Zach’s Sunday Slashers: The “Scream” franchise ranked from worst to best.

The franchise never lived up to the original, but it’s hard to call any of them ‘bad.’


Ghostface returns in the 2022 “Scream” reboot/sequel in one of the most violent and brutal incarnations of the character the series has ever seen. The series has had its ups and downs overall in terms of critical and fan reception, but the new ‘requel’ film has proven to be generally well-received. (Paramount Pictures)

Zachary Cimaglio, Copy Editor

What’s your favorite scary movie? I’m not sure I could easily answer that myself, but my favorite horror franchise of all time is easily Wes Craven’s “Scream” series. 

With the release of 2022’s “Scream” reboot-slash-sequel, (otherwise known as a “requel”) on Paramount Plus, it seemed like a good time to revisit the franchise that is so near and dear to me. Surprisingly, the series overall is one of the more consistent ones in terms of quality.

Of course, I can’t forget about the “Scream” TV show that aired on MTV, but considering it has a separate continuity from the movies, and almost no affiliation with series creator Wes Craven, I opted not to include it. With that out of the way, I’m going to take a “Stab” at ranking each film from worst to best.


Number 5: “Scream 3”

Released a whole three years after 1997’s “Scream 2”, the story in “Scream 3” revolves around the notorious killer Ghostface appearing on the set of an in-universe slasher film being made depicting the events of the previous two “Scream” movies. The film sees Neve Campbell reprise her role as series staple protagonist Sidney Prescott, who managed to survive Ghostface’s previous two appearances. 

The film’s premise and setting does provide some potential for creative storytelling and a very meta take on the Hollywood film industry (its opening scene was so iconic that it was later parodied in “Scary Movie” the same year). However, the rushed and heavily rewritten script along with production issues that plagued the set – much like Ghostface himself in the movie’s own story – made the film’s overall plot convoluted and nonsensical. 

The killer reveal at the end is probably the worst in the series too, as it retconned important details about Sidney’s past by introducing a secret relative of hers with an extremely confusing motive. Unlike the rest of the series which all featured two separate killers, “Scream 3” underwent rewrites that cut one of them out of the story without doing any reshoots, causing some logical inconsistencies like his ability to somehow be in two places at once despite being only one person.

Number 4: “Scream 4”

“Scream 4” is not necessarily a bad film, so the fact that it’s still so high on this list says a lot about this franchise and its overall quality. It has some seriously brutal and gory kills, solid special effects and some clever commentary on the state of the very franchise it is a part of, even poking fun at the original film at some points.

The story revolves around Sidney Prescott returning to the town of Woodsboro to promote her book chronicling her life as a three-time survivor of Ghostface. Of course, the killing starts again before long and she finds herself amid yet another mass murder spree by the masked killer who films all of their murders in an attempt to gain notoriety throughout the town. 

This movie does a lot of the same things that “Scream” (2022) would do better 11 years later, making snide commentary on the state of horror sequels and their fanatic fans. This commentary doesn’t do many favors for it though, as the killers’ motives are practically the exact same as the original film without any of the clever writing that made the original work.

Number 3: “Scream” (2022)


Despite what the title may imply, 2022’s “Scream” is not a remake or full reboot, but is in fact yet another direct sequel. The movie does mention events from all four of its preceding entries but the original “Scream” is the one it relies on the most heavily. 

The plot revolves around a brand new set of protagonists; two sisters who end up as the next targets of Ghostface in a string of murders along with their teenage friends. The movie sets the stage early as one of the darkest in the franchise with much of the darkly comedic undertones put to the wayside in favor of some of the most gruesome and gory kills the series has ever seen. 

In fact, the movie’s overall brutality and genuine scares are the only reason why it isn’t lower on this list as some of the writing is very sloppy and relies heavily on callbacks to the original film. A good portion of its runtime is dedicated to the reintroduction of fan favorite characters Sidney Prescott, sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who are all handled surprisingly well.

Number 2: “Scream 2”


I actually had a hard time placing this one since I am a big fan of the 2022 film and I am likely to regret this placement later on after another rewatch, but I do think “Scream 2” is an underrated film regardless. It might not be as clever as the first film in terms of writing but it is still one of the better slasher movie sequels of any major franchise. 

“Scream 2” is a worthy sequel in its own right as it features some of the series’ best kills and expands the plotlines from the first movie in perfectly logical ways. The plot involves Ghostface appearing to haunt Sidney once again on a college campus where she is trying to move on from her trauma after her last encounter with the killer.

The film does lose some merit in its final act as many of the characters are saved either by sheer luck or slightly lazy writing and the killer reveal is less than stellar. However, it does feature Randy Meeks for the second time, my favorite “Scream” character played by Jamie Kennedy.

Number 1: “Scream” (1996)


Is it completely cliche and predictable to put the original at the number one spot? Yes. Does this movie deserve all the praise it gets for being a groundbreaking cinematic effort to subvert the tropes of modern slasher movies with witty references and self aware humor while retaining the elements that make the genre so popular? Yes! . 

The film depicts a group of high school students (the likes of which include Matthew Lillard and Jamie Kennedy) who end up caught in the middle of a mass murder spree by a killer wearing a Halloween mask. In a unique twist on the genre that would set the tone for the franchise going forward, the characters in the film are aware of popular horror movie tropes, using them as a basis for how to survive when they discover that they are now living one out in real life.

The twist at the end after the killer is unmasked boasts some of my favorite lines of dialogue of all time, and even made me laugh at a few points since the absurdity of the scene combined with the talent of the cast involved made it an incredibly entertaining watch from start to finish. Overall, “Scream” is one of my favorite films of all time, and is the perfect kind of movie to watch with friends on the couch late at night.

The “Scream” franchise is sure to continue with further sequels as rumors of another film in 2023 abound, and I am eager to see what effect that might have on my ranking here. I love this series to death, and I would love to see what kinds of twists future writers and directors might have to show audiences in the future. 

As Randy Meeks once said in “Scream 2”, “Never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.”