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Prepare for ‘Scream VI’ … By Watching Every Other ‘Scream’ Movie

What's your favorite ... film in the 'Scream' franchise?

A very scared Sidney Prescott holding a gun in Scream

The phone is ringing and you better answer it, reader. Just kidding (unless it is and if that’s the case then lock all your doors)!

Scream is still very much alive as a franchise and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Plenty of horror franchises have been on pause for years (for example: A Nightmare on Elm Street) and may never see the light of day again. Thankfully Radio Silence is giving us a new generation of Scream kids and Ghostface.

If you’re coming into the Scream franchise for the first time and need to know how to watch the Scream films in order, you’ve come to the right place. Keep your doors locked while you read, remember that everyone is a suspect, and don’t read spoilers for Scream VI.

Scream (1996)

Tatum Riley being sassy with Ghostface in Scream
(Dimension Films)

The originals of our favorite franchises are important to us as horror fans. And you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who despises Scream. The film primarily follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and a spree of murders happening in her hometown of Woodsboro. We’ve all said how much Scream revitalized horror and helped breathe life back into slashers in general. Imagine a world in which Scream never came to be? I really don’t want to.

If you’re diving into a franchise for the first time, you must start at the beginning. Nothing else that happens throughout the franchise will make sense (or connect) if you don’t.

Scream 2 (1997)

Gale Weathers and her iconic chase scene in Scream 2
(Dimension Films)

Horror sequels tend to be very polarizing but I’m not sure Scream 2 is as polarizing. And that’s certainly a good thing because it’s top tier. It follows the survivors of the first film and a new spree of killings at Windsor College. The stakes are high and Sidney, as well as other legacy characters, blend even more. There are iconic moments for both the main characters and characters with smaller roles. Not to mention the killer reveal is so nuts the first time around. And if you don’t enjoy Gale (Courteney Cox)’s chase scene then you have no taste. Of course, I’m kidding (sort of)!

Scream 3 (2000)

Jennifer Jolie being an icon in Scream 3
(Dimension Films)

Every franchise has a weak link and as much as I enjoy aspects of Scream 3 (2000), it’s the least favorite for many Scream fans. The plot primarily follows our trio of survivors three years after Scream 2 and a new killing spree in Hollywood this time around. There’s certainly more of a comedic tone throughout Scream 3 because of the time period in which it was coming out (Columbine impacted the film). The goofy moments don’t work for everybody. But thankfully Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey), Gale, and even Dewey (David Arquette) help keep things afloat without Sidney being as present.

Scream 4 (2011)

Sidney Prescott looking bewildered in Scream 4
(Dimension Films)

Scream 4 didn’t get the best treatment for many years, despite it being ahead of its time in some ways. The plot follows a new generation and the new lives of legacy characters—and, of course, another killing spree that ties back to Sidney. There are aspects of the film that have aged well when you think about it and it certainly commented on horror at that point in time. It also introduced some iconic characters that we won’t soon forget. It would’ve been the conclusion to the franchise if Radio Silence didn’t decide to revive Scream as a whole.

Scream 5

Tara Carpenter talking to Ghostface in Scream 5
(Paramount Pictures)

5cream … Oops, sorry, I meant Scream 5 (or Scream 2022 if you want to be that particular) certainly caused a lot of ruckus. Some folks don’t love it and others adore it (that’s something that happens in every franchise), but nobody can say Ghostface isn’t scary throughout the film. The plot follows a spree of killings in Woodsboro yet again. Only this time, it isn’t all about Sidney and her legacy as a character. Scream 5 has a fresh feeling still and the new characters are easy to invest in. Sidney passed the torch and it now belongs to someone new. Many praises should be given because the kills were brutal and Ghostface wasn’t playing any games.

Scream VI (2023)

Some of the Scream VI crew on the subway in Scream VI
(Paramount Pictures)

Fresh and not remotely what you might expect to see in a sixth entry of a slasher franchise, Scream VI (2023) follows our core four (Sam, Tara, Mindy, and Chad) as well as their new friends who find themselves caught up in a new spree of killings. Legacy characters Gale and Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) return to aid our lovable new generation. But I’m not going to spoil anything in this article, you’ll just have to go see the film for yourself. If you love the others or want you will probably enjoy the hell out of this sequel.

(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.