When I was thinking about what movie I wanted to write about in my first entry here at Mad Sometimes, I decided to go with Scream, the horror movie that made me love horror movies. Funny enough, I did not notice or understand the allusions the movie is so famous for making to other horror movies when I first saw the film. I was just 10 years old, and I had not yet seen Halloween, Friday the 13th, Psycho, or any of the other movies this movie pays tribute to that I would watch and grow to love later. Truth be told, I only saw the movie because Drew Barrymore was in it.
You see, I loved Drew Barrymore growing up, and she remains my favorite actress today. My mom used to buy me her movies for birthdays and Christmases, and one year I got Scream. Knowing nothing about the film other than that Drew Barrymore was in it, and presumably in a prominent or lead role since her face was plastered all over the movie cover, I put the movie in my VCR one night and hit play. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when Drew Barrymore exited the movie barely after the ten-minute mark. I was pissed! I loved the movie, though, and it sparked my love for the horror movie genre. I guess you could say Drew Barrymore is the reason this blog exists in the first place, and so, rather than review Scream, which I will here at some point soon, believe me, I decided my first entry would be an exploration of Drew Barrymore’s iconic role of Casey Becker, who is responsible for this blog existing.
Before a director was ever found for Kevin Williamson’s Scary Movie, which later became Scream, Drew Barrymore was cast for the lead role of Sidney Prescott. She was enjoying a resurgence of her career at the time, and challenged perhaps only by Courtney Cox who was playing Monica in Friends, was the most recognizable face in the film.
Before shooting for the film began, Drew Barrymore contacted Wes Craven, the director, and stated that she wanted to play Girl Number One, Casey Becker.
“The first scene was really reminiscent of ‘When a Stranger Calls,’ and it was absolutely my favorite part.”
– Drew Barrymore to Entertainment Weekly
She had scheduling conflicts with another project, but still wanted to back the film. She told Craven that if she died, the audience would believe anyone could, and that she would support the film as if she was starring in it. She was on the front of every movie poster, and was the face that drew worldwide attention to the movie.
Her plan worked, as Scream was a huge success, and her death before opening credits shocked viewers and critics everywhere.
Drew Barrymore was amazing as Casey Becker. She gave a raw, real performance that was easy to relate to, and showed a range of emotions as the character. I personally felt for Casey. Unlike deaths in other horror movies, her death was both shocking and sad to me.
After Drew Barrymore did Scream, other big-name actors started doing horror projects, and the horror genre saw a boom after its previous decline in quality and popularity.
Casey Becker is the first character to appear onscreen or to speak in Scream. She dies within the first ten minutes of the film, which begs the question, why do I like her so much? Much credit can be paid to Drew Barrymore’s acting skills and performance. She brought the character to life and made me feel something for Casey. A lot can be attributed to the film as well, though.
Scream is a smart, witty, self-aware horror film series that plays with horror movie cliches and rules. Scream plays with the rules of a horror movie, Scream 2 plays with the rules of a sequel, Scream 3 plays with the rules of a concluding chapter in a trilogy, and Scream 4 plays with the rules of a film reboot. The series knows what is going on in the horror film genre, and pays homage to it in a way that leaves the viewer laughing just as much as it leaves the viewer feeling scared. Its characters feel like they are in a modern horror movie, and they have to follow horror movie rules to survive.
Poor Casey didn’t survive.
Although Casey was only in the film for ten minutes, a surprising amount of information is known about her. She was roughly 16 years of age. She was pretty and popular and was dating a football player. She was genuinely nice and caring, which we saw at the beginning of her phone conversation with her killer. She liked horror movies.
Casey was in a lot of ways the quintessential slasher victim. She was young, pretty, alone in a big house… I think she’s a lot more than that, though. Something about Casey Becker made her a horror film icon. I think it was a mixture of a lot of things: Barrymore’s performance, the surprise and impact of a big actress dying so early in the film, the pathos viewers had with Casey, and the overall success of the film. Everything came together just right, and it was magic.
Scream begins with a ring. Drew Barrymore’s character, Casey Becker, answers the phone. The guy on the other end dialed the wrong number, but tries to instigate a flirtatious conversation with Casey, calling back after Casey lets him go numerous times. Casey eventually indulges the guy, even lying and saying she doesn’t have a boyfriend when he asks. The conversation turns hostile when the guy on the other end states he wants to know who he’s “looking at,” and then corrects himself by saying “talking to.” Casey tries to get him off the phone, but is threatened and forced to play a game: movie trivia. Casey tries to resist, but is led to discover her boyfriend Steve tied to a chair on her patio, and is told to answer questions to save their lives.
After answering a question about Friday the 13th wrong, Casey watches as Steve is gutted. She gets a bonus question to save her own life, and is asked which door the killer is at. Casey refuses to answer, and the killer comes in for her, dressed in a black costume with a white ghost face mask inspired by Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, and wielding a knife.
Casey tries to get away, but is chased down and stabbed in her chest and neck. Her parents drive up while she is being attacked, and she tries to scream out to her mom, but has lost her voice from being stabbed in the neck. Casey doesn’t survive, and is stabbed, gutted, and hung to a tree by her entrails. In her final moments, Casey manages to do two amazing things: 1) she kicks Ghostface in the balls, and 2) she pulls his mask off to see who her killer is. The rest of us are left wondering throughout the rest of the movie.
Had Casey not refused to play the killer’s game and answered his questions correctly, would Casey and Steve have been left alone? I don’t think they would have been. Casey was an intended victim, probably chosen by Stu, her ex-boyfriend, and I think she was practice for Stu and Billy before they went after Sidney, their real target. Unfortunately for Casey, her death was predetermined and planned by the killers.
Aside from a big-name actress being offed in the first ten minutes of the film, Casey’s death scene was incredibly unsettling and gruesome for its time. Her murder felt real, and with Barrymore being easily identifiable, it was like watching everyone’s worst fears come true. Anyone could have been in Casey’s position, which is scary as crap.
The end of the first scene where Casey is hanging from a tree with her insides hanging out was almost too much in 1996, and Wes Craven was forced to speed the shot showing her corpse up to minimize its time on screen.
Horror Film No-No’s
Casey made pretty cliche horror movie moves on the night of her death. She went to the door and yelled “Who’s there?” after being taunted. The killer called her out on it. She threatened to call the police without actually doing so. She let the killer outsmart her in his trivia game. One might argue that Casey made a lot of mistakes that led to her eventual death, and had she acted differently, she might have survived. I tend to disagree.
Casey yelling at the door contributed in no way to her death. Yes, it’s a horror movie no-no, but Casey was already being taunted by her killer. It was pretty obvious at that time that the killer could see Casey, and so he already had his cat in the bag. He calling her out on it was just him taunting her more, trying to keep her scared, which was obviously fun to him.
I think the killer’s movie trivia game made absolutely no difference in whether she’d live or die as well. Billy and Stu mention as much near the end of the movie. They had already planned out this huge scheme, and Casey unfortunately was not the center of it. I think they would have killed Casey no matter what, because their main goal was to get to Sidney. Letting Casey live would have made Casey the star of their movie, not Sidney.
Casey was a great first victim for Billy and Stu, because, being in Sidney’s English class, but not being friends with Sidney, she was close enough to Sidney where her death would rock Sidney, but not break her. Sidney, as a final girl, should not feel threatened when she finds out about the first death close to her. I don’t think she feels at the center of the scheme when she finds out about Casey and Steve. Additionally, going against Casey is that she dumped Stu for Steve shortly before being killed. Her fate was written then.
I think there were a couple things Casey could have done to survive, but even doing them, her chances of survival would have been slim. The first is actively defending herself. Instead of running, she should have fought back. She probably would have still died. There were two killers, and Casey was unaware of this fact. If she attacked one, the other would likely pop up and save him.
The second option would have been her best bet for safety, and that’s running deep into her house to a secure area she could lock up. Had she done this, taken her phone with her, and called the police, she might have lived, or at least bought herself more time.
I have to pay Casey credit, though: Casey was smarter than many Scream series vicitims that came after her, and she did make an effort to escape. We have to remember Casey was caught off guard and terrified. She probably wasn’t thinking as clearly as she could have, and no one can really say what they would do in a situation like that.
Who Killed Casey?
Finally, I want to look at who is most likely to have killed Casey. We know Scream has two killers, Billy and Stu. Which one “sliced and diced” poor Casey?
I think they were both involved in Casey’s death. It was their opening act, and I think they used Casey to practice before going after Sidney. Stu was likely the one who chose her as a victim, and in my opinion, he was the one in the Ghostface costume who did the deed. When Casey pulled the mask off her killer, I think she had a look of recognition and resignation. Stu and Casey had a romantic history, and she had hurt him by dumping him for Steve. Stu had every reason to want to be the one to kill her, and it would make the most sense since she recognized him.
I think Billy was who taunted her on the phone. My reasoning for this is that Billy was the one obsessed with life portraying a movie, and wanted to make a movie of his own. Casey talked with Ghostface about movies more than anyone else until Billy brought up life being one big movie to Sidney.
Additionally, the killer on the phone was hostile, aggressive, and short-tempered with Casey. We see those qualities in Billy at the movie store when he’s talking to Randy.
The length of this entry about a character who was in a movie for roughly just ten minutes goes to show that Casey is a deep character and a horror movie icon. That, or I just think too much. Both are probably true. I think that Casey showed Drew Barrymore’s range as an actress, and I think Casey is one of her absolute best performances. I had a lot of fun writing about Casey Becker. I hope you enjoyed reading.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with who I think killed Casey? Could Casey have survived? Do other opening deaths rival hers? Sound off below!
Also, welcome to Mad Sometimes. 🙂