The Scream Movies: The Villains Behind Every Ghostface So Far

Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell in Scream
(Image credit: Dimension Films)

The Scream movies have remained a fan-favorite horror franchise over nearly 30 years. What makes Scream and its villain, Ghostface, particularly unique from other slasher franchises is it is someone different every time. Plus, they are uniquely guided by the awareness of the best horror movies of all time. As we start our theories for Scream VI, let’s take a look at every Ghostface so far. 

There have been five Scream movies and a TV show, but since the series does not share a continuity with the film franchise, we’ll keep those reveals close to the vest. Otherwise, major SPOILERS are ahead for everything Scream. This article is meant to be a refresher for the fans out there, not a spoilery killjoy. 

Scream VI is about to take the franchise somewhere we’ve never seen Ghostface before: New York City. The killer most famously stalks the town of Woodsboro, but this time the story will follow Melissa Barerra and Jenna Ortega’s Carpenter sisters following their escape in the previous film. The Scream VI trailer teases the reemergence of Ghostface, doing things like using a shotgun at a bodega. Once again we’re curious about whether the killer could be someone from the original Scream cast or one of the fresh faces from the cast. Before we can truly go into murder-mystery mode for one of 2023’s highly-anticipated upcoming horror movies, let’s go back down memory lane regarding who has been behind the mask prior. 

Matthew Lillard and Skeet Ulrich in Scream 1996

(Image credit: Dimension Films)

Scream (1996)

First, to the one that started it all. Wes Craven’s Scream remains one of the most iconic horror stories of all time, and even having seen it many times, while I’m immersed in the film, I tend to forget the big whodunnit reveal. It all starts with a terrifying phone call between Drew Barrymore’s Casey Becker as she prepares some Jiffy Pop, and goes on a murderous rampage throughout Woodsboro. It all comes down to Sidney Prescott, who learns that her very own boyfriend has been Ghostface all along. Traumatizing, am I right?  

Yes, Skeet Ulrich played Ghostface in the first Scream as Billy Loomis, a bad-boy prototype many of us would surely crush on if we walked the halls of Woodsboro High. The motive, even though Billy doesn’t like to discuss it, has to do with Sidney’s mother, who was secretly in a relationship with Billy’s father, Hank, before her death. Billy becomes enraged by the discovery and to get back at her, he decides to go on a killing spree and frame Sidney’s father. His accomplice for the murders was his friend Stu, played by Matthew Lillard, who is peer pressured into the whole thing. Sidney is able to escape death and kill them both with Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers and Jamie Kennedy’s Randy helping her.  

Timothy Olyphant as Mickey in Scream 2

(Image credit: Dimension Films)

Scream 2 (1997)

The series went on to continue just one year later with 1997’s Scream 2, when Sidney Prescott becomes haunted by a copycat Ghostface who follows her to college. The new Ghostface is revealed to very much be related to the first movie, because we learn it is none other than the mother of her former dead boyfriend (the original Ghostface), Mrs. Loomis. Mrs. Loomis hires Timothy Olyphant’s Mickey Altieri to conduct another murderous spree to avenge her late son. 

It’s a shame, because once again it’s revealed that Ghostface is someone close to Sidney. The new college student was becoming close friends with Mickey up until this horror movie ordeal. We learn that Mickey is actually a psychopath that Mrs. Loomis met online and agreed to pay his tuition to murder for her. And, funny enough, Mickey actually wanted to get caught, so he could go down in history to become famous. Sidney, Gale, and Mrs. Loomis aid in his killing before Mrs. Loomis also dies, by way of Sidney and Liev Schreiber’s Cotton. 

Scott Foley as Ghostface in Scream 3

(Image credit: Dimension Films)

Scream 3 (2000) 

The third Scream movie takes place three years after Scream 2 and sees Sidney going into her own isolation after the two prior incidents. When the cast of a horror movie called Stab 3 begins seeing real murders by Ghostface, Sidney ventures out to Hollywood, along with Gale, Dewey, and Cotton, who is now the host of a talk show in LA. This time around, it’s revealed that the one behind the mask is Roman Bridger, who is the unknown son of Sidney's mother, Maureen Prescott, and her half brother.

As we learn, Maureen was serially raped at a party and she became pregnant with Roman, who was given up for adoption. Apparently, years prior, Roman had found out who his real mother was and found her in Woodsboro only to have a door slammed in his face. We learn that Roman was the person who filmed Maureen and her later affairs, leading to the creation of Ghostface in the first Scream, when he got to Billy, showed him video of his dad and Maureen, and convinced him to become the killer. Roman then went off to become the director of Stab 3. Sidney and Dewey kill Roman at the end of Scream 3

Emma Roberts as Jill Roberts in Scream 4

(Image credit: Dimension Films)

Scream 4 (2011) 

Over a decade after Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s trilogy was apparently over, they teamed back up for Scream 4. The movie goes back to Woodsboro on the 15th anniversary of the original massacre by Ghostface (Billy), when two high school students are murdered by another copycat. The next day, Sidney is conveniently back in town to promote a self-help book, and becomes framed for the murders. As we learn later in the film, her estranged cousin, Jill Roberts, played by Emma Roberts, was the next Ghostface, after all. 

Jill was apparently jealous of all the attention Sidney received for being targeted by Ghostface. She’s also a big fan of horror movies and uses her secret boyfriend, Rory Culkin’s Charlie, to help her along until she kills him. Jill is outsmarted by Sidney and Gale, as Neve Campbell lets out the iconic line, “you forgot the first rule of remakes Jill – don’t fuck with the original.” 

Amber and Richie in Scream 2022

(Image credit: Paramount)

Scream (2022) 

The Scream movies had another long stretch, mostly due to the fact that the director of all of them thus far, Wes Craven, died in 2015. The fifth Scream movie from Ready or Not filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett was not only a big box office hit, but it also won over OG fans of Scream as well. The movie takes place in Woodsboro twenty-five years after the original Ghostface killing spree (aka the original Scream) starting with Jenna Ortega’s Tara Carpenter being attacked by the masked killer and left hospitalized and her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) going to Woodsboro with her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid) to visit Tara. Sam is revealed to be the illegitimate daughter of Billy Loomis, who originated Ghostface. 

After a series of murders, including the shocking death of David Arquette’s Dewey, leading Sidney and Gale to get involved, in the final act we learn Ghostface is once again a pair. One of them is Sam’s boyfriend Richie and the other is Mikey Madison’s Amber, Tara’s best friend. They are fans of the Stab movies who met online and shared a disappointment for the trajectory for the franchise. In order to revive their beloved franchise, they decided to embark on a killing spree as Ghostface and frame Sam as the killer along with bringing back the original cast into the fold with Dewey’s death. 

Gale, Sidney and Tara take care of Amber while Sam ends up killing her boyfriend by stabbing him and shooting him repeatedly. With Neve Campbell not returning for Scream VI due to pay discrepancies, Sam and Tara are the new final girls of the Scream franchise who will once again face Ghostface in the upcoming sequel. 

Such a great lineup of films! The next Ghostface could be a host of people from the massive cast involved, but now we’re armed with Sidney, Tara and Sam’s final girl knowledge, as we get ready for the sixth Scream movie. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.