When Scream came out in December of 1996, it almost single-handedly revitalized the horror genre. An iconic opening scene, self-referential humor, and a great twist cemented Scream as a modern horror classic. The reveal of there being two killers was incredibly original at the time and a satisfying twist to cap off the movie’s who-done-it mystery.
However, the ending we got was almost completely different. Kevin Williamson, who wrote the screenplay for Scream, was originally torn on the motive for his two antagonists.
As we know, Billy reveals to Sidney that he started his killing rampage because of Sidney’s mother. Sidney’s mother had an affair with Billy’s dad, which caused his mom to abandon their family. Stu almost seems oblivious to this as he looks at Billy with a puzzled look during his confession. Stu later claims “peer pressure” to be his motive when confronted by Sidney later in the movie.
Although originally thinking he had to have one, Kevin Williamson actually toyed with the idea of there being no motive. Billy was going to say his line, “It’s a lot scarier when there’s no motive,” and that would be that. Williamson thought that it was potentially scarier for the killers not to have a reason for their horrific crimes.
Torn between motive and no motive, Williamson decided to go with a combination of both. Billy would have his motivation be the affair that broke his family apart, and Stu would be more or less along for the ride. Williamson ultimately felt it was necessary that at least one of the killers had a motive as to not cheat the audience.
This brings up an interesting dynamic in regards to the Scream sequels. If Williamson would have gone with no motive, then the Scream sequels would also be drastically different. Perhaps the sequels would have been used to provide the backstory that the original did not.
Do you think Williamson was right to keep the script the way he did? Do you think it would have been scarier if both Billy and Stu had no motive? Let us know in the comments below.