When it comes to self-aware, analytical horror, no franchise comes close to Scream. Not only did it revitalize slashers in the late 90s, but its meta approach seems to now be the standard for any modern slasher that hopes to rise above the old tropes.
So with its latest installment tackling the infamously prevalent “requel”, we thought it would be fun to jump on the internet bandwagon and rank every single Scream movie!
Spoilers for Every Scream Movie – You’ve Been Warned
5. Scream 4
Bring on the angry comments for daring to put this movie in last place, but hear me out. The fact that Scream 4 gets the last place spot is honestly through no fault of its own, and caused by outside circumstances. Back in 2011, it was a noble attempt to try and tackle the idea of remakes, what with them being so popular in horror (and Hollywood overall) at that time.
It juggled its legacy characters with a newer, younger cast, but seemed to struggle between which one to focus on. As talented as Emma Roberts normally is, her character Jill never seemed developed enough to justify the twist ending where she’s the killer. Between this and the fact that Scream (2022) sort of did a better job at dealing with similar subject matter, it leaves Scream 4 in an unfortunate void.
While it remains Wes Craven’s final film, by this point it seemed like the franchise was just an autopilot. And call it a nitpick, but the movie itself has a strange “digital glow” to it that makes it atrocious to even look at. It was an admirable attempt to revamp the series, but one that was ultimately outdone.
4. Scream 3
Frequently regarded by many as the worst, no one is here arguing that Scream 3 is a masterpiece. That said, if you take it for what it is, an absolutely ridiculous, but fun entry that almost turns into a soap opera, it makes for an entertaining watch.
To its credit, it continued the trend of at least trying new ideas by taking the murders to Hollywood itself and putting Tinsel Town at the forefront of the satire. The series had always been meta and there’s something extra meta about the killer stalking the film sets meant to recreate the original movie, not to mention actors getting killed off for playing the real life characters.
Granted, the reveal of Roman and the entire retcon around the original movie doesn’t quite work, but if you imagine it as the aforementioned soap opera, you can appreciate the movie for committing to its own ridiculousness. Between that and Gale’s bangs, Scream 3 makes for a great laugh!
3. Scream (2022)
Upon its announcement, many (myself included) weren’t entirely sold on this. Scream 4 had already covered the remake and while that movie was far from perfect, it felt like sacrilege to attempt a Scream movie without Wes Craven. But the fact that the same team who brought us Ready or Not approached this movie with such love and passion for the subject matter, they crafted something amazing.
The result was a movie that skewers and critiques the very idea of requels, all while doing the exact same thing in pure meta fashion. It’s critical of soulless cash grab reboots, while also pulling no punches in regards to toxic fandoms who feel entitled to have their franchises play out the way they want. It was a breath of fresh (and gory) air that reminded us why this series is so beloved to begin with.
2. Scream 2
It was the very first sequel that had no business being as good as it was. While other slasher sequels struggled to justify their own existence, Scream 2 doubled down on the meta commentary and actually gave horror fans a compelling story with characters who had grown since the first.
The young and innocent Dewey was now more reserved and cautious, Sidney lived with the overwhelming fame that she never wanted, and we even got to see Gale deal with the very same type of annoying reporters that she herself was.
Each character felt like a natural progression of everything that had happened to them, and given how this was the first sequel, it was able to explore the sequel tropes before it got too far into running out of good ideas (like in Scream 3 and 4). It’s even the first movie to introduce the plotline of there being a movie based on these events in universe.
In addition, it’s just a really well shot and suspenseful movie. The theater scene alone in which Ghostface stalks Sidney while she’s rehearsing for a play makes for an excellent and terrifying sequence.
1. Scream (1996)
Of course this was always going to be in the top spot. There is absolutely no denying that Scream remains one of the most quintessential horror films in history, arguably having as much of an impact as Halloween did two decades earlier. It was the first time that the characters were aware of the tropes and diehard horror fans could easily identify with them.
It’s also easy to forget, among all the satire, just how brutal and violent a slasher it could be. That opening scene with Drew Barrymore is played for absolute tragedy and it’s shockingly effective, even 25 years later. Every single that’s ever come since has tried to hearken back to this original and there’s a reason why.
This was a movie that completely revolutionized the genre, and still continues to do so today. Slashers today either have to go meta, or fade into obscurity because we’ve seen it all before. Without Scream, there is no Cabin in the Woods or Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. It remains a timeless classic that despite being dated with its technology is just as appealing today as it was in 1996!
Which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!