Ranking Every Scream Movie
To celebrate the release of Scream 6, I’ve decided to rate and review all six Scream movies. Amongst Scream fans there is no general consensus for this sort of ranking, and my ordering is a little different from the other rankings that I’ve seen. Naturally there will be spoilers, so you have been warned. I also use my own ranking scale for ranking movies and you can see my criteria for each grade here.
#6 Scream 3 (2000) – Rating 3/10
Scream 3 is a bit of odd-one-out in the Scream franchise. It leans into comedy more than other Scream movies but when you watch it again after the #MeToo movement it feels very prescient. The Weinstein logo at the beginning stands out like a sore thumb watching this film about the abuse of young women at the heart of Hollywood. There are plenty of parallels between film and reality here as much of the action takes place on the set of Stab 3. At other times the meta-commentary about trilogies falls flat and is a retread of Scream 2 which took aim at sequels.
Randy If you find yourself dealing with an unexpected back story and a preponderance of exposition, then the sequel rules DO NOT apply.
There are strong performances from all the returning actors and I was glad to see Sidney get a happy ending and some character development where she is able to overcome her fears. There is also a very fun cameo by Carrie Fisher. Overall, Scream 3 isn’t a terrible movie, but something has to come last. Scream 3 suffers from being produced soon after the Columbine tragedy which shifted the film towards being more of a horror-comedy. This leaves you with a Scream movie that doesn’t deliver the violence and shocking kills that you want from a Scream movie. Ghostface’s motivations and backstory also ends up being a bit too convoluted. I’m still going to give Scream 3 a 3/10 but it does come last in my Scream movie rankings.
#5 Scream 6 (2023) – Rating 3/10
The newest entry in the Scream franchise freshens things up by moving the action to New York. The survivors of the last movie have become the “core four” and I really enjoyed their group dynamic together. I was definitely rooting for them to survive, and halfway through Scream 6 it looked like Ghostface would get to kill a number of familiar faces. The first half of Scream 6 is a lot of fun and there are some fantastic kills. However, despite there being three Ghostfaces, it felt like no-one actually died in the second half of the movie. I think if the second half had lived up to the first half, Scream 6 would have finished much higher up my rankings.
Jason We have to finish the movie.
Ghostface Who gives a fuck about movies!
Perhaps the biggest highlight of this movie is the huge amount of call backs and references to all of the other Scream movies. There might be no Sidney Prescott but this is a fun walk through memory lane for those of us who have watched all the other Scream movies over and over again. The shrine to Ghostface and the Stab movies especially was a real delight for long-time fans. All in all, this is a solid Scream film, but not one that stands out from the others. I’ve ranked it above Scream 3 in part because the kills are far superior, with the best coming during a fun twist opening which is my favourite part of the movie.
#4 Scream (2022) – Rating 3/10
The fifth Scream movie ditched the tried and tested naming convention as part of a soft reboot. It introduce a new generation of characters, but it does follow the same formula as the other Scream movies. We get lots of meta-takes on reboots and toxic fan culture alongside the usual horror fare. Like Scream 3 and Scream 6, this was a fun movie with some good scenes, even if the quality doesn’t hold up all way through the movie. I thought Ghostface had pretty silly motives and the critiques of fandom didn’t really work for me. Scream gets the same grade as those other movies, but I’ve put it above them in fourth place because of one incredible scene. Seeing Ghostface brutally slaughter Dewey was gut-wrenching, and it stands out as one of the most memorable kills in the entire franchise.
Dewey Do you have a gun?
Sidney I’m Sidney fucking Prescott, of course I have a gun.
#3 Scream 4 (2011) – Rating 5/10
As I said earlier, there is no general consensus on ranking Scream movies. Scream 4 is often put at the bottom of the rankings which I disagree with. This was the first new Scream movie for 11 years and the film had plenty of ammunition for the satire. As the first Scream movie in a new era the commentary on remaking old films was a lot of fun. The biggest theme of this one is social media and fame in this online era. In a similar way to Scream 3 and the #MeToo movement, this feels like it was a little ahead of it’s time. Whilst social media was of course a thing at that time, it has only become a bigger part of our lives, which means Scream 4 feels even more relevant today than it did in 2011.
Sidney You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don’t fuck with the original!
Sidney, Dewey and Gale are all great but what I like about this one is that we see them paired with new characters who grew up with the Stab franchise. Speaking of the Stab franchise I have to mention the very meta opening. It does divide opinion but personally I love it and it was one of a number of moments I adore. My favourite Ghostface moment is when he is on the phone taunting Kirby whilst hiding in a cupboard. It’s an example of how this film manages to balance the meta fun with tension and surprise twists. As well as a great opening Scream 4 also has my favourite ending in the franchise. The final shot shows the media outside the hospital praising Jill as “an American hero, right out of the movies”, oblivious to the truth of what really happened. This is a movie that keeps me entertained from start to finish and easily earns a rating of 5/10.
#2 Scream 2 (1997) – Rating 5/10
The original Scream is famous for subverting all the tired clichés of the horror genre but it couldn’t resist the allure of making a sequel. Scream 2 isn’t shy about reminding you that sequels are never as good as the original. Whilst I agree that Scream 2 does fall short of the original, it’s still a very good sequel. Following the rules of a sequel, there are more kills and they are bigger and bloodier than in the original. The most memorable kills take place at a screening of the film Stab, which was a brilliant way to open Scream 2. I also love how tense Scream 2 is. Whether it’s Sidney and Hallie climbing over an unconscious Ghostface, Cici desperately trying to get a phone signal, or Gale trying to scream through a soundproof window this is a movie dripping with tension. Later movies definitely lost some of that tension since you know that characters like Sidney are guaranteed to survive, but Scream 2 manages to keep you on the edge of your seat through out.
Randy Stab 2? Who would wanna do that? Sequels suck! Oh please, please! By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!
The meta-commentary about sequels and the impact of violence in the media on serial killers is another highlight. Whereas the original Scream poked fun at other horror movies, Scream 2 is able to have even more fun by making fun of itself. What makes it work is that the humour never gets in the way of the horror. However there are a couple of issues that stop Scream 2 getting a much higher grade. I loved the return of characters like Sidney, Randy, Gale and Dewey but I failed to connect with or care about any of the new characters. I also found the killers’ motives to be pretty stupid which meant the climactic unmasking was pretty underwhelming. These flaws stop an otherwise great sequel getting a higher grade, but it’s a fun follow-up to the original and my second favourite film in the series.
#1 Scream (1996) – Rating 8/10
Finally at number one, we have the original. This shouldn’t be any real surprise and it tops most people’s rankings. The intro is sublime, the young cast are excellent and Ghostface is terrifying. The self-aware nature of this meta-horror was refreshing at a time when slashers were getting very tired and Scream sparked the genre back into life. It was soon imitated, emulated and parodied but never beaten. I like all of the Scream movies, which is a excellent record for a long-running franchise, but Scream is the one that I love, which is why it gets an 8/10 and has to be number one in my rankings.
Tatum No, please don’t kill me, Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!