A Guide To All The Classic Scream Movies


Created on Canva by Logan Davidson

Fans of the “Scream” movie series discuss and rate what their favorite one it.

Leah Melessa and Logan Davidson

What’s your favorite scary movie? Quite possibly the most iconic line from the Scream series. Premiering in 1996, Scream has established itself as a cult classic, horror slasher favorite. On March 10, the 6th installment in the franchise will be released continuing the legacy of the assumed Ghostface identity. Until then, we are here to discuss and rank each movie leading up to it, so beware! There is no masked killer ahead, but there certainly are spoilers.

SCREAM (1996) – 7/10

Starting with the first installment of the series. The original. The one who started it all. Back in the day, when the movie rollout first began. Drew Barrymore was thought to be the poster child for the movie. She was in all the advertisements and all the commercials, the “Barrymore-dom” of Scream was everywhere. However, once audiences finally got to settle into the movie, that was not the case. To this day she remains an icon as the original “first girl” to be seen in the Scream movies. The movie opens with her trying to have a nice peaceful night in her house (alone…) until she gets a strange call from a man with an unsettling voice. As she is forced to continue the call, the audience soon realizes she is not making it out of this part alive. 

So, after a pretty decent chase scene, Drew (her character is actually called Casey Becker, but she’s only in it for like, 10 minutes, so whatever) is no longer with us, due to an incognito man in a Ghostface mask. Ms. Becker is going to be the talk of the town which brings us to our group of main characters: Sidney Prescott, Billy Loomis (Sidney’s boyfriend), Stu Macher, Tatum Riley, and Randy Meeks. For the bulk of the movie, we go through different suspects as the Ghostface killer continues doing what he does best (Tatum Riley doesn’t make it RIP), but once we get to the final scene, set at Stu Macher’s house, we reach the climax of the whole movie. More people die, and finally, we find out that Stu Macher was the killer this whole time! 

Plot twist: it was also Billy Loomis. Billy convinced Stu to do it because Billy was convinced that his father’s affair with Sidney’s mother was the reason that his mom abandoned him. However, Billy and Stu don’t get away with it. Stu dies from electrocution when Sidney drops a TV on his head, and Billy dies when Gale Weathers (Scream’s best TV reporter @Courtney Cox) shoots him with the Deputy’s son’s (Dewey) gun. And so, this movie comes to a grand end, ready for 5 more movies to stem out of it. Overall, the movie was a pretty great watch and definitely for nostalgic horror fans. The only bad thing was Stu’s motive was a bit shaky (he’s easily peer pressured). 

SCREAM 2 (1997) – 8/10

Only a year after the first movie, Scream 2 was released in theaters with tons of hype surrounding it. Sidney Prescott is now all grown up and in college with a new clique of friends: Randy Meeks (returning from the first one), Mickey Altieri, Derek Feldman, and Hallie. Jada Pinkett-Smith opens the film as the second “first girl.” Spoiler alert: she and her boyfriend die in the opening scene at an advanced screening of Stab, a movie based on Scream. With the death of Pinkett-Smith’s character, Sidney is freaking out about Ghostface being back. We run through the suspects, which include Cotton Weary, a returning member of Scream 1 that Sidney accused of killing her mother.

 Randy Meeks, unfortunately, doesn’t make it, along with Hallie. In the climactic scene, we see Derek (Sidney’s current boyfriend) lowered on a prop of the sun in the school auditorium in front of Sidney. Sidney, scared, of course, is shocked when Mickey walks out of the dimmed seats and threatens to shoot Derek. Sidney is left with the choice to either untie her boyfriend (he could be the second killer) or simply let him die. She chooses the latter and that’s bye-bye Derek. Sidney begins fighting with Mickey when he states that he was not the only one behind the murders. Billy Loomis’ mom is back to avenge the death of her son. 

The Scream mask used in the movie franchise, “Scream” (Urko Dorronsoro from Donostia – San Sebastian, Euskal Herria, via Wikimedia Commons)

SCREAM 3 (2000) – 4/10 

Scream 3, arguably the most forgettable of the movie franchise, is the last movie to truly follow Sydney Prescott and her clique consisting of Deputy Dewey, and Gale Weathers. Scream 3 breaks the 4th wall even more than before by taking a comedic approach, which allows the viewer to feel as if they’re also a part of the mystery. However, in terms of the plotline, it’s a little weak, only scoring a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 2.9/5 on Letterboxd. 

In this slasher, Sydney Prescott and her group are once again brought back into the reach of the infamous masked killer, as this Ghostface is targeting cast members of the “Stab 3” movie that is being filmed, in the movie. A movie within a movie is always an interesting point in the plot, and it’s what makes the Scream movies so good: the hyper-aware characters who try so desperately to survive by thinking that they’re above it all, which ultimately gets them killed. As the movie progresses, the characters get picked off one by one, until the final 4 remain- Sydney, Gale, Dewey, and of course, Ghostface.

 After all, is said and done, the killer is revealed to be Stab 3’s very own Director, Roman Bridger. His motive was to get revenge on Sydney (per usual) seeing that he is Sydney’s half-brother, born to her mother Maureen when she was an actress. Roman was rejected by his mother, leading him to resent Sydney. He’s the reason that Billy Loomis and Stu Macher attempted to kill Sydney, and when they failed, and Sydney became famous, he decided to take matters into his own hands. It’s a bit of a stretch, but for Scream purposes, we’ll let it slide. 

SCREAM 4 (2011) – 9/10 

After the intense flop of Scream 3, an 11-year break followed. And in that 11-year break, a lot of pondering went into the Scream franchise. It wasn’t completely dead, for there would always be a little spark surrounding the idea of another Ghostface wreaking havoc on Woodsboro, or wherever else the killer chased Sydney Prescott. But director Wes Craven seemed to know that following Sidney Prescott around any longer would make his audience lose interest; at this point, social media was just starting to take off, and new celebrities were becoming the “it-girls of Hollywood. So, Craven decided to cast a whole new(ish) group of characters that would freshen up the series, and in doing so, Craven rebirthed the Scream movie franchise. Scream 4, starring Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette was the beginning of a new era. New faces, new motives.

Staying true to its roots, however, the movie takes place in Woodsboro, where 2 high school students are murdered by yet another Ghostface killer. Coincidentally, Sydney Prescott is also in town to promote her new self-help book about living with her trauma as a consistent victim of the Ghostface attacks. Sidney Prescott herself becomes a suspect as one of the killers, seeing that evidence from the crime scene from the night before is planted into her rental car. Because she has to stay in Woodsboro until the investigation is finished, Sydney must temporarily reside with her cousin Jill Roberts.

After a few murders, and an entanglement with the Woodsboro High School Film Club, it is revealed in a shocking, plot twist-esque manner that the killers of this movie are Sydney’s cousin, Jill (talk about family issues), and Film Club co-president Charlie Walker. Jill’s main motive was to be in the limelight and to do so, she ends up killing off her partner in crime. Jill manages to get away with her plan, but things take a left turn when her attempt to kill Sydney doesn’t work, and Jill meets her fate after a battle between Gale Weathers, Sydney Prescott, and Dewey in the hospital at the end of the movie. 

The film itself is the epitome of 2010’s young adult movies which is what makes it so great. It takes itself seriously but just enough to where the comedic moments come through. The reveal is also one for the books, seeing as Jill Roberts was attacked but then was later revealed as the killer. And of course, the movie has Emma Roberts, so obviously it’s good.

SCREAM (2022)  – 7/10

Quite possibly the one most similar to the first, we welcomed Scream (Scream 5, technically) early last year. Starring Jenna Ortega, Mikey Madison, and Melissa Barrera, the film was designed to be a self-conscious “prequel” to the original Scream movie. As they explained in the movie, a “requel,” is essentially the same story as the first, but not directly following the storyline. This is where characters like Dylan Minette’s Wes Hicks (son of Deputy Hicks seen in Scream 2), and even returning legacy Sidney Prescott come into play. The movie starts like any other, with a phone call letting the audience know who the first one to die is. But this time it’s a little different. Jenna Ortega’s character, Tara, receives the call and is attacked by Ghostface, but by some miracle, she makes it out alive. This alerts her sister, Sam, who walked out on her a few years ago following some suspicious “personal reasons.” 

While the town, including Tara’s friend group, is worried about a new masked killer plaguing Woodsboro, Sam is on the hunt to find out who it is, even though everyone suspects it’s her. She bands together with Tara’s friends and retired deputy Dewey and they are off to find the killer. Sidney Prescott flies back to Woodsboro following the news of another killer, and Gale Weathers does the same.

As the killings continue, claiming the lives of a creepy stalker guy, Wes Hicks, and Deputy Judy Hicks, Tara is attacked at the hospital while Dewey is on watch. After a very bloody battle, Tara, Sam, and Richie (Sam’s boyfriend) make it out alive, but Dewey is stabbed to death by the masked killer. On their way to escape, Tara realizes she forgot her inhaler, so they stop by Amber’s (Mikey Madison) to grab the spare, where she, obviously is having a party. They force everyone out, leaving us once again with our main group and in the house where the iconic climax of the original Scream took place. Tara’s friends, Chad and Mindy are attacked but make it out alive. Cue the big reveal: Liv (another of Tara’s friends) expresses her fears about the killer when Amber pulls out the weapon and fires it at her. Tara and Sam, now in fear, are shocked to find Richie cackling at the situation. With the killers known, Tara, Sam, Gale, and Sidney try their best to survive, but that’s hard to do, with Tara’s broken leg and Gale and Sidney both injured.

Eventually, Richie is stabbed in the face by Sam in a pretty gory scene, and Tara’s Ghostface outfit is caught on fire and she is shot (an allusion to the climax of the movie Once Upon A Time in Hollywood in which the same actress is lit on fire and shot). Overall, the fifth installment of the Scream series is a pretty decent watch. It keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and the structure of the movie is not horrible. The movie’s main catch is that it is self-aware which makes for a lot of comedic and ironic moments.


After dedicating many hours to completing the Scream series (not including the TV shows), our official ranking is as follows: Scream 4, Scream 2, Scream (1996), Scream (2022), and last and most definitely least Scream 3. Each movie is special in its way (except Scream 3) and makes for a really fun watch. Now with Scream VI, releasing in March, grab your popcorn and grab your friends and settle in for what is sure to be a wild ride. And make sure to watch the previous ones, they are sure to be… your favorite scary movie!