This article contains references to sexual harassment and assault.
Sidney Prescott may the formidable final girl of the Scream franchise, but her mother Maureen is just as important in the narrative of Scream 3… this despite her death prior to the first film’s events. Maureen Prescott’s Scream 3 backstory is a grim depiction of the pervasive problems faced by countless women: toxic masculinity, blaming and shaming women for their sexual history, sexual assault, and how these issues can affect generations.
Maureen & Sidney Prescott Pre-Scream 3
Maureen was a mysterious and heavily scrutinized figure—the subject of whispers around Woodsboro because of her sexual encounters with Mr. Loomis and several other men. Horror movie-obsessed deviant Billy Loomis unfairly placed the sole blame for his parents’ breakup on Maureen, which led to him spearheading her rape and murder.
It’s a reflection of how women are treated in real life when it comes to their sexual choices. They are often painted as the enemy with people affixing negative labels to them like “slut” and “whore.” A “kills mistress” Google search reveals tons of stories about women who were murdered in various infidelity scandals. Meanwhile, due to society’s double standards about sex, men are rarely called derogatory names or judged as heavily for their sexual histories.
Sidney is fiercely protective of her mother, even after finding out the partial truth about Maureen’s murder. She never blames her mother for this string of tragic events but her feelings about Maureen become extremely complicated. Sidney experiences unrest over her mom’s extramarital affairs since they pierce her perception of her “perfect” family life.
Going forward, Sidney develops her own issues concerning men and sex. Her first sexual encounter is marred by the horrors that happen that same night at Stu’s house. Her inability to fully trust a romantic partner leads her to doubt Derek, allowing Mickey to kill him in front of her.
These personal betrayals coupled with what her mother experienced (plus the fact that three of her friends turn out to be killers) leave her scarred and unable to trust most people. It all leads to her isolating in a remote location and working as a crisis counselor; this is where we find her at the beginning of Scream 3.
Scream 3’s Revelations
Scream 3 finally dives deeper into Maureen’s backstory after photos of her younger days are left at crime scenes. Thanks to Gale Weathers, it’s discovered that Maureen quietly left Woodsboro for two years when she was younger to pursue an acting career in Hollywood under the name Rina Reynolds. She returned home, got married, had Sidney, and apparently never spoke a word about her experience.
Hollywood producer John Milton reveals to Gale and Dewey that, during her stint in show business, Maureen/Rina was gang-raped at a party in his mansion. Milton quickly places the blame on Maureen, saying that nothing happened that she didn’t invite. He claims she refused to play by the “rules,” which are obviously set by men in positions of influence who suggest women must trade sex for career advancement.
He contradicts himself by saying that things got out of hand but he also shows no remorse for what happened to her despite later producing the Stab movies involving her death. And, as expected, he never directly implicates himself as a power player who coerced (and forced) young actresses into sex. But it was pretty much a given considering he offered the Stab 3 role of Sidney to an aspiring actress who had sex with him.
The Real-Life Connections
This sequence reflects far too many men’s complete lack of understanding of or regard for consent, rape, and a woman’s sexual autonomy. There have certainly been a number of legal cases surrounding these issues over the decades, but Scream 3 predates social media’s powerful role in pushing back against this type of behavior.
Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement provides a place of solidarity and support for women who have survived sexual assault and harassment in the workplace and beyond. #MeToo and its offshoot, Time’s Up, are also focused on holding people who perpetuate sexual violence against women accountable after years of these issues going largely unchecked.
Both movements have heavily addressed the ongoing legal proceedings against Hollywood producer and director Harvey Weinstein. He is currently facing rape charges after years of accusations by dozens of women. Sadly, a lot of social media reactions to these allegations are hauntingly similar to Milton’s viewpoints.
The connection is even more disturbing because Harvey Weinstein served as an executive producer for all of the Scream films. Scream star Skeet Ulrich, who played Billy Loomis, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, saying most people knew about Weinstein’s alleged behavior. The report also mentions the rape accusations against Weinstein from Ulrich’s Scream cast mate Rose McGowan.
In her memoir Brave, McGowan says she met with Weinstein to map out the trajectory of her career during Sundance 1997, a few months after her breakthrough Scream performance. She claims he raped her during that encounter. She didn’t press charges because didn’t want to lose her career nor be remembered only for this incident.
Maureen’s Aftermath & Roman’s Rage
Maureen Prescott is a fictional character but she’s a representation of many women like McGowan who endured similar trauma and were left feeling helpless, alone, and saddled with a litany of emotional wounds. It’s not clear when Maureen starting having consensual sexual encounters in Woodsboro but her sexual trauma likely played a factor in her decisions.
According to Attn:, rape survivors may feel like they lost control of their bodies and lives during the attack, which sometimes lead to engaging in certain behaviors like having multiple sexual partners to feel like they have gained control again. It can also be a way to convince themselves that they are no longer affected by their traumatic experience or because they feel like they have lost a part of their worth.
Maureen also had to reconcile what it meant to become pregnant from this experience, give birth, and leave that child behind. In a twist of fate, this baby grew up to be Roman Bridger, the producer of Stab 3 and the overarching antagonist of the entire franchise.
Like the Loomis Ghostface killers, Roman takes no accountability for his actions. He blames all of his murder and mayhem on Maureen with zero empathy for what his birth mother experienced. He crudely reveals Maureen’s rape to Sidney, saying Hollywood “f***ed her four ways from Sunday,” which he says made her a “slut.” Roman views himself as the only real victim in this story because Maureen/Rina left him and later rejected him when he found her in Woodsboro.
In his mind, Sidney had the mother and life that should have been his own. Roman’s inability to cope with this rejection were the catalyst that led him to film Maureen with several men, including Mr. Loomis and the framed Cotton Weary, and guide Billy towards murder.
Roman was entitled to his lifelong feelings of missing his birth mom. That said, Maureen left him in the hands of responsible authorities and he was adopted after birth, therefore legally releasing her rights to him as the birth mother. It was clear that she wanted him to have a life—just not one with her.
Maureen’s rejection of Roman really wasn’t a rejection of him as a person at all, but a reaction to the circumstances of his conception. He was a physical reminder of an identity and trauma that she wanted to leave behind. But because he didn’t get the response he envisioned in his head, he was determined to ruin the Prescott family.
That same determination spilled over to Sidney. He didn’t realize that his plan would partially backfire and turn Sidney into “the survivor,” bringing her unwanted notoriety and empathy as Maureen’s daughter. So, because the narrative he wanted didn’t match reality again, he was ready to force it into existence by killing Milton and framing Sidney. But Sidney got the upper hand and a sense of closure.
Sidney ultimately comes out of this story (and the next installment) as a survivor, but lost almost everyone she loves along the way. Meanwhile, Maureen represents many women who never got their chance to feel healed or receive justice for what happened to them.
The horror genre that has never shied away from addressing real life issues, but Scream 3‘s story is exceptional. It’s a reminder of how much progress has been made in terms of holding toxic people accountable for their actions, though that there’s still so much progress to be made.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.
Feature Image: Dimension Films