Ranking the Scream Movies (Including the New One)

Ranking the Scream Movies (Including the New One)

With Scream VI hitting cinemas in Australia today, we thought we’d give you some spoiler-free context of where the film ranks among the other five in the…franchise. (That reference will make more sense when you see Scream VI).

The first Scream film made its debut in 1996, and we’re now 27 long years (shit, I feel really old) detached from Billy Loomis and Stu Macher’s rampage. Don’t worry, we’re not going to spoil Scream VI, but we will chuck a spoiler warning in for the other movies, just in case.

Ranking the Scream Movies (Including the New One)

Ranking the Scream movies

6. Scream 3 (2000)

Scream 3 is the least inspiring and entertaining of them all. It wasn’t all bad, it still gave us what we wanted from the slasher franchise. What it did do was show us just how women are being treated behind the scenes in Hollywood. In Scream 3, Ghostface targets the production of Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro, (which, if you’re unfamiliar is part of the in-universe film series that adapts the events of the Scream movies). Jamie Kennedy’s character, who died in Scream 2, shows up (via videotape) to remind everyone, audience included, of the “rules” of the slasher-movie trilogy — which are basically that anything can happen and anyone can die. A repetitious self-referential trope that can work (as Scream (5) & VI show us), but is lacklustre in edition number three.

5. Scream 4 (2011)

Scream 4 is divisive. Asking around the Gizmodo Australia office I was met with cries of “Justice for Scream 4” and “How dare you” when stating I’d be ranking this movie in fifth. Look, it’s not bad, well it is bad but that’s the point, it’s just not as good as the other Scream flicks ranked above it. The key to this movie is watching it in a more recent context. Released in 2011, obviously, social media was a big thing. Since then though, it’s gotten bigger than maybe anyone could have ever imagined. So now, watching a film about a killer who hopes to murder and lie their way to becoming internet famous seems shockingly plausible. Ten years ago? Maybe a little less so. Fame was still, at the time, a little less attainable than playing video games on Twitch, eating food on TikTok, or opening boxes on YouTube. Now, kids just want to be famous for doing nothing because so many of them have been able to do just that. Off-track a little, yes, but Scream 4 ranks low on the scale for me, despite having a female killer.

4. Scream 2 (1997)

Scream 2 is really a case of “if it worked so well the first time let’s milk it dry”. Billy Loomis’ mother? Check (when we’re talking about ideas, execution? …it’s a slasher, what do you expect?). Speaking of ideas, Scream 2 is a masterclass in sequels – bringing its self-awareness expertise front and centre to slap viewers but also give them nothing to really complain about, nor is it condescending. Gore galore helps this flick rank above the other two Scream movies, but as you’ll see it’s nostalgia and fresh eyes that really keep number two from appearing higher. It draws you in from the opening and it’s just absurd and bloody (sorry) good fun.

3. Scream VI (2023)

The latest instalment to the Scream franchise ranks third – not because it’s not good. The plot wasn’t the best, but when are you ever watching a Scream movie for the plot? The kills were superb, the reintroduction of characters was a little more thought out than just “hey here we all are”, Jenna Ortega is exceptional and did I mention the kills were superb? While I don’t want to ruin this one for you, it’s worth noting that while still very much Scream, number six bucks the trend – in a way you’ll (hopefully) love. Head over here to read our spoiler-free review.

2. Scream (2022)

Coming in second place is the 2022 Scream which is really Scream 5 but they didn’t do that. Anyway. Scream 5 is fantastic. It’s fantastic because it was 11 years between drinks and came out at a time where millennials were desperate for nostalgia (hell, nostalgia is what kept us going during COVID). But it was the first Scream flick to layoff the over-sexualisation bullshit. It was a post-Weinstein whiff of coffee beans. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega gave us newer, more relatable heroines and the OGs came back to remind us all of the past. It also gave an accessible way for new slasher fans to enter the franchise. The best thing about Scream 5 is that it knows everything. I could go on for hours.

1. Scream (1996)

You can’t go past the OG. Scream signalled a revival of horror films and what Wes Craven did was so ground-breaking – he broke the rules and rewrote them and here we are, 27 years later, seeing them still remain so poignant. It’s funny, gore-filled, and for a lot of us, it was our first introduction to horror. While the storyline is nothing short of a standard slasher, it’s executed in the perfect way, with probably the best opening scene I have ever seen in a movie. No jump scare will ever hit me like it did watching Drew Barrymore for the first time in Scream. It was a plot that worked and continued to work, even in Craven’s legacy. It’s a masterclass and therefore deserves to rank as the best Scream (and one of the best ever) movies we’ve had the pleasure of watching.

Ranking all the Scream movies was a challenge – they’re all great in their own way. If you want to watch the previous five flicks before you see the sixth, watch them in chronological order. Scream 1, 2 & 3 can be found on Paramount+, Stan, Binge and Foxtel; Scream 4 is on Paramount+ and Stan; and Scream 5 is on Paramount+, Binge and Foxtel. Scream VI is out in cinemas today.

If you’re wondering why we didn’t include the Scream TV series it’s because that wasn’t good.