As the release of Scream 6 draws near, and as a lover of the franchise, it would be criminal of me not to rate this series. From the films starting as commentary on the horror genre to some questionable script decisions, let’s take a look at the ranking of Scream films; from worst to best.
5. Scream 5 (also Scream 2022)
The 2022 entry to the franchise was branded as a “re-quel” – the sequel reboot that the character Mindy helpfully explains. It was a close call between positions 5 and 4, but I couldn’t ignore the obvious. It did a great job of introducing us to new characters; such as those that Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega brilliantly portrayed, whilst it also brought back the much-loved “legacy” characters. However, there was just so much that couldn’t be ignored. The inconsistencies in the timeline that questioned Sam’s age, too many characters for us to really care about, and the ultimately pathetic motive at the end. Let’s not forget Sidney’s line that Billy “started it all” when Scream 3 revealed Roman had started it. Talk about retconning the story. If you want to see everything wrong with Scream 5, check out this video by Cinema Sins. But I digress. If this movie was a set-up to a new trilogy, it could be argued how this might have worked. But it doesn’t stand on its own merit as a standalone film. Each of the original trilogy films could stand its own ground as a slasher film and still contributed to the overall arc. Not this one.
4. Scream 3 (2000)
Ahh, the much-forgotten movie that supposedly started it all. The big reveal at the end changed the way the first Scream was viewed. It was an incredible, but somewhat convenient, twist. It wasn’t the original plot for the movie but from what I’ve read, the original plan was much more cheesy. Although it turns out that the toxic fandom card was eventually used in Scream 5; maybe the audiences of 2000 weren’t ready for that kind of twist ending yet. Asides from that, taking the story out to Hollywood to the set of the in-universe movie STAB was an interesting choice. it gave us all the same chase sequence feelings as the original Scream. It mocked horror movie tropes through the STAB movies as well as itself. Talk about Meta. But, when all is said and done, Roman was not an interesting character or even memorable. If I hadn’t mentioned his name would you have even remembered who the killer was?
3. Scream 2 (1997)
Let’s follow the protagonist to college trope. Enjoyable. Exciting and has a good old plot twist. Nothing too fancy, just good old-fashioned revenge. The constant twists and turns; is it the boyfriend again? Is it Cotton this time? Each time you think you work out who it might be, they get murdered. One thing is for certain; Sidney secures herself as the badass Final Girl in the sequel by delivering killing shots to ensure the death of both Ghostfaces. The only thing that really upsets me about this sequel is Randy’s death. Where else are we supposed to get the rules of surviving a horror film from now?! Who else can be our comedic relief whilst criticising the genre of the film they’re in? The most endearing thing about this sequel is the fact it constantly complains about the irrelevance and awfulness of sequels in general. I do love that social commentary.
2. Scream 4 (2011)
As far as remakes go, this is top tier. Originally planned as a reboot to start a new trilogy, the movie had a good premise to begin with. If the ending had kept its original plan, then we would have seen Scream go in a new direction – a murderer who got away with it. However, we got what we got. We got a movie that mocked remakes with Sidney’s famous line to Jill “don’t [mess] with the original” and the new Randy in the form of cinema club that explained the rules of remakes. We saw a commentary on toxic fandoms in Jill and the concerns of social media. This addition to the franchise changed the pace of the original killing sprees of the 90s, it felt updated, faster and bigger whilst still holding onto the original essence of scream. Kirby’s phone call with Ghostface was reminiscent of Casey’s phone call in the opening of Scream (1996). It paid enough homage to the original whilst making a new path along the way. Even Jill has more motive than Amber and Richie.
1. Scream (1996)
An original is always the best. Arguably Scream is the most notable slasher film of the 90s, breaking the cycle of direct-to-video horror flicks, and a large amount of self-awareness. The nods to Wes Craven’s other works, openly making fun of them, still make me giggle every re-watch. The chase sequences were tense, the phone calls were twisted and fun, and the murders themselves were creative, yet gory. After the likes of Halloween, Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, horror movies had become tired and received low ratings. So what more could you want in a movie that rebooted the horror genre? The first in a series always does the legwork of setting up the premise, introducing the characters and setting the tone for the rest of a franchise. So kudos Craven and Williamson, what a franchise you have produced here!