What else can be said about Scream that hasn’t been said already? Its one of the most well known horror franchises of all time and one of Wes Craven’s best films. If you’re any kind of horror fan the chances are you’ve seen at least the first film. Craven directed Scream right after he made New Nightmare (1994), which served as his initial dive into the meta horror genre, a genre that he would continue to explore with Scream and its 3 sequels. Like any franchise that spans decades, there are bound to be ups and downs. the Scream series is no exception. What follows are four films that are scary, inventive, funny, and all together fun to watch (most of the time).
Scream (1996) There’s a reason this film is responsible for kickstarting a pretty sizable horror boom in the mid-90s. Its really really good. This movie hit at exactly the right time with the perfect mix of behind the scenes talent. The plot is simple: a string of murders all surrounding a group of characters who are well aware of horror films and their tropes. While the “rules” for surviving a horror film might seem dated by today’s standards, it’s still essential viewing and a great start to this binge so strap in because we’re just getting started... Highlights: the opening scene with Drew Barrymore is one of the scariest and most iconic opening scenes in history, and no amount of time is going to change that
Scream 2 (1997) While the first film always seemed to have something a lot more sinister hiding beneath it, the second one forgoes that depth in favor of style over substance. Perhaps that’s just a result of any sequel. Scream 2 certainly boasts a bigger body count and elaborate death scenes (the marks of any horror movie sequel) but it seems that it’s often trapped under its predecessor. Highlights: the couple scenes that are shown from Stab, the horror franchise within the horror franchise, are hilarious and definitely a highlight of the entire series.
Scream 3 (2000) It’s safe to say that the first Scream film is the best. But after binging this series in its entirety it’s clear that this instalment is having the most fun. This time the action takes place in Hollywood, with the majority of our main characters found working on the set for the film Stab 3. This film feels different from the other two, maybe it’s the setting, maybe it’s the amazing cameo from the late Carrie Fisher, but this movie doesn’t get enough credit. Highlights: Parker Posey is amazing in every scene she’s in but Neve Campbell is a force to be reckoned with, and the grueling final act cements her as one of the all time greatest final girls.
Scream 4 (2011) By far the hardest part of this binge is starting Scream 4 on the heels of the 3rd one, knowing in your heart that a lot of the satisfaction from that great ending might disappear. There are a lot of things working for this film, including a great cast and the return of writer Kevin Williamson (he didn’t write the 3rd one), but there is a lot of bad. It’s easy to appreciate the attempt at franchise revitalization, but the horror genre was a very different landscape in 2011 than it was in 2000, and it shows in this movie. Highlights: In the original trilogy, Randy’s self aware cinephile always felt a bit grating, but Hayden Panettiere’s character remedies that situation, presenting the kind of self aware horror expert this franchise desperately needed. The phone call between her and the killer in the 3rd act is a great homage to opening act of the first Scream but also great for how many horror movie sequels she rattles off in the span of a few seconds.
If you’re not hooked on this series after watching the first one, chances are you won’t want to spend your time binge watching all 3 of the sequels. However, this series has a lot of great things working for it that other franchises are often lacking. There’s a clear director’s vision, a benefit of having Wes Craven helm all 4 films, but there’s also a lot of genuine scares and a huge respect for the horror films that came before it. In our book that counts for a lot. Surely you have a favorite, let us know by rating each film, and be sure to check back to HorrorRated for our next franchise binge!