence. An absence that was caused by finding out that she’s THE DAUGHTER OF BILLY LOOMIS!! Mind. Blown. The Loomis story continues!

The new Ghostface targets the progeny and family of the original players of the Woodsboro murders and then kills Dewey! I loved that guy, so I almost wept as much as his estranged wife, Gale, when he died! Sid, now a mother of two with Kincaid, and Gale return to town to help the kids navigate the final standoff.

Sam and Tara manage to take out the new killers in the aftermath of a party in Stu Macher’s old house. Sound familiar? Sam channels her dead father as she violently stabs her serial killer boyfriend (Jack Quaid) with an umbrella until he’s not moving anymore. Daaaaaamn, Sam! That’s bordering on maniac energy! She’s borderline psychotic, after all, hallucinating Billy at times of stress.

Scream 6 – New York (2023)

What the hell is this place?

Sam’s group of survivors is going to be hunted by a new Ghostface, and I can’t wait. The only disappointment is that, for the first time in the franchise, Sidney Prescott will not be a part of it (or so we’re told). Neve Campbell was not offered enough to appear in the film, so we’re going to be Sidney-less. It’s sad, but I also think Sid deserves some time off. Her story is complete, and there’s no need for her to get involved every time a new psycho in the mask turns up. Let her live the rest of her life in peace!

But we will have a returning Kirby from Scream 4! And Gale Weathers (although I’m already suss after her loss in Scream (2022)). That’s enough for me!

My favorite parts of these films are guessing who’s behind the mask(s), and, for the most part, they keep me bamboozled. They’re wild rides of tension punctuated with humor and horror. I flipping love them, and I cannot wait for the next entry!

So, I ask again: what’s your favorite scary movie? Mine is Scream!

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