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Ranking the “Scream” Movies from Best to Worst

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers relating to the Scream movie franchise.

The “Scream” franchise is an infamous horror series that began in 1996. The movies follow the final girl Sidney Prescott and her friends as they try to outrun Ghostface, a serial killer in Woodsboro. The films continue to test the characters’ lives while continuously raising the stakes. With each film lies criticism, but simultaneously memorable and phenomenal moments. While all movies have made a lasting impression, there are arguable standouts. 

  1. “Scream” (1996)

To no surprise, the original “Scream” will always reign supreme. With campy actions and the unforgettable opening scene, the first “Scream” has made itself a legacy. This film stars Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott as she and her friends try to fight off Ghostface – the local serial killer of Woodsboro, California. The “Scream” movies were one of the first major thrillers to introduce two perpetrators, with this film’s villains being Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis and his best friend Stu Macher. The opening scene also provides the iconic one-liner, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” – which is still referenced to this day. If that is not legacy, then I do not know what is.

  1. “Scream 6” (2023)

The most recent “Scream” exceeded all expectations. Released March 6, this is the first film in the series without Neve Campbell. Nonetheless, the final girl crown was passed onto the sister duo Tara and Samantha Carpenter. This addition to the franchise revolves around the “core four” who take on Ghostface in New York City during Halloween. “Scream 6” brought the gore and the tension that placed it in spot number two on my ranking.  

  1. “Scream 5” (2022)

“Scream 5” marks the first film without the creativity of Wes Craven. This is also the introduction of the Carpenter sisters and explores the idea of being the child of a serial killer. In past “Scream” movies, this was the motivator from some of the Ghostsfaces. In this case, though, it is revealed that Samantha Carpenter is the daughter of Billy Lumis. Overall, this particular plotline felt a bit overdone compared to other movies. The idea of the “serial killer genes” is also alluded to, which is hard to take seriously. With that said, the “core four” are so exciting to witness and have great character development. It also marks the death of an original character – leaving “Scream” fans heartbroken and in tears. 

  1. “Scream 4” (2011)

“Scream 4” is the first Scream movie to have a female Ghostface. This also has the longest introduction scene at over 10 minutes. This introduction is also incredibly “meta” in that the “scene within a scene” phenomenon keeps going. With 11 whole years between the 3rd and 4th “Scream,” there was understandable concern that this series did not need to be continued. However, “Scream 4” is remarkable. There are some plots that drag on, but overall this film is solid. The motivation for Ghostface is practical and much more sensible compared to other justifications. 

  1. “Scream 2” (1997)

This might be controversial, but “Scream 2” is not a favorite of mine. The plot is convoluted, and while the duo Ghostface reveal was interesting, it did not hold up compared to other “Scream” movies. Set in college, Sidney Prescott finds herself in a new relationship and her past follows her every move. Selfishly, I believe Randy should have become a “Scream” staple. The motivation is also a bit off. Billy Lumis’ mother being a part of the dynamic duo was entertaining, but the “film geek turned psycho” trope is not for me.

  1. “Scream 3” (2000)

Every ranking needs a “worst” and unfortunately, “Scream 3” did not live up to expectations. The plot was everywhere but in the movie. It is rumored the script suffered multiple leaks, which explains the odd choice for Ghostface. The motivation is too similar to past films, with the inclusion that Roman is also a director. The voice-changer was also a unique choice. A favorite plot hole is when Patrick Dempsey randomly disappears for a third of the movie with no explanation. Him being Ghostface could have worked, but the writers went in a completely different direction. While this movie is full of red herrings, there are still memorable moments. Dewy proposing to Gale is a personal favorite of mine.

The “Scream” franchise is an infamous horror movie series for a reason. While these are how I’d rank them, the only way to find your standouts is by watching them! 

My name is Rachel and I am a sophomore studying at MSU. I am majoring in psychology with a minor in child development. I love to write and am creating interested in trends, music, movies, and college life.