Scream: Ranked!

Scream (2023)

Scream: Ranked!. By Jake Peffer.

When Scream premiered in 1996 it changed the horror genre as we knew it. This was a good and bad thing at the time as it paved the way for a plethora of movies throughout the late 90’s & early 2000’s that tried to their hardest to be Scream. Nonetheless, the movie went on to gain five sequels with the latest one coming out this year. Playing up the horror mixed with comedy angle and poking fun at horror tropes while paying homage to the movies that paved the way before Scream is what has always made this series so fun. 

While the series has definitely had its ups and downs I would go as far to say that their isn’t a bad movie in the series. There are a couple that don’t hit the same mark as others but as a whole, this is one of the most successful horror franchises in terms of quality. Now let’s look at each entry and rank them from worst to best in the series. Please note that this ranking will contain spoilers so if you haven’t seen all of them you may want to skip these rankings until you do.

5. Scream 3

Starting out the list is Scream 3 from 2000. This has always been my least favorite for a number of reasons, however it does have some good moments that still make it watchable. The story this time around just doesn’t feel as engaging as some of the others. There is a slew of new characters introduced however, outside of Parker Posey and Deon Richmond none of the others make much of an impact. It is nice to have the original three main characters back, and even getting to see Jamie Kennedy for a cameo. Despite the original three coming back Neve Campbell has a reduced role here as she was filming another project at the same time which is a shame because the movie could have benefited from more of her in it. 

Now for the two biggest issues with part three. One is the ridiculous plot device of a voice changer that somehow has every character in the movie’s voice on it and can be used at any moment to imitate whoever the movie needs it to at the time. Then there’s the Ghostface reveal. Deciding for it to be Roman, a character he isn’t in a large chunk of the movie, and then for him to be Sidney’s long lost brother is about as dumb as it gets. It is all so convoluted and just unnecessary that the ending to this movie is without question the worst in the series.

4. Scream 4

Next up we have Scream 4 from 2011. The best thing that can be said about part four is that it is a definitive step up from part three. Playing up the remake and reboot angle the movie takes jabs at the insane amount of horror remakes that we got throughout the 2000’s. This in a lot of ways tries to be a remake of the original including introducing a new cast of young characters that are all basically new versions of the original cast. Just like in part three however, essentially none of them are memorable other than Hayden Panettiere who is great as Kirby. We do get some pretty gruesome kills this time around and this one feels like it gets the most bloody. 

The original three actors are back once again and they are all fine. Wes Craven also returns to direct here with this being his final film. His direction helps take a somewhat forgettable movie and makes it better. While the finale with Sidney’s cousin Jill, played by Emma Roberts, being revealed to be one of two Ghostface’s feels like them playing it safe, it does come as a pretty nice surprise. One of the best moments of the entire movie is watching Emma Roberts beat herself up and make it look like she was attacked in the end. A worthy entry in the series but ultimately it leaves you wanting a bit more.

3. Scream 2

Coming out just one year after the original, Scream 2 is a worthy sequel that works more than it doesn’t. Despite script leaks and having to make major changes, the movie as a whole gets a lot right and still has a lot of fun. I do think the movie would have worked better had they stuck with the original script when it came to who the killers were. Mrs. Loomis was a nice surprise as one of the killers, however the character of Mickey screams (no pun intended) of a last-minute rewrite. His character disappears for almost forty five minutes before it’s revealed he’s one of the killers. It never feels right once he is revealed.

Jamie Kennedy steals the show and Liev Schreiber is a welcome addition to the cast as he’s not just on a TV like in the first movie. Neve Campbell is great as usual as Sidney, and this is probably Courtney Cox’s best performance in the series. There are some pacing issues as the run time here is right at two hours. It overstays its welcome but the parts that work are worthwhile. The opening with Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps is a welcome change of pace for the series as it’s the only one that doesn’t feel exactly the same as the others.

2. Scream (2022)

Scream 5 marks the first time in the series that Wes Craven is not involved as he passed away in 2015. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett takes over the directing duties and they would make Wes proud. They are in a way remaking the original but doing it as a nice continuation of the series, which the movie does poke fun at making everything extremely meta. The new kids introduced this time around are the first bunch that actually have something to them. Only maybe two are forgettable while the rest work well and feel like more than just new versions of the original cast. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega are the new leads this time around and they both give great performances. 

From the original cast David Arquette feels like he’s the one who gets the most to do while Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox are mostly sidelined. It is heartbreaking seeing Dewey finally meet his end but I appreciate the movie taking the risk of killing off a legacy character. The ending does play a little too close to the original and the reveal of the killers is pretty obvious considering everything that has been playing out beforehand. Despite a few missteps this felt like it got back to what made the original Scream so great.

1. Scream (1996)

It’s probably not much of a surprise that the original Scream is my number one choice. This movie just did so much for the horror genre and in general it’s just a really good movie. The opening sequence with Drew Barrymore was such a shock at the time as you never saw movies kill off a well-known actor within the opening of a movie and it is such a classic scene that is unforgettable. Wes Craven puts together his best movie since Nightmare on Elm Street and single-handedly kicks off a new era of horror. We were introduced to one of the greatest scream queens in Neve Campbell and the rest of the cast all works incredibly well together. Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard are still the best Ghostface’s and nobody has come close to them thus far. There is no denying that Scream is the best in the franchise and is one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

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