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Every ‘Scream’ Opening Sequence, Ranked

Casey Becker in Scream

People can thank Scream for turning “What’s your favorite scary movie?” into a bone-chilling question. To this day, it’s still quite scary when Ghostface asks our favorite characters that question (or any question, really). Fans are certainly ready to see what the iconic slasher gets up to in Ghostface in New York, a.k.a. Scream VI, a.k.a. Scream (they dropped the number). Who knows which characters are going to bite the dust or if there will be a big opening kill this time around—speaking of opening kills, that’s what I’m here to talk about.

Scream as a franchise has some of the best openings in horror history, and that’s a fact. Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore)’s opening kill still gets me, and I’ve seen the 1996 classic too many times to count. But what about the other openings? Keep reading for a ranking of every opening sequence in the Scream franchise (so far).

6. Scream 3 (2000)

Poor Scream 3 is usually the target of the most criticism, and people are justified in disliking it because it fails in plenty of ways. The sequel is definitely a product of its time (the Columbine mass shooting directly impacted the tone and reportedly resulted in a full rewrite) and it’s still regarded as the weakest film in the franchise. So it’s only natural that the opening would appear at the bottom of this list.

I wouldn’t call it the most dreadful opening I’ve ever seen, but it’s not the best in this very iconic franchise. Cotton (Liev Schreiber)’s death (due to how shocking it is) and the tense atmosphere created for Christine (Kelly Rutherford) before Cotton gets home are the best parts about the opening. Otherwise? It’s not remotely as memorable as other Scream openings.

5. Scream 4 (2011)

Say what you will about Scream 4, but it has some incredibly iconic moments (Emma Roberts kills it as Jill, in particular). The opening for Scream 4 is very meta, but it would’ve been better without all the fake out openings. Jenny (Aimee Teegarden)’s chase scene is still effective, but the alternate Scream 4 opening is a bit more unsettling. So despite how much I still adore the film, the opening does too much and should’ve axed the fake-outs to be more effective as a whole. Imagine if we’d gotten a longer chase scene or some version of that alternate opening? It would’ve been chef’s kiss.

4. Scream 2 (1997)

Scream 2‘s opening taps into something that many people in America have since come to fear. The idea of getting killed at a movie theater is incredibly scary because of real-life events. Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Phil (Omar Epps) are part of the commentary surrounding Black folks in horror movies. And their deaths serve as an example of violence in horror being mimicked in real life. It’s an opening that’s very uncomfortable because of the public setting and is rightfully regarded as one of the best in the franchise. Personally, it’s in my top three (for now).

3. Scream VI (2023)

I’m a complex person so if you want to know the truth, Scream VI‘s opening is technically in the second spot on this ranking. Scream (1996) and Scream 5 (2022) rest in the same slot for me (told you that I’m complex). And after seeing Scream VI (2023), I can confidently say the opening is fucking fantastic. We all knew that Laura (Samara Weaving) was going to bite it in this film. But her death was so sudden and brutal then when her killer took off his mask, it was shocking. Not to mention how his death was at the hands of the killer(s) we’d be dealing with for the rest of the film. Ghostface killing another aspiring Ghostface? Iconic.

2. Scream 5 (2022)

Tara (Jenna Ortega)’s Scream 5 opening is right up there with Casey’s opening in the original Scream (more on that in a minute). Controversial take? Potentially. However, Jenna Ortega is this generation’s scream queen and she studied the hell out of Drew’s performance (and it shows). Scream 5 may not be a personal favorite for many, but the opening is fucking killer (pun partially intended). The tone is a lot darker than previous entries and there’s a genuine sense of terror throughout. Tara’s Ghostface attack is also quite violent and she actually manages to fight back. I am giving a thumbs up to this opening forever.

1. Scream (1996)

It’s probably redundant to call Scream‘s opening iconic, and maybe it’s been talked about a little too much. Will that stop me from talking about it? Nope! Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) is an incredibly memorable Scream character, even though we only see her in the opening sequence. The original Scream is still one of the most iconic horror films in general. The ways in which this film and its opening changed horror remain evident in most of the slashers that came after. It’s also a master class in building suspense and scares (both for Casey and the audience), which is why it’s at the top of this list.

(featured image: Dimension Films)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a blerd writer and visual artist who loves horror, anime and all things strange. Her writing has appeared in Pink Advocate, Dread Central and more. For more, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theblackbuffy.