Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for Sick, as well as other, older films that you should have seen by now.Scream (1996) opens with a game of life or death. Ghostface asks the identity of the killer in Friday the 13th (1980) and Casey (Drew Barrymore) answers, her fear turning into anger when the killer taunts the girl. “Listen, it was Jason! I saw that movie twenty goddamn times!” Ghostface isn’t persuaded. “Then you should know that Jason's mother, Mrs. Voorhees, was the original killer. Jason didn't show up until the sequel!” Screenwriter Kevin Williamson, slipping in this trick question, does two things at once. He warns about Ghostface, that should this killer come calling, you better know your stuff. And it reveals his love for Camp Crystal Lake, especially the carnage by the hand of Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer). Friday the 13th didn’t only set a template for other slasher movies, it offered up the “killer parent” archetype. The grief of losing a child is so intense, these adults fall into an abyss they never recover from, thus turning them into vicious killers. In Williamson’s slasher flicks, there’s limited screen-time after his villains are unmasked, so in using parents-gone-psycho, he creates believable motives for very flawed, human monsters.

You Did A Bang Up Job, Mrs. Loomis

In Scream 2 (1997), Sidney (Neve Campbell) sees friends and strangers get attacked by a new Ghostface killer. Under one mask is a new friend; under the other, is a face from the past. Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), killer in the last movie, is positively, absolutely six-feet underground. In looking for “good, old-fashioned revenge,” his mother has come to finish what her son started. Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) puts on an alias in public, convincing as star-struck reporter Debbie Salt. She attempts to get close to Gale (Courteney Cox), to which the grand dame of bitchy reporters has one comment to offer: “Your flattering remarks are both desperate and obvious.” At least Mrs. Loomis has the brains to not give an alias that’s really an anagram.


She wears the Ghostface costume several times -- perhaps a messed up way to feel connected to her late son -- to kill Randy and chase after Gale. When Mrs. Loomis finally confronts Sidney, a feral monster rises. The mother’s unblinking, wide eyes match the white to her pantsuit. She holds Sidney at gunpoint, a disturbed grin on her face. Metcalf carefully treads between hammy and fury, dissolving the mousiness of Debbie Salt into the predator of her true self. By the time she’s nearly defeated by stage props and equipment, Mrs. Loomis shrieks, wildly swinging a knife to catch any part of Sidney’s flesh.

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“You know what makes me sick? I’m sick to death of people saying that it’s all the parent’s fault. That it all starts with the family,” she cries out. “You wanna blame someone? Why don’t you blame your mother!” Mrs. Loomis deflects the blame Sidney tosses her way, but Kevin Williamson sure doesn’t. In Eli Roth’s History of Horror, he appears in the episode, “Sequels That Don’t Suck,” about horror installments which successfully do something different to warrant their existence. In talking about Scream 2, Williamson provides who can be blamed for Billy’s bloodlust: “Bad parenting creates psychos.” Mrs. Loomis memorializes Billy as an angel, not the violent murderer he was. Sidney insults Billy’s memory and Mrs. Loomis retorts, “Was that a negative, disparaging remark about my son? About my Billy?” This is a woman who kills to honor his memory, who orchestrates a “real-life sequel” of multiple deaths. One can only imagine, had death not separated them, the trouble this mother and son duo would have gotten up too.

It’s Got A Death Curse!

Before Randy’s (Jamie Kennedy) untimely death, he had a chat about the new Ghostface’s identity, after all, it didn’t have to be two young men again. “Mrs. Voorhees was a terrific serial killer,” he states as an example. It isn’t by mistake Williamson name-drops her in two Scream movies. It acknowledges the horror legacy that came before, like Betsy Palmer’s performance as a mother from hell. She’s unassuming as a threat, an older woman in a cozy blue sweater couldn’t possibly stick an arrow through a victim’s throat, right? This dead wrong assumption is what causes many characters to end up, well, dead. She kills two for their negligence in leaving her little Jason alone in the water to drown. But that’s the 1958 prologue. In 1979, Mrs. V is too far gone -- little, dead Jason talks to her, pushing her to, "Kill, Kill, Kill...Mom, Mom, Mom." The counselors she hunts down are innocent, their crime being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Screenwriter Victor Miller has talked about how personal this villain was. In a 2007 interview, he went on to say, “The campers would be eliminated by the world’s most protective (and insane) mother, Mrs. Voorhees," and later on describe her as “the mother I never had.”


Don’t Drink and Drive, Or Hit and Run

1997 was a big year for Williamson. Scream 2 was released along with I Know What You Did Last Summer. A loose adaptation of Lois Duncan’s YA thriller novel, the movie is a straightforward slasher. Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her friends celebrate July 4th with a late night trip to the beach. On their way back, they hit a fisherman with their car, and out of fear, cover it up. One year later, he returns as the anniversary approaches. In trying to investigate, Julie learns a young man’s body washed up ashore near their hit-and-run. But it’s a red herring. Ben Willis (Muse Watson) killed the young man, for surviving the car accident that killed his daughter. It’s Willis who saw the oncoming headlights and was left for dead.

This close call could be poetic justice, to paraphrase the Confucius quote: “Seek revenge and you should dig two graves.” Willis, living on nothing but spite, decides on more mayhem with his trusted hook. Unlike Mrs. Loomis, but much like Mrs. Voorhees, Ben Willis isn’t directly seen until the finale. He saves Julie when she thinks Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is the killer. His weathered, rough appearance could belong to a papa bear. That it easily shifts into a vicious man, is bad luck for Julie and exposes how wrathful he’s ended up. The boat he lures Julie on, is an entire shrine for the deceased Susie Willis. It’s called the Sweet Susie, and Julie finds a room consisting of newspaper clippings and photos of his victims on one wall, memories of his daughter on the other. This is all that’s left in the fisherman, grief and scorn. “Kids like you should be out having fun,” Willis says. “Drinking, partying...running people over. Getting away with murder. Things like that.”

Image via Amazon

Muse Watson, in an interview for Vulture, explained how he tried to develop the role, remembering he asked on set, “This whole thing is about my daughter. So could you put some pictures of me and my daughter fishing on the boat?” It got added, though Watson felt it was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment. “I understand it being a horror movie, they just wanted me to be a bad guy. But I was trying to put some depth and reality into this guy. I could’ve hoped they showed a little more of that -- like the pictures of my daughter lasting only three seconds.”

Another Mother From Hell

In Sick, Parker (Gideon Adlon) and Miri (Bethlehem Million) head to a secluded cabin, a perfect place to wait out the mandatory two-week quarantine during April 2020. Their getaway turns into a home invasion when a masked figure attacks. Not just one, it’s a whole damn family of killers! Williamson gives another nod to Friday the 13th, in naming Jane Adams’ character Pamela and her husband Jason (Marc Menchaca), and it’s Pamela who is in charge of what goes down. These parents, along with their son, attack those they blame for losing another child to a fatal COVID infection. Their main target, Parker, remains adamant she’s not sick, until a nasal swab test proves otherwise. She’s positive and asymptomatic.

Like Metcalf and Watson, Adams gets to create a character with limited screen-time. She’s nervous and exhausted, applying pressure to her head like a migraine is pounding on the other side of her skull. When the plan falls apart, Pamela does the last thing she knows. She swings an ax at Parker, screaming at the girl, fueled by grief and rage. How she expects to get away with the killings is simple. “Irresponsible girls can start irresponsible fires that burn down the house.” It’s only natural Pamela gets an honorable, painful death by fire. Kudos to the stunt performer for Pamela’s sprint while ablaze, it could rival Mrs. Voorhees’ slo-mo decapitation.

Image via NBC Universal

Kevin Williamson and Katelyn Crabb worked together on Sick’s script, Crabb telling him she wanted to “make sure that every decision made is the very next smartest decision in the moment. It can be impulsive, it can be erratic, but it has to be the smartest decision in the moment.” Parker and Miri prove themselves to be tough survivors. Once Parker gets a blow on Pamela’s son, she doesn’t stop until he’s seemingly dead; Miri builds her own splint from scratch to help her damaged leg. Working in favor of this is the murderous family. They lost a loved one and out of misguided pain, can’t fathom he made the mistake of going to a crowded party, maskless. Others must be at fault.

A Horrific Lesson in Parenting

Twisted as it may be, these villains dish out a form of parenting. It’s horrific, like slasher movies tend to be, but it’s a lesson they’re teaching nonetheless. Sidney wrongfully accuses Cotton (Liev Schreiber) of her mother’s murder, and he spends Scream 2 anxiously trying to clear his name among public opinion. Understandably, Sidney wants to avoid any contact with him; it isn't like she purposely wanted the wrong killer imprisoned. Mrs. Loomis tries to use their tense relationship to her advantage during a standoff, forcing Sidney to ultimately accept her part in helping un-disgrace Cotton’s name.

Ben Willis is a warning of the perils to reckless driving and then some. “I know all about ‘accidents,’ and let me give you some advice,” Willis barks, “When you leave a man for dead, you make sure he's really dead!” Ray and Julie hear this, yet they do not listen. They aren’t concerned that his body hasn’t been recovered, instead they go off to live in a false sense of security. “I Still Know!” is inevitable when the message appears in the closing minutes.

In Sick, real-world frustrations add to Pamela’s motives. Why can’t people just wear a mask? Miri wanted to stay vigilant with safety measures, to avoid giving COVID to her father. Parker’s ignorance to her asymptomatic status effectively halts Miri’s plan. Neither of the girls would have known, had it not be for Pamela’s nasal swab test. Despite these final girls’ flaws, minor or major, Kevin Williamson holds Mrs. Loomis, Ben Willis, and Pamela accountable for their extreme actions. Unleashing a massacre won’t bring loved ones back. These parents are not the justice-seekers they fool themselves to be.