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. 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’re taking a look at all four of the Scream movies, from Scream (1996) to Scream 4 (2011) to judge which of the franchise’s instalments is the best and, first, which is the worst.
Why don’t you let us know your order in the comments at the end of this article? And be sure to tweet us.
4. 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 counselor 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.
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3. Scream 2 (1997)
Scraping just ahead of its follow-up is the middle entry in the original Scream Trilogy, Scream 2 (1997).
Taking place in the college years of the survivors of the Woodsboro murders, Scream 2 somehow manages to feel more like a generic high school movie than the first film did.
Although Scream 2 would introduce the Stab series to the Scream universe, whilst also introducing some great new characters to the franchise and crafting some genuinely brilliant scenes – notably an excellent sequence in a recording studio – it ultimately failed to pass, or even reach, the bar that Scream had set. Filled with terrible dialogue and wooden acting, and featuring a lame twist to rival that of Scream 3, Scream 2 didn’t do much to make the series’ third instalment a must-watch – it even ruined Randy!
Released less than a year after its predecessor, Scream 2 can be ever so slightly excused for its lack of class and nuance given the extraordinarily quick turnaround.