All 5 of the Scream Movies Ranked

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An unbelievable 26 years have passed since the opening installment in the Scream franchise was released. The iconic slasher franchise with a perpetual whodunnit element has since spawned a further four movies and a television series (which is fairly good, incidentally). The latest movie – aptly titled Scream – having been released at the start of 2022.

That movie is now available to watch at home, so it seems like the perfect time to establish which is the greatest of them all by ranking them.

Prefer your horror villain masks fleshy rather than rubbery? Then check out our ranking of every Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.

5. Scream 3 (2000)

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By far the weakest offering in the gore-filled horror franchise, Scream 3 was directed by Wes Craven and stars regulars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette.

Scream Movies Scream 3

Taking place three years after Scream 2, it starts with Sidney Prescott in self-imposed isolation following the events of the previous two movies. However, she’s drawn to Hollywood after a new Ghostface begins killing the cast of Stab 3 – the movie-within-a-movie about Sidney’s own experiences with the killer.

This just isn’t very good. Sure, it has one of the most surprising twists in the franchise, but it’s as formulaic as the movies the previous two Scream offerings had mocked with reckless abandon. It’s mildly funny and scary at times, but it falls a bit flat in general – thanks to a plethora of extremely thinly-developed characters.

4. Scream 4 (2011)

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The movies start to get good now, but the weakest of the remaining bunch is Scream 4. Wes Craven returned to direct his final Scream movie before his tragic 2015 passing, as did the core cast of the previous movies.

It takes place on the fifteenth anniversary of the events of the first Scream movie and sees Sidney Prescott returning to Woodsboro after ten years away. There, Ghostface once again goes on a killing spree, picking off students from Woodsboro High.

Scream Movies Scream 4

Going back to the meta humor and inventive kills of the first two movies, this was a marked improvement on Scream 3 – and while you can’t say this was the Scream franchise back to its best, it’s still a more than worthwhile installment with an exciting young cast. Since it was released, Scream 4 has garnered praise for foreshadowing the effects of social media on the young people of today, as well as the extreme lengths some of them are prepared to go to in order to achieve internet fame.

3. Scream (2022)

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The latest installment in the franchise, Scream – or Scream 5 as some people prefer to call it  – was directed by the duo of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (making it the only movie in the franchise to not be directed by Wes Craven).

The fifth Scream takes place twenty-five years after the original murders, as yet another Ghostface appears in Woodsboro and begins targeting a group of teenagers – all of whom are somehow linked to the original killings.

Scream Movies Scream 2022

This movie sees the Scream franchise getting back to its best. It succeeds in bringing back the meta element of the franchise in emphatic fashion and it’s great to see the core cast of the original back together after all these years – the chemistry is definitely still there! The humor is irreverent and the gore is as messy as ever –  and, where numerous others have failed, it sets the standard for revamping horror franchises in much the same way Halloween did back in 2018.

2. Scream 2 (1997)

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Taking place two years after the first movie (in spite of it being released only one year later), it again follows the character of Sidney Prescott – along with her fellow survivors of the Woodsboro massacre – at the fictional Windsor College in Ohio. There, they find themselves being targeted by a copycat killer using the guise of Ghostface, while the first movie-within-a-movie based on the Scream killings – Stab – plays in theatres.

Scream Movies Scream 2

This is genuinely almost as good as the first movie – but not quite (although it’s definitely more gory). It brilliantly pokes fun at the very concept of horror sequels, whilst successfully avoiding being terrible like the majority of them. It’s sharp, funny and occasionally very scary. The only thing that really sees it falling short of its predecessor is that it obviously lacks the same level of originality – and Randy’s untimely death is arguably the most devastating moment in the entire franchise.

1. Scream (1996)

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Directed by Wes Craven at his brilliant best, Scream starred a young ensemble cast that’s now considered iconic in the world of horror: the wonderful Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan and Drew Barrymore.

Inspired by the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper, Scream follows the then-high school student Sidney Prescott in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California, as she becomes the target of a mysterious killer in a Halloween costume – the killer we now know as the horror icon Ghostface.

Scream Movies Scream 1996

Considered unique at its time of release for featuring characters who were aware of real-world horror movies and who openly discussed the clichés that the movie attempted to avoid and disestablish, Scream is rightly credited with the resurgence of the slasher genre. It’s brilliantly meta, very funny and pretty damn terrifying. Simply put, it’s one of the finest horror movies ever made and is now a bona fide classic.

Now that you’re finished with this article, why not check out our lists of the best Wes Craven movies and the best John Carpenter movies?

Kevin Stewart

Born and based in the U.K., Kevin has been writing about popular culture (entertainment and sport) since 2013. He's produced content for the likes of NBC SYFY, FourFourTwo, Screen Rant, Digital Spy, College Humor, WhatCulture and Paste Magazine. He's also worked as an editor for a number of those platforms, managing up to 45 writers at a time. A huge fan of movies (especially horror, superhero stuff and anything 1980s), Kevin loves keeping fit, and he supports Tottenham Hotspur FC for his sins.