The first trailer for Scream has officially dropped, reigniting excitement in the hearts of horror fans and admirers of the franchise. The plot re-introduces the protagonist Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the long-time survivor of the Woodsboro Murders. She is once again being threatened by an unknown perpetrator using the “Ghostface” disguise.
Horror audiences around the world first acquired a taste for the Scream franchise in the mid-’90s, amidst a dying genre. The 1996 cult classic featured a collaboration from Wes Craven and Kevin Willamson, which introduced a genre-altering refresher to the horror world. Thus, the dawning of a four-film slasher extravaganza was born. Along with one of the most recognizable horror movie villains of all time, Ghostface.
Scream (or Scream 5) has the potential to become the top installment in the franchise, though it certainly has big shoes to fill. This will be the first Scream film not directed by Wes Craven, who passed in 2015. However, this list will highlight all of the Scream films ranked from the worst to the best.
4. Scream 3
While it’s hard to pick an outright awful film in the Scream franchise, Scream 3 is undoubtedly the weakest contender. Compared to its two predecessors, Scream 3 pales in comparison to the healthy balance of extreme fear and satirical humor. Instead, it feels like an overabundance of campy humor. It also scored the lowest of all films in the franchise on Rotten Tomatoes, with a horrid score of just 40% and a lackluster 5.6/10 IMDb score.
Scream 3’s shortcomings are largely fueled by the lack of writer Kevin Williamson. Ehren Kruger, who later went on to write The Ring, is responsible for the script. Williamson, along with Wes Craven, is creatively responsible for the renowned success of the first two installments. Horror fans were also flocking towards a fresher wave of supernatural material such as The Blair Witch Project and Final Destination. Combine that with the overall silly tone that the film emits, and it’s not hard to conclude why Scream 3, of all the Scream films ranked, is the worst of its kind.
3. Scream 4
Out of all of the Scream films ranked, the most underrated film in the franchise is undoubtedly Scream 4. Overlooked and underappreciated, it was desperate to breathe life back into a franchise that went 11 years without a new addition. Scream pioneers Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson also made their long-awaited return. Along with several key members of the original cast. Nevertheless, the time jump is surely noticeable. Sidney is now a self-help author and Dewey and Gale are working through their troubled marriage. Perhaps the time gap between Scream 3 and Scream 4 is responsible for the considerable amount of criticism and its reasoning for being the lowest-grossing installment. Still, it’s a hidden gem in the successful slasher spectacle. Say that three times fast.
Despite its poor earnings, the 2011 meta slasher managed to garner a score of 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a 6.1/10 on IMDb. Both of those scores are higher than Scream 3’s rating. Another possible reason Scream 4 saw below-average success could be that by 2011, the horror genre had surpassed the slasher sub-genre in favor of found-footage supernatural horror like the Paranormal Activity franchise. Even so, Scream 4 left a memorable mark on a highly successful franchise.
Of course, there would be no success in the Scream franchise without the original Scream. The ‘96 slasher completely reinvented the horror genre – from its enticing opening sequence to its memorable blend of fear and humor. In the film’s opening scene, Casey is shown answering the phone and speaking to a flirty unknown caller. The interaction eventually turns dark as the caller begins to press her about horror movies. The scene ends with Casey being murdered by the masked caller, later known as Ghostface.
The film also introduces Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the franchise’s main protagonist and one of horror’s favorite final girls. Sidney is living a life of agony after the murder of her mother just a year prior. The first installment of the franchise met critical acclaim and financial success as the highest-grossing slasher film until David Gordon Green’s Halloween. Part of the reason Scream became so widely beloved was its ability to create an actual story of terror while poking fun at traditional slasher films like Halloween and Friday the 13th.
Critics and audiences alike favored the film as it carries a 79% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3/10 score on IMDb. Over two decades later, the film is still considered a game-changing force in a genre that desperately needed a twist.
1. Scream 2
You can’t beat the original.. unless you’re Scream 2. Despite many horror sequels facing criticism, Scream 2 takes a stab at continuing the story. This includes gorier kills and more risks. One of the reasons Scream 2 was deemed such a success was because it was released just one year after the original. This helped to minimize a large gap between films. Director and horror-genius Wes Craven, along with writer Kevin Williamson, once again teamed up to satisfy fans of the slasher sub-genre. Combine all of this with the fact that the majority of the original’s cast returned and the proof is in the pudding.
The sequel also dives more into Sidney Prescott’s life after the death of her mother and friends. The film even features Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) in a larger role. Sidney is now enrolled in college and trying to create a new start for herself. Several key characters are also introduced, such as Debbie Salt, a news journalist, and Mickey. Mickey is the best friend of Sidney’s new boyfriend, Derek. This film gives Campbell a chance to shine and further establish herself as a resilient heroine.
Critical praise further declared Scream 2 as the “perfect sequel” with an 81% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Scream 2 echoes its predecessor with a steady balance of black comedy that satirizes slasher cliches. The introduction of new villains behind the “Ghostface” persona also helps to keep the franchise fresh. As such, Scream 2 keeps up with Scream‘s momentum and “whodunit” tone. This is why Scream 2, out of all of the Scream films ranked, sits at the very top.
It will be interesting to see where Scream lands on this list when it premieres in theaters in January 2022.