For this study I have chosen Scream , a modern horror film directed by Wes Craven in 1996, and will be focussing on the opening sequence because this is the film that introduced me and I suspect a whole generation of movie goers to the genre of horror hence the first scene is our first view of this new world. The action starts with an attractive blonde girl Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) at home one evening when the phone rings and she answers it to find a smooth, friendly voice on the other end of the line. Despite showing mild irritation Casey is flirtatious with the caller before hanging up but he then immediately when he rings back and they talk about old horror films and flirt some more. The sequence takes an ugly turn as the mystery voice persists in calling and asking personal questions before starting to make threats and then revealing Caseys boyfriend tied to a chair on the patio. The caller then starts a test of Caseyâ€™s horror movie knowledge, informing her she is fighting for her own and her boyfriends own life. The boyfriend is killed and Casey starts running round the house in a panic, ending up outside crying hysterically till she sees her parentâ€™s car driving down the road. At this point someone in a black robe and white mask attacks her and after a brief scuffle kills her with a knife as we see her parents arrive home to the mess in the house. Finally Caseys mother looks outside and screams as she notices her daughter has been strung up on a tree outside and has been â€˜gutted like a fishâ€™ a fate which the caller had referred to earlier in the sequence.
In researching the film I came across an article in â€˜Studying Filmâ€™ which analysed the first scene of Scream using Roland Barthes system of textual narrative codes. Barthes was a French writer and cultural theorist who set out in his book S/Z to uncover a multiplicity of codes present in a text and hence lay claim to the plural quality of discourse, which also supposes that any text is merely a collection of familiar â€˜signifiersâ€™ that the reader passively deciphers and mobilises into a purely conventional response.