If you’ve enjoyed a horror movie released in the past twenty years, you can thank Wes Craven for his revolutionary satire Scream. At the time, horror was stale and discarded after years of bad sequels and relentless cliches. Scream came along and turned the genre on its head by dissecting those cliches, and managed to strike a balance between meta humor and genuine scares. It changed horror movies forever, setting a new standard of creativity that proved vital to the genre’s survival. Set in a small town that’s suddenly ravaged by a masked serial killer, Scream‘s premise sounds like a run-of-the-mill horror movie on paper. Instead, the script and production choices brilliantly satirize and subvert the expectations audiences had for this kind of story at the time. In a brilliant case of trolling, the big-name actress that dominated the movie’s promotional images was killed off in the first scene, paving the way for a cast of mostly newcomer teen actors whose characters were a first in the genre: high school students who were aware of iconic horror movies, and the accompanying stereotypes and rules of the genre. The acting is wicked fun across the board, with Courteney Cox as ruthless reporter Gail Weathers and Henry Winkler in a gem of a minor role as the high school principal. Scream was a huge success that spawned three more films, which supplied equally clever commentary on sequels, trilogies, and reboots. Aside from a few instances of 90s cheese, the original Scream still holds up two decades later as a pivotal part of horror history.