From Woodsboro to New York City: Every Scream Movie, Ranked
Do you like scary movies?
Scream, which started all the way back in 1996, is undoubtedly a horror franchise that has taken the genre by storm, as even though it may parody and be self-referential of these types of movies, it has become a great horror franchise in its own right. While the series may have entries that are better or worse than each other, there are truly no “bad” installments.
So, in honor of the release of Scream VI, let’s take a look at the franchise as a whole and definitively rank all movies in the Scream series.
If you’ve been waiting to check out this fantastic franchise, feel free to go and watch the movies, which are all on Paramount Plus, and then come back to this ranking once you have.
***Warning: There are significant spoilers for every Scream movie except for the sixth entry***
6. Scream 3
I know that I said that there wasn’t a bad film out of the franchise, and that’s true. Still, it’s definitely clear that Scream 3 is the worst of the group, as it is certainly the weakest and most disappointing. The third Scream installment is not without its great moments; the depiction of the returning trio is particularly interesting. However, there is just so much about the movie that lacks the charm that the other installments on this list have.
Firstly, Scream 3’s cast of characters outside the trio is forgettable and downright boring. Every other sequel on this list does a better job of mixing the legacy characters with new and fresh ones, while Scream 3 just has a bunch of uninteresting redshirts.
The biggest problem with Scream 3 is that the self-referential nature of the franchise is on a whole other level, with it being a focus given the environment change to Hollywood. On the one hand, it’s fun, and there’s still a good insight into trilogies and commentary about sex in Hollywood. Yet I can’t help but feel that it goes a bit too far, with the other Scream movies doing a much better job at balancing the serious with the parody.
Also worth mentioning is that having Roman be both the killer and Sidney’s long-lost brother jumps the shark in a way that surpasses the sort of absurd nature of the franchise. Plus, look at Gale’s bangs; those alone make Scream 3 worthy of last place.
5. Scream (2022)
The first thing to make clear is that there is a significant gap between Scream 3 and Scream (2022), but something had to be next, and this felt like the right choice. Scream (2022) is a major changeup in the franchise, as the series goes from focusing on the original trio to more on the “Core Four”, as they are called in Scream VI. This path was certainly bumpy though, as Scream (2022) feels like it’s trying to have its cake and eat it too, by having both groups exist simultaneously, which just ends up making the original trio feel shortchanged and doesn’t allow the Core Four to feel unique and stand on their own.
That being said, it was still fun to see the original trio back together for what is, unfortunately, probably the last time, and the movie is chock-full of fantastic references and easter eggs, along with an incredibly biting message about toxic fandom. Not all of it works as well as it probably should have, but the fact that Scream (2022) gives it its all is fun and great to see, especially seeing as how this is the first movie that was made after the death of the first four film’s director, Wes Craven. This film shows that Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin were fantastic choices to helm the franchise after Craven’s passing.
Furthermore, the cast of Scream (2022) is terrific, and while the killer reveal is probably the least shocking of the franchise, there are still some good elements to it. If only this movie didn’t also fall into some of the familiar trappings that happen in requels; for example, Dewey’s unfortunate demise very much gives vibes of a certain character dying in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
4. Scream 2
Scream 2 may be in the lower half of the ranking, but that is not to say that it is not a sequel worthy of the franchise. The opening kill is highly memorable, and the series continues its outstanding commentary of movies, this time focusing on sequels. The second installment does a lot right; it ups the ante of the original film in all the right ways while not going as overboard as a movie like Scream 3 does.
Really, the only issue that I have with Scream 2 is that it just simply doesn’t have as many memorable moments and characters as the other entries that place higher on this list. The cast of characters, in particular, tends to get lost in the shuffle when you look at the franchise as a whole. Sure, Ghostface is more intense here, but there is just a sort of magic and horror to the iconic villain that doesn’t come across as well as it does in the following three entries on this list.
3. Scream VI
Scream VI, the most recent movie in the franchise, does the incredibly impressive feat of reinventing the series in a major way while still managing to make it feel like it is still a Scream film. Taking the franchise onto the mean streets of New York City was an absolutely fantastic choice, as it gives a new level of threat to the Ghostface killer.
This new entry really emphasises the idea that no one is truly safe in a long-running franchise, which you can feel as the tension in this movie is unlike any other Scream. Watching people get attacked by a masked killer in public places is terrifying, and Scream VI does a fantastic job of making it feel like these attacks can actually happen.
Scream VI has a lot of things going for it and, really, the only thing that lowers it a bit is that the iconic trio is nowhere to be seen, besides some outstanding scenes with Gale. On the bright side though, this does allow for the Core Four to come into their own and gives Ghostface more of the focus, so it’s not too upsetting that the movie lacks Sidney and Dewey.
2. Scream 4
In what has proven to be a decently divisive entry, I believe that Scream 4 is one of the franchise’s best. The series is able to expertly return to Woodsboro, featuring multiple great new characters, Jill and Kirby being the standouts, while also successfully including the classic trio in a large part of the movie.
The analysis that Scream 4 makes regarding remakes is unforgettable, and what the movie says about social media and celebrity only continues to be proven truer and truer in the decade since the film was released. Jill is clearly one of the best Ghostfaces that the franchise has ever seen and is given a plethora of iconic moments in the entry’s third act.
In general, the kills are great, and the film is constantly upping itself with every scene involving Ghostface getting better and better. Scream 4 is a film that may have had people split upon its release. Still, the movie has definitely aged better than was probably expected, as more and more people come to appreciate what it was trying to do and, in my opinion, actually does pull off.
1. Scream (1996)
It may be the one that started it all, but the original Scream is still by far the best of the franchise. What this movie managed to do by being both a parody and a genuinely scary horror movie cannot be overstated, as it truly had an impact on the genre during a time when horror cinema was in a creative malaise.
From the shocking opening scene to an unexpected revelation that there are actually two killers, everything about Scream has held up incredibly well, with the movie constantly being discovered by more and more people. It cannot be overstated just how great it is to have a film like this make fun of horror movies, not out of malice but with love.
The writing and cast of characters in Scream are unquestionably top-tier, with movie buff Randy’s speech going on to be one of the most iconic moments in the whole genre. Not to mention that Ghostface himself is an iconic horror movie villain that quickly became just as recognizable as villains like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees.
Scream is certainly a movie for the record books, as it went on to launch a well-regarded slasher franchise that still manages to capture the hearts and fears of horror fans everywhere. No small feat!
What say you, though? What would your Scream ranking be? Let us know in the usual place below. And if you’re feeling brave, why not give our Scream trivia quiz a go before you leave. We dare you!
- Who Was the Killer(s) in Every Scream? Answered
- Who Dies In Scream VI? Answered
- Scream Franchise in Order, Listed
- Is Scream Based on a True Story? Answered
- Will Neve Campbell Be In Scream 7? Explained