Slashing its way onto the big screen back in 1996, Wes Craven’s Scream was instantly a hit. The film’s clever, on the nose, self-referential parodying of horror movies, as well as the debut of one of the most iconic horror villains of all time, Ghostface, proved to be the catalyst for a revitalisation of horror, a film genre that had become tiresome to audiences following a boom in popularity in the 1980s.
The success of the film, both critically and at the box office, allowed for an entire Scream franchise, with three sequels released across the next decade and a half ahead of creator Wes Craven’s death in 2015, and a few more arriving in 2022 and 2023. Although Scream may not be quite as famous as other horror franchises such as Friday the 13th, Halloween or Craven’s own A Nightmare on Elm Street, its importance to the genre and effect on popular culture remains a vital part of the journey of Hollywood horror cinema.
That’s why, in this edition of Ranked, we at The Film Magazine are taking a look at all six of the Scream movies, from Scream (1996) to Scream VI (2023) to judge which of the franchise’s instalments is the best and, first, which is the worst. These are the Scream Movies Ranked.
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6. Scream 3 (2000)
The third instalment of the Scream franchise put an end to the series for upwards of a decade, and there’s no more obvious indictment of a film’s quality than that.
Taking place a few years after the events of the first two movies, Scream 3 portrays each surviving member of the gang as exactly where they should be – Cotton Weary is a talk show host, Sidney is a crisis counsellor for women, and Gale Weathers is a famous journalist, although it does make Sidney’s role as an actress in Scream 2 virtually irrelevant. In fact, the film is packed with good ideas…
It takes place around the filming of Stab 3 (the film within a film, based on the Woodsboro murders of Scream 1) and is set in Hollywood, so there is a lot of potential not only for some unique horror sequences but for the self-referential humour that Scream at one time developed a reputation for. Sadly, much of this wasted due to a messy structure, a terrible subplot involving the ghost of Sidney’s mother, and a nonsensical twist, all of which come together to help you forget some of this film’s true high points – most notably the scenes that take place on the set of Stab 3.
Recommended for you: Nightmare on Elm Street Films Ranked
5. Scream VI (2023)
The most recent entry into the Scream franchise, Scream VI (2023), follows the newly christened “Core Four” as they have to do battle with Ghostface yet again… but this time at college! If that sounds familiar it is because that is exactly what Scream 2 did twenty-five years ago.
Not to worry though, Scream VI is filled with new and refreshing ideas such as psycho film students (Scream 4), a new character brought into the fold only to sit in the corner adding nothing to the film but window dressing and a slight suspicion (Scream 2), a terrible twist (too many to count), and of course a scene where a film fanatic tells us the rules of the movie (every single Scream movie ever made). The difference is, Scream VI thinks it is so clever when really it is nothing but franchise cannon fodder.
Whereas Scream (2022) was a clever critique of Hollywood’s current obsession with remakes and reboots, Scream VI simply acknowledges its own position as a “franchise” but never does anything to spin it on its head or to even bother satirising it. Instead, the movie claims that as a sequel it will be bigger and better: we should expect the opposite from the last movie and for legacy characters to be killed off. Yet, the film never even tries to live up to or make fun of any of these expectations. It isn’t clever or funny, it is just yet another disappointing sequel from Hollywood.