Premise: Everyone wants a piece of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). That is, everyone wants her in pieces. In each film, a masked killer in a black robe stalks her -- first in her hometown, then in college and finally in Los Angeles. Each time, the killer is revealed to be a different person, although all of the culprits have ties to each other and have a fondness for crank phone calls. All three films, directed by Wes Craven, are renowned for playing with the conventions of slasher movies.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
Sidney has problems. Her mother was just killed, a TV reporter named Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is writing a tell-all book about the murder, her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) is pressuring her to give up the whole virginity thing and to top it all off, she's being stalked by a homicidal maniac. She suspects that Billy is the culprit until he's stabbed in front of her after they FINALLY have sex. (They aren't around to hear their friends explain that having sex in a horror movie usually leads to death.) In the end, though, Billy is indeed the killer, but he had an accomplice, Stu (Matthew Lillard). Billy also killed Sidney's mother for having an affair with his father. Sidney and Gale go all "girl power" and take out the psychopaths.
Scream 2 (1997)
Sidney's enrolled in college and trying to put all of the murder and mayhem behind her. Unfortunately for her, Murder & Mayhem 101 is a prerequisite. Just as a movie based on the first film's murders, entitled Stab, is being released, a new set of murders begins around campus. Sidney is again the target, as her friends go down one by one. Again, her boyfriend, Derek (Jerry O'Connell), is a suspect, but this time, he gets stabbed and does indeed die. Whew. The killer is in fact her old boyfriend's mother (Laurie Metcalf), who again has an accomplice: Derek's friend Mickey (Timothy Olyphant). Sidney gets the better of them, though, with the help of Cotton Weary (Liev Schrieber), the man wrongfully accused of Sidney's mother's death. Awkward.
Scream 3 (2000)
Sidney lives a secluded life, seeing as every friend she's ever had is dead. She's drawn back into the limelight, though, when Cotton Weary is killed in Los Angeles. She's brought to Hollywood, where the third Stab movie is being filmed, by police officers who want her help solving the crime. Soon, the Stab actors are systematically disposed of by the masked killer, blurring the line between movie and "reality." This time, the killer is Sidney's half brother, Roman (Scott Foley). He actually orchestrated the other two films' killings by manipulating Billy and his mom. As expected, he pays for his evil ways with a bullet to the head, courtesy of Dewey (David Arquette), one of the few characters to survive all three films.