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Ranking The Scream Series Ahead Of Scream 6

Scream Rankings Cover

Over the course of its five movies, the Scream series has earned its place among the most iconic horror franchises. In addition to being my personal favorite, I would argue it’s the best horror franchise out there. Sure, some might have better single movies (Halloween, The Exorcist, Poltergeist are a few, among other classics, some will cite), but the extended quality of the Scream movies is what puts it at the top. So many of the others in the conversation have some truly awful, and I mean awful movies (2007’s Halloween, anyone?). Scream doesn’t have that.

Even at its worst, Scream still manages an effective blend between scary, grisly, and fun. After taking a decade off after Scream 4, the series roared back with last year’s Scream. And with the sixth installment out this weekend, why not go through the series and see how they stack up against each other.

5) Scream 3

Scream 3
David Arquette and Parker Posey in Scream 3 (2000)

While, I think this is clearly the worst in the franchise, but I don’t hate it at all. It still has a lot of what you want from a Scream movie, it just does it all worse than the others. But what really does it in for me is the ending. The ultimate reveal, the motivations, the way it tries to reframe information and reveals from the original. It’s a real downer of a conclusion.

It could have used more Sidney, as the other characters weren’t compelling enough to justify her lack of screen time. However, Parker Posey as the actress playing Gale Weathers in Stab 3, the movie-within-the-movie, is a highlight every time I re-watch this one.

4) Scream 4

Scream 4
Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts in Scream 4 (2011)

Scream 4 boasts the second best opening scene of the franchise (you’re not going to beat the iconic opener from the first). It shows the series still has the juice to dive into the self-referential style that helped make the first two entries so successful.

Watch Scream 4’s Opening Scene Here: Scream 4 Opening Scene (HD Version)

It also has a strong ending, being the first – and still only – one of the franchise to truly surprise me with the killer reveal. It does dial back the scare-factor a bit, which could be a fare criticism for some. But what it lacks in fear, it makes up for in campy fun. For a movie about a serial killer brutally murdering high school students, it’s a pretty good time at the movies.

3) Scream 2

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Neve Campbell, Lieve Schreiber, and Courteney Cox in Scream 2 (1997)

Lots of horror franchises have a strong first movie but can’t match it with the sequel. Scream 2 fares better than maybe any other horror series in giving its fans a strong second movie. It follows several of the same conventions of the first, but (obviously) focused more on sequels this time around. It’s an incredibly self-aware horror satire that has no qualms about zinging itself in the process. Like its predecessor, a great mixture of horror and humor. It goes a little harder into the comic side, but still doesn’t skimp on the scares. Also has such a campy ending/final reveal that I simply can’t get enough of.

Also read: Scream 6 Director Responds To Backlash After Ghostface Ditches Iconic Knife For A Shotgun

2) Scream (2022)

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Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox in Scream (2022)

Some detractors might point to the fact that, for all intents and purposes, Scream is barely more than a remake of Scream. And they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong; there are several major similarities. But the signature Scream meta commentary and self-satirizing are back and working in full effect. And if you share that viewpoint, it helps keep the audience in on the joke and prevents plot points and characters from feeling like lazy retreads from the original. What it does best, though, in terms of differentiating itself from the original, is leaning away from the humor just enough. It’s still funny, and has its light-hearted moments, but there’s a more focused centering on the scares, tension, and gore.

The fifth entry does about as good a job as you could hope for in handling the “passing of the torch” feeling to the new cast. If the series is going to continue, it would have to move on from Sidney, Gale, and Dewey at some point. It struck a great balance of paying homage to the original trio while introducing the audience to the new cast of characters. I don’t know if they fully realized what they had when they cast Jenna Ortega, but she’s been killing it in everything she’s been in recently, and certainly seems to be a future superstar. As long as she’s involved, I’ll keep high hopes for the franchise moving forward.

1) Scream (1996)

Courteney Cox, Jamie Kennedy, and Neve Campbell in Scream (1996)

And here we are, as if there was ever any doubt. The original Scream is my favorite horror movie of all time. I’ve never been the biggest horror fan, but I’ve started to come around, and it all started here. I finally got around to watching these movies a few years ago and I was instantly in love. No horror movie has a better balance of scares and satire, deconstructing slasher conventions while never falling victim to those same conventions.

There’s no shortage of praise for Scream. The opening scene perfectly subverting viewers’ expectations. The introduction of iconic villain Ghostface. Introducing Sidney Prescott, perhaps the best final girl ever (the best, as far as I’m concerned). The amazing final scene that still stands as one of the best reveals of all time. The who maybe wasn’t the most surprising, but the reasoning and motivations plus the unhinged performances by Skeet Ulrich and – especially – Matthew Lillard put it over the top.

Well there we are. There’s nothing else to say, really. I love these movies and I cannot wait to see what Scream 6 – and the future – holds for fans. But what do you think? Did I get this completely right? Was I way off base? Let us know your rankings in the comments!

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Written by Matt Hambidge