The List of Every Scream Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

The List of Every Scream Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best
Image credit: Legion-Media

The ups and downs of Scream.

5. Scream 3 (2000)

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The third part of the Scream trilogy is considered the least successful of all, and with good reason. For one, the project's screenwriter Kevin Williamson dropped out and delivered only a rough draft for the movie. Newcomer Ehren Kruger took his place, only to be replaced by Laeta Kalogridis. The writing turmoil upset the film's delicate balance between the scary and the funny: its emphasis shifted to black comedy and farce, while the murders appeared as mere sight gags.

In addition, the series' major star Neve Campbell was only available for three weeks of shooting. That's why Dewey and Gale are doing the investigation for most of the time, and Sidney is in the background.

Nevertheless, the film also featured some successful innovations. The action was moved from Woodsboro to the Hollywood set of Stab 3, which opened up space for some biting satire on the film industry. In particular, the film touches upon the subject of sexual harassment — which is ironic since the original Scream movies were produced entirely with the Weinstein brothers' money.

Overall, Scream 3 is a great comedy and a pretty good detective movie — but it's a rather bad horror film.

4. Scream 4 (2011)

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The three Scream movies, released in succession, not only revived the fashion for slashers but also inspired a whole generation of horror filmmakers to create their own Scream-like projects — with varying degrees of success. However, at the turn of the new millennium, the subgenre was hit by yet another crisis. It would seem that Sidney Prescott's story was doomed to remain an artifact of the 1990s.

And then, ten years after the original series, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson teamed up again to shoot another Scream movie.

Contrary to fans' fears, the new movie was brilliant in that it raised the bar for self-conscious mockery. It opens with Stab 7 characters watching a scene from Stab 6.

"It's been done to death, the whole self-aware, postmodern meta-shit," one of the characters complains — and gets stabbed in her stomach. Gale Weathers, the author of the books on which the Stab movies are based, is having a creativity crisis: "I have no fucking idea what to write!" But fortunately, the Woodsboro murders resume, leading to a new confrontation between the Ghostface Killer and the Scream team.

Once again, the movie offers the same cinephile game of nods and winks to "all those who know," but this time complete with modern gadgets.

A nice bonus is the cast of rising stars — from Rory Culkin and Hayden Panettiere to Emma Roberts, who proved to be the scream queen of our time.

3. Scream (2022)

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Despite its obvious merits, the fifth Scream didn't cause a stir and received mixed critical reviews. In 2012, Kevin Williamson said he wouldn't write another script; in 2015, Wes Craven died; and in 2017, the series' producer Harvey Weinstein turned into a monster scarier than any of his horror films. In ten years' downtime, horror has changed drastically, and all attempts to reboot classic slashers have failed.

But loyal fans believed, and their hopes were not in vain. The talented filmmakers at Radio Silence, who created the hit horror comedy Ready or Not, have reproduced the old story in current realities while preserving its original spirit. The young characters don't pale in comparison to the beloved veterans, and their dialogue is still just as witty.

The 2022 Scream is a rare example of a sequel that has nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Scream 2 (1997)

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Obviously, it's hard for a sequel to compete with the iconic original. The movie's creators admit it through their favorite character, Randy, who famously claims that "sequels suck" and that "the entire horror genre was destroyed by sequels." And though Craven and Williamson's sequel didn't quite make the leap, it had definitely kept the bar high.

The second film went into production even before the first one left movie theaters. Scream's commercial success was so great, its creators didn't even have to sweet-talk actors into horror as they would just line up to star in the follow-up. The future Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar joined the main cast. Heather Graham, Luke Wilson, and Tori Spelling played the participants of the Woodsboro massacre in Stab. Liev Schreiber, whose character appeared in the first movie, now got a full-fledged role.

There was more blood and more bodies, and in addition to satirizing genre conventions, the movie now included discussions on the unenviable fate of black characters in horror films and the impact of screen violence on real life (the opening scene with Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett Smith is probably the most effective of the entire franchise).

Scream 2 may be considered one of the best sequels in world cinema, gaining acclaim both from fans and critics.

1. Scream (1996)

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The first Scream was a sensation that divided the history of horror filmmaking into before and after. Teenagers from the idyllic town of Woodsboro were well-versed in all the clichés of the horror genre but still fell prey to a masked maniac who proved to be as savvy as his victims.

Kevin Williamson's screenplay is a love letter to the 70s and 80s horror movies, inspired by the adventures of real-life criminal Danny Harold Rolling. The unknown writer's groundbreaking idea caught the attention of Dimension Films, a studio specializing in horror movies.

George Romero, Robert Rodriguez, and Sam Raimi were considered for the role of director — but were all turned down by Williamson who believed that they saw his movie as nothing more than black comedy. In the end, the production was helmed by Wes Craven, the forefather of rape and revenge films, who had once revolutionized the slasher genre with the Freddy Krueger story and then turned it on its head with the postmodern New Nightmare.

The original Scream, featuring numerous references and allusions to horror classics, stood out sharply from other teen slashers. Aimed at a more mature audience, it was admired by viewers for its subtle humor, unpredictable plot, and bloody murders.