Scream is a 1996 horror film directed by Wes Craven from a screenplay by Kevin Williamson, and the first of the Scream series. Filmed mostly in Santa Rosa, California, the film tells the story of the fictional town Woodsboro, CA being terrorized by a masked killer who enjoys tormenting his victims with phone calls and movie references. The killer's main target is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a teenage girl whose mother Maureen fell victim to a brutal murder one year earlier. The film takes on a who done it mystery, with many of her friends and townspeople being fellow targets and suspects.
Scream revitalized the slasher film genre in the mid-1990s, similar to the impact Halloween (1978) had on late 1970s film, by using a standard concept with a tongue-in-cheek approach that combined straightforward scares with dialogue that satirized slasher film conventions.
Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) receives a phonecall from a man who starts a friendly conversation until he threatens Casey. The man tells Casey to turn on the patio lights, revealing her boyfriend Steve (Kevin Patrick Walls) tied to a chair. He quizzes Casey on horror movies and she gets a question wrong. When Casey turns on the patio lights again Steve has been gutted. The man gives Casey a bonus round; when she refuses to answer the question a chair smashes through the door. Casey tries to escape and fight of the killer but eventually is caught and stabbed. In her last and dying movement Casey takes of the mask to reveal who the killer is, however the camera pans out just before doing so and Casey is gutted.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is attempting to cope with the anniversary of her mother's rape and murder. The following night she is attacked by the same person who killed Casey and Steve .
Reacting to circumstantial evidence, Sidney accuses her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) of being the attacker. She stays with her friend dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Dewey's sister, Tatum (Rose Mcgowan). While there, she receives a phone call from her attacker. He says Billy Loomis is not the attacker and she will find out who is soon.
Sidney is forced to deal with the scandalization of her attack by tabloid television newswoman Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox)Gale is responsible for a book revealing the affair between Sidney's mother and her convicted killer, Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber). School is canceled as a precautionary measure, leaving the building abandoned. Despite the closing, the principal (Henry Winkler) is killed while in school. Unaware of the principal's fate, Tatum's boyfriend Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) throws a party. When Sidney and Tatum arrive at Stu's house they see Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), a horror movie fanatic. Billy also shows up; he and Sidney go to Stu's parents' room. Tatum is attacked and killed in the garage.
Gale, sensing the potential for a scoop, hides a video camera inside the house. She then begins searching outside for anything suspicious with Dewey's help. The party-goers receive word of the principal's death and most of them head to the school.
While Sidney and Billy are upstairs the killer appears and stabs Billy. Sidney escapes out the window where she sees Tatum's corpse. Randy, unaware of what's going on and watching Halloween, avoids death when the killer hears Sidney's screams. Gale's cameraman Kenny (W. Earl Brown) lets a terrified Sidney inside her news van. Kenny and Sidney see the killer nearly attack Randy on the video feed, which has a thirty second delay. Kenny steps outside the van and the killer slashes his throat.
Sidney escapes the van to find Dewey stepping out of the house, but he falls down to reveal a knife in his back. Sidney runs to his car to escape but the keys aren't there; the killer shows her the keys and pursues her. Sidney runs back to the house where she finds Randy and Stu, who seem to be the only remaining suspects. When they both accuse each other of being the killer, Sidney does not know who to trust and slams the door in their faces.
Billy falls down the stairs, seriously injured. He asks for the gun that Sidney found and she gives it to him. Billy opens the door, letting Randy into the house. Randy claims that Stu has gone mad. Billy gives an evil smile to Randy and says, "We all go a little mad sometimes", then shoots Randy, who falls to the floor. Billy tells Sidney the blood on his chest is corn syrup. Sidney turns and finds Stu, who unveils a voice-changing box.
Billy and Stu committed the murders to get revenge on Sidney's mother. Sidney's mother had an affair with Billy's father (C. W. Morgan), which ended Billy's parents' marriage. Billy and Stu murdered Sidney's mother, not Cotton Weary, who was convicted based on Sidney's testimony. Stu and Billy have abducted Sidney's father and used his cellphone. They plan to murder Sidney and frame her father by shooting him in the head to make it seem he committed suicide. Stu and Billy stab each other in non-vital places so it appears they're the only surviving victims of Sidney's father's rampage. Billy stabs Stu too deeply and he begins bleeding profusely. Gale arrives and tries to shoot Billy, but the safety is on and he knocks her out. Billy is about to kill Gale when Stu notices Sidney is gone. Sidney pretends to call the house in the voice of the killer, but Billy knows it's her. She tells Billy and Stu that she called the police and they're on their way. Billy tells Stu to stay on the phone with Sidney while he finds her. Sidney stabs Billy with an umbrella and he collapses. Stu tries to kill Sidney but she pushes a television onto his head, killing him. Randy is shown to be alive, but Billy, still alive, attacks him. He then attacks Sidney and is about to stab her when Gale shoots him. Randy warns Sidney that the killer always "comes back to life" for one last scare. Billy springs to life and Sidney shoots him in the head, killing him.
Dewey is later shown being carried away on a stretcher, alive and conscious. Gale makes an impromptu report on the events of the previous night as the authorities arrive.