I was working in a video store when this came out and I knew about Wes Craven's New Nightmare. In that Freddy movie, he had the cast of the original Nightmare on Elm Street being hunted down as the actors themselves, as if Freddy had escaped into the real world. When I heard Scream was "super meta" I assumed he was going to continue his pattern and have himself as the killer or something clever like that. That the movie was more conventional was kind of a let down to me.
Scream is about a girl whose mother died horribly and created a kind of legend in her town. Now, her classmates are being killed off by a killer wearing a ghost face mask. In a lot of ways, this is a classic whodunit with a big cast getting narrowed down until only the hero and the killer is left. So, it is rather smarter than the average slasher movie, for sure.
There are strong performances from Drew Barrymore, Jamie Kennedy, Rose McGowan, Courtney Cox, Skeet Ulrich (of all people) and even David Arquette does a solid job making his sad sack deputy believable. The reason the movie is called meta is because it acknowledges a universe of slasher movies and that those movies behave in predictable ways. Like Cabin in the Woods, it is a bit of a challenge to other filmmakers to be more innovative with their horror. This leads to some sold comedic moments even though the movie is firmly a horror.
If you have somehow never seen this movie, make sure you have seen classics like Friday the 13th and Halloween first. The commentary on these past movies will make more sense if you've actually seen them.