The Scream saga brought self-conscious slasher horror films that mocked the genre and presented the rules to successfully survive a horror film, explained by Randy Meeks - although these were later broken in the same films. Wes Craven’s Scream franchise began in 1996, and the first film has been credited as the one that revitalized the horror genre in the 1990s, thanks to its satire of horror clichés mixed with slasher and black comedy.
The Scream film series followed Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her battle against different murderers under the disguise of Ghostface, most of them with a personal issue against her. Sidney was supported by town deputy Dewey (David Arquette), reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and best friend/film buff Randy Meeks, who in the first three films explained the rules to successfully survive a horror film, although some characters broke these later on.
The rules in Scream are a basic set to survive any horror film: you can never have sex, you can never drink or do drugs, and never (ever, under any circumstances) say “I’ll be right back”. Ironically, Randy explains these rules during a party, with half the attendees already drunk. Still, they hold some truth: Sidney has sex with Billy, and although she’s later attacked, it’s Billy the one who ultimately dies. Tatum (Rose McGowan) goes to the basement to get more beers and is killed there, and Stu says “I’ll be right back” right after Randy explains the rules, and is later killed (albeit in self-defense) by Sidney. In Scream 2, the rules for a horror sequel are: the body count is always bigger, the death scenes are more elaborate (“more blood, more gore”), and the third rule is not explained in the final cut, although it was revealed in the teaser trailer to be “never, ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead”.
The body count in Scream 2 was bigger than in the first film (10, against Scream’s seven), and the deaths were bloodier – sadly, Randy’s death was one of them, as he was killed in Gale’s broadcast van. The third rule is a reference to Randy’s line at the end of Scream, right before Billy jumped back for one last scare. The same happens in Scream 2 when Mickey, believed to be dead, jumps back and is shot multiple times by Sidney and Gale, with Sidney shooting Mrs. Loomis’ body on the head “just in case”. Randy delivered the rules in Scream 3 via tape, and they are different from the sequel rules as these are for horror trilogies: the killer is superhuman, anyone (including the main character) can die, and “the past will come back to bite you”.
Roman, the killer, wasn’t superhuman but he was the first one to wear a bulletproof vest, and even though he was stabbed by Sidney, he jumped back to try to kill her again. Prior to that, Sidney was shot by him and presumed dead, but she was wearing a bulletproof vest as well. Finally, the past did come back to haunt Sidney, as Roman turned out to be her half-brother and the mastermind behind all the killings: he showed Billy the footage of his father and Sidney’s mother, motivating him to kill her. Randy Meeks was so much more than Sidney’s best friend and film expert, as he provided all the hints for the fate of the characters, and was key in the Scream series' satire of horror clichés.