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The Real Story Behind That One Character's Return In Scream

This post contains spoilers for Scream 5

With the word "meta" being so prevalent now — a sort of euphemism for self-awareness — it is important to note that "Scream" was already doing the meta-narrative in the '90s. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is one of the more iconic "Scream" girls, having fought various iterations of Ghostface in all four "Scream" movies, and now a decade after the last film was released, she's back for the fifth installment of the franchise. The new version will be the first since the death of director Wes Craven, who died after the 4th film in 2015 (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The original screenwriter, Kevin Williamson, also stepped down as writer, instead serving in the role of Executive Producer (via Entertainment Weekly). Writers Guy Busick and James Vanderbilt were brought in to  write the most recent film. And though Craven is missed, "Scream" still honors the traditions of the previous installments with great efforts. In a move that no one saw coming, one original character returns for a new adventure in thrills and gore.

Scream finally brought Billy back

Twenty-five years after the success of the first "Scream," the fifth installment brought back its most illustrious killer. In the climax of the original film, it is revealed that Sidney's boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) went on a killing spree with his friend Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard). With his true colors revealed, Billy is shot to death in the final moments. Billy's death made it certain that the character would never return, but the antagonists of the film remained in the subculture.

In a Variety interview with Ulrich and Lillard, both expressed surprise that they would still be talking about their roles over two decades later. Even more impressive is Ulrich's sarcastic answer when asked if they would be reprising their characters. "We're the leads in it," Ulrich responded. "Didn't they tell you?" Ulrich wasn't that far off as it turns out. Though Billy is not resurrected in any way, he is a startling presence in the film and important to the mythology of the series.

The Scream torch is passed from father to daughter

Though Billy does not come back from the dead, he is significant. The big reveal of the new film is that "Scream's" new character Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) is actually Billy's illegitimate daughter. Before he was killed, Billy and Sam's mother were having an affair in high school. Sam didn't learn this until her teens, which prompted her to run away. Sam returns to Woodsboro after her sister (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by Ghostface. Knowing that the original killer was her biological father, Sam is haunted by hallucinations. It isn't clear whether this is due to the anti-psychotics she is taking or just a manifestation of trauma, but Sam continually has conversations with her dead father in mirrors.

When speaking to Perri Nemiroff from Collider, Directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olphin envision this resurgence of Billy as a way to honor the legacy of "Scream" and pass the torch. "There's so much at work in that Billy father/daughter relationship that's about legacy and about the things that you inherit and how you move on from them and what sort of pieces of those legacies you take with you, which is obviously also what the movie as a whole is about, and that baton pass from one generation to another," Gillett said. 

Billy encourages her to commit violence. But in the end, it saves her life. Sam shoots the new Ghostface killer in the same spot where Billy had died.

Scream doesn't glorify Billy by bringing him back

It may seem like an odd choice for Billy's violence to be what saves Sam, but that isn't what the directors are trying to imply. This is Sam's interpretation of who her father was and not the reality. What is important about Billy's appearance is that Sam is a character overcoming the obstacles in her past.

Executive Producer Chad Villella told Collider, "... Just the ability to overcome any new challenge, and if you can overcome the fact that your father was a serial killer and still do the right thing at the end, then you need to do that. And that's kind of a message that we always want to give out into the world." 

In the end, Sam accepts that Billy is a part of her and uses that to her advantage. She is committed to being a good person and not letting Billy's legacy affect her negatively. Instead, she uses it to save her sister.