By George Bate & Josh Reilly B.
Wes Craven’s meta-slasher series Scream has captivated audiences for 27 years now, with anticipation for the upcoming sixth installment ramping up ahead of its March 10th release date. Ahead of the new Ghostface flick, we decided to rank the five films of the Scream franchise from worst to best.
5. Scream 4
Scream 4 is by no means a bad movie, but has to take the crown as the worst in the iconic horror series. At this point in the franchise, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson seemed to struggle somewhat with making their once hip and trendy slasher relevant for contemporary audiences. Although the film does intelligently predict the damaging effects of social media and the pursuit of internet fame, Scream 4 doesn’t have the razor sharp wit or meta-awareness of the series’ other installments. That being said, Scream 4 is a solid slasher and the murder mystery plays out fairly well.
4. Scream 3
Scream 3 has gotten a bad wrap over the years, but its take on the sleazy underbelly of Hollywood is the reason to watch this movie. Probably the funniest and least scary installment of the franchise, Scream 3 has plenty to say about the behind the scenes drama of Hollywood movies and also packs some great twists and turns.
3. Scream (2022)
Scream (2022) is to the original Scream what Star Wars: The Force Awakens is to the original Star Wars. The first Scream movie without Wes Craven at the helm had a lot to live up to, and thankfully delivered in a number of key areas. Scream (2022) strikes a healthy balance between a new crop of teens and the core trio of legacy characters, in a vein similar to other requels like Terminator: Dark Fate. The mystery itself is unpredictable to the very end, and the way in which the killers’ motives tap into toxic fandom in a manner not dissimilar from some viewers’ reaction to The Last Jedi is both hilarious and poignant.
2. Scream 2
Scream 2 is an excellent horror sequel, one that gets shockingly close to surpassing the original film. Wes Craven had a big task at his hands given the shock and awe caused by the first Scream movie, but was able to manage the pressure to deliver a more polished and more violent follow-up. The college setting marks a stark change from the first film, and each of the original characters have strong arcs in a film that further established Sidney Campbell, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley as horror movie icons. Although the mystery itself plays out somewhat predictably compared to other installments and the acting gets a little too tongue-in-cheek at times, Scream 2 is a confident and stylish slasher.
Of course, the original Scream tops this list. The movie that reinvented the slasher genre and provided a foundation for horror cinema for years to come, Scream remains one of the best horror movies of all time. Wes Craven, coming off the meta slasher New Nightmare, delivered a film that completely deconstructed the slasher genre with plenty of wit to spare. The love for horror cinema is palpable here and the various in-jokes and self-aware characters make for such an enjoyable experience, especially for horror connoisseurs. The mystery as to who is the Ghostface killer is terrific and keeps you guessing until the film’s dramatic final act. Scream is a clever and scary slasher film that continues to endure the test of time.
Scream VI is in theaters March 10, 2023.