I will prelude, that I am as surprised as you.
What breeds great horror? Suspense or gore, or perhaps campyness? The gore is lost if we aren't scared to see it, otherwise it's gross. We're scared to see it because of the suspense, the unknown of what's to happen; but the tentatively certain knowledge that "it" will happen... Though when, and how remains a mystery.
After a good scare, good horror treats you with a remission, a refractory period, if you will, where we, as viewers must recover and laugh that two dimensional images made us quiver or jump. The silliness of this notion leads to the campy, the "don't go in there" or "what's that noise?" As viewers, we eat this up; dissolve it, or laugh it off, because if we don't, "it," may in fact be real.The three come together the best in the most commercially successful genre.. The Slasher.
Five to six twenty-somethings, playing highschool-somethings, cause, invite, allow, or discover someone who they know (for the service of the plot, but no other reason) has died and it's the most gruesome of the actual deaths, as well as the most drawn out in the subject material. The best mix of these archetypes are as follows; the sceptic, joker, virgin, slut, and jock. The sixth it's usually a romantic interest for the virgin but it's usually absorbed into one of the other four types. They MacGuffin the high schoolers into either a Who-Dunnit or the "Who-Gives-A-Fuck-Let's-Get-Out-Of-Here" film. The first (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream, Saw, Nightmare on Elm Street, Prom Night, etc) is more culturally staying then the latter (Friday the 13th,Texas Chainsaw).
When you embrace the 3 most important ingredients (gore, suspense, and campyness) you have a franchise. Many franchises skate by with mediocre sequels that take no care to the story that made it popular. They make each installment gorier because that's what hooks us, the train crash, car accident,... the 1st death. The problem with this is then it becomes just about gore while suspense is forgotten. This in turn causes the campyness to leave the screen and enter the audience by them seeing how ridiculous and gross the film is and stop viewing subsequent films.
Only one franchise has pulled it off perfectly; with 4 films and now a new medium. Surprisingly meta (campy), relatable (suspense from your 5 archetypes), and gratuitous (gore); and that's Scream.
This review is of the tv show which I don't like that I like, but understand why I do. Every single film, as well as the new series, starts with the craziest, goriest death thus hooking us into the story. Every single film also has the suspense of what's to come and from whom (Who-Dunnit). We started out seeing the worst and assuming it will get worse but it doesn't though. We don't realize it because of its meta-camp and we get so reset after each scare that by the time the virgin escapes (that's the rule), we want them to. As viewers we are happy the bad, faceless figure is dead... Wait.. Double tap... NOW is dead; and believe the virgin deserves to escape because they outsmarted the bad mask. In contrast, the bad mask has just been more tame, killing off screen and us only seeing the aftermath (gore) as scary. Fewer deaths happen on screen and when they do, they are very quick.
And this is why the Scream TV show.. at least now, is perfect. Its creepy, suspenseful (with red herrings galore), and so VERY MTV (tween, silly, modern, digital, privacy free) that this may not be the show we asked for. But it's the show we deserve.. Scream.