Scream’s 2022 reboot will see the franchise return to cinema screens, but how do the Scream movies and TV shows rank in comparison to each other?
The Scream series has had its ups and downs, so with 2022’s Scream reboot on the way, how do the franchise’s movies and TV shows rank in comparison with each other? Nightmare On Elm Street creator Wes Craven’s Scream revolutionized the slasher subgenre in the mid-‘90s by adding an element of self-aware humor to the formula. Scream’s teenage heroes knew all of the cliched rules involved in surviving a slasher, and yet they were still gruesomely killed by a sharp-witted masked murderer who proved just as savvy as their victims.
However, the franchise could not maintain its stellar critical reception forever. Scream 2 earned impressive write-ups upon its 1998 release, but 2000’s Scream 3 saw the departure of screenwriter Kevin Williamson and many critics and viewers alike felt his replacement Ehren Kruger failed to recapture the magic of earlier outings. 2010’s Scream 4 was more divisive, with many reviewers calling it a welcome return to form while others claimed the meta-slasher genre was outdated.
2015’s Scream TV series, meanwhile, was a small-town mystery more akin to Netflix’s recent book adaptation There’s Someone Inside Your House than Craven’s movies and earned the ire of fans who felt it bore little resemblance to the original franchise. However, while the 2019 revival Scream: Resurrection skewed closer to the movie’s tone, it couldn’t quite prove as successful as the films with critics. 2022’s upcoming reboot promises to bring back Ghostface’s iconic mask along with Sidney Prescott, Dewey, Gale, and the voice of Roger L. Jackson. With so many additions to the series, audiences are naturally curious about how the Scream movies and TV shows rank in comparison with each other, and which are the best and worst.
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Scream 2 (1998)
The “Is Aliens is superior to Alien?” debate appears in an early Scream 2 scene as Scream survivor Randy, franchise newcomer Cici and Timothy Olyphant’s Mickey question whether a sequel can ever outstrip the original during a Film Studies class. It is an audacious gag, as director Craven and screenwriter Williamson practically dare viewers to call Scream 2 inferior to its predecessor. However, the triumphant sequel more than earns the sequence. Scream 2 is a sequel that can go toe-to-toe with 1996’s original and many of its most impressive setpieces are even tenser than those seen in its predecessor.
Scream 2 is a masterclass of tension-building, whether it is the killer stalking a victim through a soundproof studio, Sidney crawling over the killer’s seemingly unconscious body to escape a car wreck, or watching Buffy heroine Sarah Michelle Gellar attempt to escape Ghostface. However, the sequel is let down by a cheap, impossible-to-predict killer reveal that saps it off some effectiveness and ensures it can’t quite measure up to the original. That said, Liev Schreiber’s final line almost makes up for the surprise, and Scream 2 remains an effective, brutal follow-up.
The original and still the greatest meta-slasher, 1996’s Scream is in a league of its own. Williamson’s razor-sharp screenplay (originally titled “Scary Movie”) elevates what could have been a pedestrian effort, but Craven’s direction is the star of the show. From the devastating opening (still daring decades later) to the charming, energetic performances of the cast, the self-referential slasher Scream represents a distillation of the legendary director’s talents. The unrelenting brutality of The Last House on the Left is mirrored in Casey and Tatum’s nigh-on unwatchable deaths, the creepy atmosphere that pervades A Nightmare On Elm Street runs through the streets of Woodsboro, and the meta-humor of New Nightmare is refined and honed into a more crowd-pleasing style.
The humor never blunts the effectiveness of the horror, the characters are lovable and it is authentically upsetting to see them killed off, and the central whodunit has a clever pay-off. While Scream’s 2022 reboot brings back the original’s characters, the new outing will undeniably have big shoes to fill when it arrives in theatres. As fresh, funny, and frightening as it was upon release 25 years ago, Scream remains a testament to the talent of its director and a high watermark in the slasher genre.