The ‘Scream’ Scene That Made Matthew Lillard and Skeet Ulrich Horror Legends

The Big Picture

  • The Billy and Stu scene at the end of Scream is the franchise’s best, showcasing the brilliant and frightening switch from normal guys to detached villains, and solidifying Matthew Lillard and Skeet Ulrich as horror legends.
  • The aftermath of the reveal is the standout moment, as Stu and Billy’s plans go awry, delivering dark humor and iconic lines — of which some were improvised.
  • Scream successfully blends comedy and horror, with memorable one-liners and comedic moments interspersed with a genuinely frightening story.


How does one define such an iconic franchise like Scream? How do you pick a singular moment or scene that reigns supreme? There are so many to choose from. There’s the obvious choice of the original film’s opening sequence featuring Drew Barrymore. And there’s the iconic movie theater opening kill of Scream 2. There are all the moments when someone explains the rules of surviving a horror movie or that nail-biting reveal of who Ghostface is this time. But there’s one scene that always sticks out when rewatching the franchise, and it all goes back to the original.

Scream 1996 Film Poster

Scream

A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a masked killer who targets her and her friends by using scary movies as part of a deadly game.

Release Date
December 20, 1996

Rating
R

Runtime
111 minutes

Writers
Kevin Williamson

Tagline
Don’t answer the phone. Don’t open the door. Don’t try to escape.


This Billy and Stu Scene in ‘Scream’ Is the Franchise’s Best

The Scream franchise is one big “whodunnit?,” but despite many a Ghostface having donned the iconic mask, no one can beat the brilliance that was the Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu (Matthew Lillard) duo. We’re first treated to Billy’s sudden switch up as he tells Sidney (Neve Campbell) “We all go a little mad sometimes” before rhyming off many other horror references that show just how in his head he is. (Maybe his saying The Exorcist got him thinking about Sid should have been a red flag?) The switch is frightening – how quickly he went from the dutiful boyfriend swooping in to save Sidney, to a detached and cunning villain. But Stu is where the shock doubles down. Perhaps you may have expected Billy. After all, never trust the love interest! But Stu? Sweet, goofy Stu? No way! Yet it makes so much sense once it’s revealed and thus the best Ghostface duo is formed.

It isn’t their reveal that earns the “best moment” spot though, it’s in the aftermath of the reveal as the crazed pair unravel their plan to Sidney that takes it. After Stu and Billy reveal to Sidney that they are planning to pin everything on her dad, kill her, and make themselves look like innocent victims, they go on with one of the more pivotal parts of their plan: Making it look believable. Stu enthusiastically says he’s ready and Billy gives that eerie smirk of his before plunging a knife deep into his side. Stu returns the favor, clearly not following Billy’s directions of “Stay to the side and don’t go too deep.” As Stu rambles on, Billy stabs him a few more times in retaliation and anger of his own pain, and thus we receive the greatest line ever uttered: “I’m feeling a little woozy here!”

Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard Have Perfect Comedic Timing in ‘Scream’

Matthew Lillard as Stu Macher and Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis in Scream
Image via Dimension Films

It doesn’t stop there, because, for the rest of the time Stu and Billy are alive and kicking, the humor doesn’t cease. There’s Stu telling Billy Sidney got away with a reference to Apollo 13, which of course leads to Stu and Billy receiving a phone call from her, taunting them with the knowledge that she’s somewhere in the house, toying with them through the phone like they did to her. Billy is proper pissed, yelling at her through the phone before storming off to find her. Meanwhile, Stu is on his last legs, bleeding out as he takes the phone. When Sidney asks him what his motive is he claims that it’s “peer pressure” and that he’s “far too sensitive.” He also asks her if she really called the police, and when she confirms that she did, he begins to cry and say “My parents are going to be so mad at me.” It’s an exchange that could come off corny if not played right, but Matthew Lillard’s comedic timing and delivery are top-notch, making it a memorable and frankly iconic moment.

All the while this is going on, Billy is cursing at inanimate objects and tearing apart couch cushions as he looks for Sidney in a heavy rage. The juxtaposition between him and Stu is what helps to make this scene so good. Lillard and Ulrich are a dream team and play off of each other so well. Proving this is the moment when Billy throws the phone and clocks Stu in the head. Stu groans and yells at his partner-in-crime, “You fucking hit me with the phone, dick!” Which, as revealed in the movie’s commentary track was actually improvised by Lillard after Ulrich accidentally nailed him in the head with the phone. It may have been an accident, but this line went on to become one of the most memorable in the film – alongside the classic “What’s your favorite scary movie?” of course.

This Scene Reminds Us That ‘Scream’ Is Both a Comedy and a Horror

Matthew Lillard as Stu in Scream holidng a gun
Image Via Miramax

Scream, while a horror movie first and foremost, is also a comedy. There are plenty of moments that indicate that throughout, but it isn’t until the film is nearing a close that those two elements blend together. Billy and Stu are absolutely crazed and have completely lost it at this point, they are so far removed from both reality and morality. But Matthew Lillard is dropping some incredible one-liners, and Skeet Ulrich is running around cursing at inanimate objects and tearing apart couch cushions as he groans in pain. It shouldn’t work so well and yet it does. Scream is a movie that never takes itself too seriously, it’s there to be entertaining and fun, and it succeeds on both counts, but it also sets out to be scary, and it balances both sides like a perfectly choreographed dance.

As I said, Scream is a horror movie first and foremost, so the comedy is sprinkled over the horrifying moments. As Stu is delivering Oscar-worthy one-liners, we’re waiting with bated breath for Sidney to find an out. While she’s on the phone with Stu, we’re desperately hoping the police arrive before Billy finds her. It’s a dangerous game of cat and mouse, but the dark and nerve-wracking scene is broken up by the comedic moments, and it’s what makes Scream such a staple piece of horror history. The franchise simply wouldn’t be the same without its humor, and yet it still manages to craft a genuinely frightening story. At the end of the day, these characters are still being hunted down, some relentlessly in the case of Sidney, Dewey (David Arquette), and Gale (Courteney Cox). There are stakes, jump scares, and an abundance of pop-culture references. It’s a unique concoction and it represents the very core of Scream and what it would go on to become — a blend of comedy and horror that never misses. And Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard played a huge role in making Scream into the iconic franchise it is today, while securing themselves as horror legends in the process.

Scream is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

WATCH ON MAX

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