For a film whose genre self-awareness has now become as culturally prevalent as the very cinematic conventions it addressed, Scream remains a highly polished piece of meta-slasher mayhem. Chockablock with references to its classic horror predecessors, Kevin Williamson’s script manages the considerable feat of paying endless homage while at the same time simultaneously subverting and adhering to the “rules” of films just like itself, which are laid out by Jamie Kennedy’s Jamie Lee Curtis-loving geek during the film’s bloody climax. This tale of high-schooler Sidney’s (Neve Campbell) attempts to evade a serial killer in a Ghostface costume – a mission intimately related to her mother’s murder a year earlier – bends but never breaks the principles underlying girl-in-madman-peril sagas, exhibiting both a good-natured wink-wink sense of humor as well as a desire to produce actual thrills. It’s a delicate balancing act performed admirably by the cast, which includes Courtney Cox as the tabloid journalist who’s profited from Sidney’s family story, David Arquette as the town’s bumbling deputy, and Skeet Ulrich as Sidney’s boyfriend and prime suspect in the area’s string of slaughters. Yet even more than Williamson’s jokey allusions and self-referential plotting – which eventually twists upon itself in amusingly intricate ways – it’s Wes Craven’s stylishly frightful direction that truly gives Scream its electricity, with the A Nightmare on Elm Street auteur (who also appears in a Freddy-licious cameo) giving the material a sinister sleekness, never more so than during the iconic opening sequence of Barrymore, Jiffy Pop and malevolent prank calls.