Despite having a Ghostface origin story and a bloody legacy connected to her life, Maureen Prescott is hardly present in the Scream franchise.
In Scream, audiences learn of Maureen Prescott’s murder before her life, even though her daughter, Sidney Prescott, becomes the last girl in power in the series. Indirectly causing Billy and Stu’s bloody tantrum in Scream and the carnage that followed in Scream 2 and Scream 3, the franchise portrays Maureen as a cheating wife, failed actor, and Woodsboro “whore” who – is Billy and Stu’s words – had death come to her. . While franchise writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven point out that it was the city that mistakenly saw Maureen in this way, she was still the serial scapegoat that prostitutes humiliated.
However, there is an important opportunity in Scream 3 to show a side of Maureen’s story that will deepen viewers’ understanding of her character. Centering the third film in the center of Hollywood gives the plot a chance to explain what happened in Maureen’s two-year period as actor Rina Reynolds. Rather, it was exposition food for his son’s bloodlust and wrath.
Viewers first learn about Maureen’s death early in Scream when ambitious Gale Weathers compares Casey’s recent bloodbath to Maureen’s murder a year ago. From there, the film directly or indirectly refers to Maureen’s murder. It even goes so far as to show how the city — via Heathers — channeled cheerleaders — gossip about Sidney, calling her a “slut, just like her mother.” While Sidney is still processing the brutal murder of his mother and the new trauma of his classmates being “sliced and diced” like his mother, even his best friend Tatum Riley judgmentally reminds him that his mother often sleeps. At the end of the film, Stu and Billy remind Sidney about his mother’s affair again. They maniacally explain that this is why they need to kill Maureen — for causing the family to fall apart because of her actions.
The people in this business — specifically Billy’s father, Hank Loomis — were not targeted by Ghostface. Stu and Billy’s immoral rant only applies to Maureen, not the also-cheat Hank Loomis, who may still be alive in the franchise. However, Scream 3 complicates the misogynistic MO Stu and Billy with an interesting reveal from Maureen’s son Roman. The film shocks fans by explaining that Roman planted the seed in the skulls of Billy and Stu who hate women to kill Maureen.
While Scream 3 had a lot of flaws – mainly due to its inability to show as many bloody scenes as it was filmed during the 1999 Columbine High School massacre – revealing that Maureen had a very complicated and secretive life in Hollywood was certainly not one of them. While it’s still very disturbing to have a franchise centered on the search for a rejected son to destroy his mother, it opens up the realm of critically showing him as some sort of villain. Scream 3 fails to look like Norman Bates’ face in the mirror for a film series that likes to break down horror tropes. Perhaps the weirdest part of Roman’s storyline is when Sidney holds his hand as he dies in his arms — instead of finding another umbrella to stab Roman’s heart, a la Billy Loomis, for causing all his friends and mother to die.
However, there is an overlooked part about Roman’s quest for revenge that could take over the plot of the film completely. In Scream 3, audiences tragically learn that Maureen was gang-raped at one of film producer Stab John Milton’s parties, hosted by Sunrise Studios — the same studio where Hank Loomis worked. She finds out she is pregnant after the rape and hands her son Roman up for adoption. These events caused Maureen to leave her burgeoning Hollywood career and return to Woodsboro, where her marriage was unhappy.
Viewers learn about Maureen’s rape through the perspective of (one of) Maureen’s rapists, John Milton. “This is not a city for innocence,” says Milton, which makes Roman’s later murders so sweet and poignant. For a moment, it seemed like someone was killing for Maureen, not for her. The only time the audience heard Maureen’s voice was at Milton’s death. Instead of inspiring Billy and Stu to kill his mother, Roman could have helmed a #MeToo-inspired film filled with Hollywood executives confronting Roman’s wrath.
Instead, Scream 3 sees Roman use Maureen as a literal backer. He tells Sidney that he found their mother, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her or the past
You’re a traumatized Hollywood. Jealous that Sidney is having time with their mother, he tries to use a body support bag and Maureen’s voice recording to make Sid think he’s lost his mind and/or is being haunted by his mother. None of that is true, and while Maureen’s ghost remains in every film of the franchise, she hasn’t appeared on screen yet. Of all the times a well-placed flashback has worked, it would be Scream 3. If Maureen had to die, she at least earned the right to convey her perspective — not John Milton, a man who made money off of Maureen’s death legacy by the Stab franchise.
It’s important to note that Scream 3 was produced by Hollywood’s notorious sex offender, Harvey Weinstein. This may limit how controversial the B-plot line of films about sexual predators was in 2000 – the pinnacle of Weinstein’s power at the time. The fact that this plot is approved in the film is altogether interesting, to say the least. However, maybe the joke is still on Maureen. Despite the film portraying Maureen as a misunderstood victim, and not shying away from how Hollywood profited from her story, Scream 3 benefits from a rape narrative that never puts its survivors at the center of the story. In the four Screams films, even Billy’s mother gets a shining role as a serial killer who takes revenge and does not bend before Sid’s mother – the core of the franchise – has dialogue.