Scream Movies Ranked from Worst to Best 

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Scream Movies Ranked from Worst to Best 

This sets the table for what is a clever deconstruction/embrace of modern franchise reboots. Legacy characters like Dewey (David Arquette), Gale (Courteney Cox), and Sidney (Neve Campbell) are back, but they’re now supporting players for a new generation’s melodrama and terrors. The rules are similar but different, which is signaled immediately by the fact Tara survives the “opening kill”(producers are also likely thanking their lucky stars they didn’t kill off future-Wednesday superstar, Ortega). It really is the same but different, with there now being two Final Girls, Tara and her estranged big sister Sam (Melissa Barrera), whose family secrets tie all the way back to the original ’96 movie.

Those ideas and sisterly bonds would be better fleshed out by the movie’s immediate sequel. In the case of Scream 5 though, the film astutely plays the hits while making fun of requels that can do only that. The set pieces lack a bit of the theatrical flourishes imbued by Wes Craven’s best scenes, but directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett pick up the reins admirably. They’re also unleashed to indulge the gore in a way Craven never was in his day. Most of all though, the movie works because it has one of the best killer reveals in the franchise’s history, with the film’s murderers elevating the film into a scathing satire of fanboy culture. The killers’ motives and final twists are among the very best in the series, behind only Scream 4 and the ’96 trendsetter.

4. Scream 4 (2011)

The lowest grossing of all the Scream films, Scream 4 did not get as much love as it deserved. Released a full 11 years after Scream 3, Craven et al were taking a risk with this one, chancing their arms that people would still be interested in the exploits of Ghostface, even after the ending of Scream 3 had apparently put the franchise to rest. And after all that time, after the horror genre had moved on again, it could have been a disaster of a film. But it wasn’t. It isn’t. It’s actually kind of brilliant.

Scream 4 brings back the three main surviving characters from the franchise: Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley. Smartly, it also doesn’t try to pretend the big gap between the third film and this one didn’t happen. The characters have moved on with their lives, and they’re in very different places now than they were back then. Sidney’s an author, taking her book on surviving the last three films on the road. Gale and Dewey are married, and while he’s become the sheriff, she’s struggling with writers’ block, which puts a strain on their relationship—fitting, really, since in real life Courtney Cox and David Arquette had got married, had a child, and separated.

And while the original characters have all aged and grown out of horror movie stereotypes, a new generation has stepped up to fill the gap.

These kids are even more genre-savvy than the original cast, with Hayden Panettiere’s character, Kirby, out-nerding everyone else in the franchise. (The scene where she cuts off the killer’s question about horror remakes by reeling off more than a dozen remakes is particularly brilliant.) Rather than harking back to the slashers of the ’80s like the first movie, Scream 4 takes on a new wave of horror and introduces a new set of rules. In its way, it’s as funny and clever as the original was. And in spite of everything, the reveal of the killer(s) is a real shock. No spoilers, but the performance of the actor(s) playing the killer(s) is inspired, full of demented, manic energy.

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