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Every ‘Scream’ Movie Ranked

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What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?

By acknowledging the cliches of horror-slasher films, writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven created a self-aware film with 1996’s Scream by dissecting those cliches and rules of serial killer movies. The film ultimately revived the slasher genre in the mid-90s and paved the way for films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend. With a witty blend of horror and humor, the Scream movies are a great way to kick off the spooky season of October! With the seventh film of the iconic slasher series in the works, here is a list ranking the movies of the Scream franchise from worst to best!

6. Scream 3 (2000) 

Scream 3

For fans, this spot on the list is no surprise. Scream 3 stopped the franchise dead in its tracks by clinging too much to comedy rather than horror. Moving the meta franchise to Hollywood, Scream 3 is about a slasher movie set stalked by an actual slasher. With series heroes Sidney, Dewey, and Gale on the case, the trio work to unmask the latest killer to dawn the mask of Ghostface. Watched back to back with its two predecessors, Scream 3 is much less tense and not as scary. In fact, it’s a bit funny. The whole Scream franchise is trademarked by satirical humor, but the satire felt organic in the first two. The meta-horror is explored through the film centering around the production of “Stab 3”. The body count rises, the list of suspects narrows, and the killer is revealed with respect to the franchise’s formula, but in a way that is not as innovative as the original two. Regardless, Scream 3 is a fun and entertaining entry into the series that falls back on its predecessors.

5. Scream 4 (2011) 

Scream 4

The fourth installment is a fun ride, but its biggest flaws are the new cast and a lack of tonal consistency. Rewrites and on-set production issues stuttered the final product into what it is now, and the whodunnit elements of the plot are muddied by flatly written characters when compared to the original cast. Even more glaring, though, is the tone; it’s all over the place. It jumps from the darkest gore ever done in the franchise with Ghostface’s return to having one-liners like “fuck Bruce Willis” during a character’s death, feeling like it’s unable to commit to the horror or the humor in a balanced manner. The first three movies juggled the respective tones and formulas more consistently. It jumps from one to the other in a way that feels unfocused and jarring. Scream 4 does have the most unique twist, and one of the best killer reveals in the entire franchise, which elevates the film, but it’s not enough to undo an unfocused plot. 

4. Scream VI (2023)

Scream 6

Scream 6 brought big changes but kept the tonal consistency that Scream 4 had lost somewhere during its production. Not only did the story move to New York City, but this film marks the first Scream movie without Sidney Prescott. Luckily, the younger cast, including Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera, continue to prove the franchise is in good hands. The sisters attempt to move on from the events of the last film with a new life in New York City, only for a new Ghostface to emerge. It tries new things with the franchise, like a clever opening sequence that plays on the established formula. But it doesn’t feel as fresh as the previous entry, and the Ghostface reveal was disappointing. The new setting, returning cast, and a few legacy characters make this a fun movie with a different vibe, mixing up the formula with its contemporary setting and more modern feel.

3. Scream 2 (1997)

Scream 2

Scream 2 set the standard of what the franchise would become. Riding in off the tails of the first one with a vengeance. Only a month after the debut of the first film, the sequel was greenlit. In the sequel, Sidney Prescott is now in college, but Ghostface returns to haunt her, mimicking the events of a new horror film based on the events of the first movie. Creatively jaw-dropping kills and a Ghostface reveal that no one saw coming made the sequel a critical part in the success of the series as a whole. Yet its plot is suspenseful, playfully cheerful, and commentative on what makes horror so appealing in a way that is brutally obvious. Scream 2 has one of the most surprising and emotional kills in the series. The killer is basically impossible to guess and is hidden so well within the framework that the reveal hits the audience hard. 

2. Scream (2022) 

Scream 5

Scream (2022), also known as Scream 5, is an ideal entry, and it delivers the best of both worlds while respecting the original and embracing a modern franchise reboot. It speaks to the Scream fans directly and successfully pulls off the now iconic Scream formula. Set about 25 years from the original movie, Scream (2022) finds a town that has forgotten the legacy of Ghostface. Its new cast, including young Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), is oblivious to any of the classic horror movies of the 90s, preferring a new type of horror. Setting up a clever deconstruction of modern franchise reboots with a young cast. Original characters like Dewey (David Arquette), Gale (Courteney Cox), and Sidney (Neve Campbell) are back, but now as supporting players for the new generation. The set pieces lack a bit of the theatrical swagger of Wes Craven’s best scenes in the other films. But Ghostface’s kills indulge in gore in a way Craven never did. The film’s murderers take the fanboy culture to the next level in their dedication to Ghostface’s legacy. 

1. Scream (1996) 


The number one spot belongs to the film that breathed life into the fading genre of horror in the 90s. Scream follows high school student Sidney Prescott as she grieves her mother’s passing a year earlier. When a horror-movie-obsessed killer begins stalking her and her friends, they gather at a house party for safety in numbers but instead find themselves fighting to survive the night. Scream basically invented 90s horror. Prior to 1996, slasher movies were burnt out with endless sequels. Audiences were rooting for Jason, Michael Myers, and Freddy Kreuger because they had many sequel films. Scream took this formula and made it new by simply putting its characters in its audience’s shoes. It was a film that understood itself, the genre, and its tired audience. But by including humor, Scream was satirical of itself but took its story very seriously. In this case, humor helped the horror. 

Scream (1996) Miramax Official Trailer

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Author at Dead Talk News | Posts

Omid Rad is a freelance writer, movie lover and overall geek.

Matt Keyser is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton University with a bachelor's in Communications-Journalism. He is a freelance entertainment reporter with a focus on film and television. As a former senior programming coordinator for the Newport Beach Film Festival, Matt's experience with critiquing narratives and documentaries has helped showcase his passion for television and cinema through his writing.