Scream. 1996. USA. Directed by Wes Craven. Written by Kevin Williamson. With David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore. 35mm. 111 min.
Scream put an exclamation point on the postmodern horror film. Horror master Wes Craven marked the end of an era for the American slasher movie by folding the previous 20 years of genre tropes into one very “meta” experience: threatening phone calls, final girls, fear of sexuality, and the mystery identity of the killer(s). Without irony, Scream is an academic exploration of horror made fun, as a group of high school students—centered around horror heroine Sydney Preston—ponder the “rules” of horror movies while a masked killer cleverly guts their peers. Beginning with one of the more shocking opening scenes in genre history (reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock killing off his main character in Psycho), the film establishes everything the audience needs to know about the ride you’re about to take: anything goes.