The Scream Franchise, Ranked!

Back in 1996, unique slasher Scream was released, bringing a fresh look at the horror genre and creating a whole new fan base – something for the ‘90s kids like me. The legendary Wes Craven directed, and as with most of his movies, it stars a strong female lead, Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell. The success behind the slasher story spawned a 4 movie franchise that introduced hilarious new characters, starred popular actors and even had cameos of characters from other movies. Ghostface has become one of the most popular horror icons in history, and, based off of his popularity, recently inspired a 2015 Scream television series with a slightly new look for the masked slasher.

Even though it’s been several years since the first movie came out, fans are still in love with the Scream franchise, the characters, and the famous Ghostface. Just like most franchises, the sequels don’t quite live up to the original; however, each has their purpose and memorable moments. On that note, let’s rank this beloved slasher series from lowest to highest!

Scream 3 (2000)

“Psychos can’t kill what they can’t find.”

For the third movie in the Scream franchise, Sidney has secluded herself away from everyone – people she loves as well as anyone who wishes to harm her. If no one can find her, no one can kill her, right? Unfortunately, her past catches up with her and she is forced to come back to the real world and face Ghostface all over again. Personally, this is my least favorite out of the franchise because I thought the story was weak compared to the others, the characters were boring, and the ending felt thrown together. It did have a lot of well-known actors in it, including Patrick Dempsey, Parker Posey, Carrie Fisher, and Jenny McCarthy. It also brought back the rules from the first two movies with a video from Randy (Jamie Kennedy) elaborating on them further:

  1. The killer must be superhuman, mere stabbing or shooting will not be enough to kill the killer.
  2. Anyone can die, including the main character.
  3. The past will come back to haunt someone.

Turns out the rules were spot on.

Scream 4 (2011)

“You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don’t fuck with the original!”

Eleven years after the third movie came out, Scream 4 intrigued horror fans everywhere with its new story. Sidney has been killer free for awhile, her book is selling well, and she seems to finally have her life together. That is until she arrives back home to promote her book and the killings begin to happen again. Ghostface is back! When the movie first came out, I had huge doubts about it. I mean, why make this after so long? I thought it would be horrible. Turns out I was wrong. Leave it to Wes Craven to bring in a whole new fan base yet again with a new story, new killers, and still bring back in the old characters from the past 3 movies. To appeal old fans and new fans alike, filmmakers brought in new, young, popular actresses, including Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes-Beech, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Britt Robertson, and more. This was Wes Craven’s last film and is one of the only franchises to have its main characters back for every single sequel – which is another reason everyone loves it so much. Such a fun addition to the Scream franchise!

Scream 2 (1997)

“It’s happening again, isn’t it?”

Two years after the first killings, Sidney and Randy are attending Windsor College and everything seems peachy keen. That is, however, until some of their local college peers are killed at a showing of Stab – a movie based off of their hometown killings. Ghostface is back and the kill count and bloodshed are greater this time! One of the great things about Scream 2 is that all of the original characters came back and were played by the same actors, which doesn’t always happen. Plus, the story was a great follow up from the original, the killers were perfect choices, and the one-liners were great. Beyond the original characters, it brought several new, fun roles with familiar faces such as Roseanne’s Laurie Metcalf, Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, Stand By Me’s Jerry O’Connell, Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson, House. M.D.’s Omar Epps, Collateral’s Jada Pinkett Smith, and Justified’s Timothy Olyphant in his first big leading role. Another fun fact is that Grindhouse’s Robert Rodriguez directed scenes of “Stab,” the movie-within-a-movie from Scream 2. Although I love the original just a little bit one more, the 2nd installment in the Scream franchise is a close one!

Scream (1996)

“What’s your favorite scary movie?”

Finally, the original movie where Ghostface all began! Just a year after her mother’s death, Sidney Prescott and her friends begin receiving prank phone calls – seemingly innocent calls asking horror related trivia and the famous line, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” It’s all fun and games until their classmates start dying around them, slaughtered by an unknown killer dressed in a long black robe and wearing a white ghost mask. But what is the motive behind the killings? As mentioned, it was directed by Wes Craven, written by Kevin Williamson and hosted a winning cast, starring Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Jamie Kennedy, Drew Barrymore, and Liev Schreiber. Scream had a budget of just over $15 million dollars and made over $100 million at the box office. This teen slasher has become one of the most popular horror movies because of the right mix of dark comedy, relatable references to older horror movies, lovable characters, and timeless one-liners. Plus, we learn the first rules of surviving a horror movie:

  1. You will never survive if you have sex.
  2. You will not survive if you drink or do drugs.
  3. You will not survive if you say, “I’ll be right back!”
  4. Everyone is a suspect.

Fun facts about this movie: Drew Barrymore was originally meant to play Sidney. However, her role as Casey threw people off and made audiences realize that no character was safe, despite who was playing them. Wes Craven discovered the Ghostface mask while searching for a filming location and had Dimension Films recreate one similar to the one he found. It won an MTV Award for best picture in 1997. The actual costume is called “Father Death” which is shown when Dewey brings the store bought costume into the police station. Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich worked together in The Craft (1996) which they said helped them build up their on-screen relationship. Also, the song “Red Right Hand” is played in all three sequels besides the fourth one making it a popular theme throughout the movies.


The Scream franchise may not be a favorite among all horror fans, but to some, it helped to grow their love for horror and specifically the slasher genre. These movies work because, unlike some other slasher films, they don’t take themselves seriously. It’s a fun story that was able to connect an original and three sequels, keep the main characters, and branch off the original story without making it too far-fetched. Now that I spent time breaking down each movie, I’m in the mood for a Scream marathon. How about you?







About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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