The teenagers of the 90s were bored of traditional horror movies featuring haunted houses, vampires or deformed monsters. They had seen them all. So Wes Craven, having reinvigorated the horror genre once before with ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, set out to do it again. Along with Kevin Williamson, who they created a new kind of horror – one that you could laugh at as well as scream at.
What made Scream so successful is that it was never patronising, and displayed a strong sense of ironic self-awareness. It took every horror cliché in the book and turned them upside down. The characters did not follow the clichés, but in fact talked about them, and talked about what would happen if they were in a movie. Take the opening sequence, for example: Casey (Drew Barrymore) is making popcorn and waiting for her boyfriend when she suddenly receives a phone call. Normally, this would be a huge clichè, only this time the killer decides to play a little game (horror film quiz, naturally) with his victim. In fact, the only reason why he kills her is that she gave the wrong answer to one of his questions. That scene is both very scary, and at the same time funny as it tests the characters’, and the audience’s, knowledge of the horror genre.
The opening scene was also famous for killing off Drew Barrymore within the first 15 minutes. She was the biggest star of the film, and assumed to be ‘the final girl’ surviving until the end. The scene is the most iconic from the series, and Casey, with her tear drenched face, knit sweater and knife feature on the front of our Scream movie t-shirt.