Two years into the run of Friends, Courteney Cox decided to do a little movie called Scream with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson. What started off as a nice little payday (the Friends actors weren’t rolling in it yet) turned into a multi-million dollar franchise that includes three sequels. Of course, all the films center around Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), an innocent young woman who, thanks to her mother’s voracious appetite for men, has to fight for her life as various crazies, stalkers and family members come out of the woodworks to kill her.
As all horror fans know, however, the real star of the Scream franchise is Cox’s Gale Weathers. Let us explain. Like Sidney, her involvement in the Woodboro murders in the first Scream movie has made her a prime target of relentless killers as well. While Sidney tries to hide from the media spotlight, Gale, a powerful and ambitious woman, embraces it. While her motives at times can be selfish, Gale does undergoes a transformation as she moves through the quadriliogy and ends up not only a survivor but a more mature and compassionate person as well. How can we tell? Well, it’s all in her hair.
In the first Scream movie, Gale’s hair is blunt cut, complete with whispy bangs and cheap blonde streaks (an unfortunate trend in the 90s), making her appear as harsh as her highlights as she desperately tries to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter.
In Scream 2, Gale has become a best-selling author and sports a rather sophisticated bob with muted red highlights that hint at a softer version of the ambitious career woman from the first film. Although Gale enters Sidney’s life again because she sees an opportunity for her next book, she does show a human side by getting romantically involved with Dewey (David Arquette), a survivor from the first film, and even forgoing the spotlight to accompany him to the hospital after the carnage has ceased.
As indicated by her hairstyle, Gale is going through a rough time when we meet her again in Scream 3. Gone are the harsh highlights (thank god), but in their place are the dreaded short bangs. Her relationship with Dewey is over (he now provides security for the Hollywood starlet who’s starring in an adaptation of Gale’s book) and, even though she’s a successful reporter/author, Gale is now questioning her choices. Did she sacrifice love for a career? Thankfully, another killer targets Sidney, and Gale and Dewey save both her and their relationship. We are confident that the happy ending will include Gale losing the bangs.
We see a mature and humbled Gale at the beginning of Scream 4. Her hair is long and tastefully layered, indicating that Gale has settled down somewhat but also hinting that the ambitious career woman may still be lurking beneath the surface. When a new string of murders spurs Gale to play detective once again, her hairdo makes it easy to believe that she is ready for the challenge. Stabbed by Ghostface while investigating, she solves the mystery from her hospital bed and cures her writer’s block at the same time.
Given Harvey Weinstein’s recent announcement that he wants a Scream 5 to finally end the franchise, we’ll have to wait and see what lies in store for Gale Weathers-Riley. Let’s start taking bets on her franchise-ending hairstyle now.