Sparking the late 90s campy slasher film boom, Scream terrified audiences in 1996 as Wes Craven puts his hand to serial killers. The meta-movie explores the horror tropes with a certain self-awareness that adds to the horror and inserts comedy, defying the cliches and stating the rules. The story embraces the genre and doesn't shy away from the overly campy nature of a murderer stalking teenage girls in a small town.
The story begins with the iconic phone call as young teen Casey (Drew Barrymore) is home alone. The conversation delivers the iconic line "What's your favorite scary movie?" before diving into dumb victim choices and gore. This murder brings back the media to the town of Woodsboro that experienced a previous flood of reporters a year early with a mysterious murder. Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is still struggling with her mother's death as a new killer stalks her.
The film contributed further to the horror genre with the ghostly masked killer who was not an unstoppable force, but stumbling human that could be knocked down and outrun. Surrounding Sydney are potential suspects including her best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan), her lustful boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich), Tatum's boyfriend Stuart (Matthew Lillard), and film buff Randy (Jamie Kennedy). The killer slices through victims including the Principal (Henry Winkler). There are some gruesome deaths including a garaged door, a television, and, of course, a knife.
The clueless police are helpless to stop the murders, especially Deputy Dewey (David Arquette), Tatum's older brother, appropriately spoofed in the comedy Scary Movie. The intrepid reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is on the case shining camera lights and shoving microphones in Sydney's face.
This 90s classic doesn't hold up so well watching it twenty years later with cheesy dialogue and a predictable plot, but I totally understand how the movie became so iconic and sparked not only numerous sequels but several spoofs and other horror movies hoping to recapture the magic. At a younger age, I was spooked by the haunting black clade, knife-wielding, ghost-masked killer. The movie explored the horror genre while simultaneously making an entertaining slasher flick.