The Scream series is unlike most horror franchises out there. It’s been almost eerily consistent with only two (three if you count Radio Silence as two people) directors and an almost constant presence of their “legacy” characters. Other series like Halloween or A Nightmare On Elm Street have seen creators and actors come and go throughout the years. Scream has stuck to a winning formula since 1996 with the first film’s release. The horror slasher whodunits make great movies even when the quality wanes.

With the release of Scream VI this weekend, where does it fit into the overall ranking of the franchise? Does it live up to the legacy of the original film? We’re six movies into this nearly 30-year-old franchise. There’s a reason fans keep coming back for more, and studios keep greenlighting more movies.

There’s a disclaimer here, all the Scream movies are good in their own ways. This series has been immune to some issues plaguing other horror series. Some are scarier than others, and some have better killer reveals, but they’re all at least a baseline of entertaining.

Without further ado, here are All Six Scream Movies Ranked From Worst To Best.

6. Scream 3 (2000), 3 1/2 Bloody Knives

Scream 2
Photo: Miramax Films

There’s a lot surrounding Scream 3 that could have been a much better movie than it was. It took the meta-ness to a new level with Stab and the whole movie production. It’s an excellent setting for some new Ghostface killings, but the outside circumstances of extensive rewrites, Kevin Williamson not writing the actual script, and the pressure of toning down the violence in the face of the Columbine shootings make this one more comedy than horror.

This is easily the least thrilling and scary of the bunch. It’s wacky as hell and has definitely gotten better with age though. Parker Posey and Courteney Cox trying to out Gale Weathers each other is a highlight. Adding in Courteney Cox’s horrific haircut, this one gets knocked for some things out of its control. It still doesn’t rise up to the heights of other films in the series though.

5. Scream 2 (1997), 4 Bloody Knives

Photo: Miramax Films

How do you make a sequel to the meta-slasher that reset the cycle of slasher and horror movies for years to come? Well, you start off with an incredibly brutal and insane opening sequence with rabid Stab fans not noticing that Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps have been brutally murdered. After watching this movie, you’ll never put your ear up against a door or thin wall to hear on the other side.

I don’t know about anyone else, but Jerry O’Connell‘s singing scene is always a skip for me. The college setting is awesome, and this features one of the scariest chase scenes in the entire series with Ghostface chasing Gale in the sound bay. However, the fun of Scream movies is trying to figure out who Ghostface is, and getting little breadcrumbs of who they are. In this one, you might be able to tell that Timothy Olyphant is one of the killers, but tying Billy Loomis’s mom to the other killer is almost impossible. So the reveal doesn’t hit as hard as it could have.

Scream 2 also had to undergo rewrites because the film’s ending leaked before it was finished, so we could have a completely different film.

4. Scream VI (2023), 4 1/2 Bloody Knives

Scream VI
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Like our review of Scream VI, we won’t be spoiling anything about this movie here, but it’s safe to say that Radio Silence and everyone behind it, knocked it out of the park. The movie lives up to its predecessors and pays plenty of tribute to the past while giving the future cast plenty to work with.

It takes us to New York City, and the film uses that locale to terrifying effect. Make no mistake. This isn’t Jason Takes Manhattan. The kills are brutal, the gore is there in spades, and everyone, including Ghostface, gets really messed up. Finally, the opening scene does something that could be considered sacrilege but ends up as one of the series’ most interesting and awesome openers.

You can read our Spoiler-Free review here and the Kill Count for Scream VI here.

3. Scream 4 (2011), 5 Bloody Knives

Photo: Miramax Films

This was the last Scream movie directed by Wes Craven before his death. This movie predicted plenty about society today, including influencer culture, and how social media shapes how we interpret news and events. It takes down the idea of influencers being people who are actually talented in any way. Out of all the Scream movies, this might be the hardest to decipher who the true killers are. The reveal of Jill Roberts as the killer is absolutely beautiful. When you think the movie is going to end, it has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve. We get the best Dewey/Gale action since the first film with stellar performances from David Arquette and Courteney Cox.

I want to host a Scream-A-Thon because of this movie. Someone give me a barn and some hay.

Scream 4 is top-tier, but gets edged out by the first film and this next movie.

2. Scream (2022), 5 Bloody Knives

Scream 5
Photo: Paramount Pictures

This one could have been very bad. Making a Scream movie without Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson had the potential to be just like the Scream TV series, soulless. Instead, the team of Radio Silence, James Vanderbilt, and Guy Busick gave us a love letter to Wes Craven and everything that came before it.

It balanced the edge of being a sequel but also being almost a remake of the first film perfectly. The new characters weren’t annoying, and we got just enough of our old heroes to satiate any kind of fan. Add into that the performances by Jack Quaid and Jenna Ortega, and you have one of the best horror films in a long time. The reveal of the killers and the setting is still breathtaking.

David Arquette gave a career-best performance, turning Dewey from the loveable butcher block into a true hero. His death is absolutely gut-wrenching. Gale’s reaction is even harder to watch.

That all doesn’t take into account the absolutely SCATHING takedown of toxic “fans” and how Hollywood handles horror movies these days. That portion of the movie takes it into the upper stratosphere of horror movies.

1. Scream (1996), 5 Bloody Knives

Photo: Miramax Films

If you’re wondering why horror movies are the way they are today, it’s because of Scream. The cycle of horror movies lasted all the way from the 70s to the decadence of the 80s. By the time it came for the 90s, the genre was bloated. We had myriad sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, The Omen, and plenty of other series. This self-referential masterpiece pulled back the curtain on all the tricks of the trade. It was the come to Jesus moment for horror and in the years since, movies have tried to duplicate it.

It even spawned an entire series of parody movies that parody this parody of the slasher genre. Did it copy a lot from other films? Hell yeah it did. The opening scene is straight out of Psycho with Drew Barrymore biting the dust far before audiences thought she would. It has the best Ghostfaces with Stu Macher and Billy Loomis. Matthew Lillard gives an all-time best performance that shows why we all love him so much.

There’s a reason why fans are holding out hope that Stu Macher somehow survived that TV falling on his head.

Horror movies might have a new cycle going now, with hyper-realism, elevated themes, and more production values, but they all own a piece of that to Scream.