Scream is one of the most popular slasher horror movie franchises ever created. It all started in 1996 with the first film featuring the psychopathic killer wearing the Ghostface mask. Four movies are out so far, with the fifth slated to premiere in 2022.
It’s hard to keep up with the entire story with so many sequels already made over nearly three decades. Don’t worry; I got you covered. Here’s a complete guide to all Scream movies in order. Note that watching every sequel as a stand-alone movie works as well. However, to understand the entire story fully, you should watch all the movies as one big story.
Scream Movies Watch Order At A Glance
As I mentioned, four Scream movies are already out, and the fifth movie is slated to come out in mid-January 2022. The story follows Sidney Prescott, a woman living in Woodsboro who’s tormented by a psychopathic killer known as Ghostface due to the mask he’s wearing. Here’s how the movies came out chronologically.
- Scream (1996)
- Scream 2 (1997)
- Scream 3 (2000)
- Scream 4 (2011)
- Scream (2022)
Scream Watch Order Detailly Explained
Now that you know how the movies came out in the right order let’s dive into a more detailed explanation of the timeline and the storyline. It’s actually quite straightforward, as there are no prequels – the story of each subsequent film picks up immediately after the last movie or a bit further into the future.
The first Scream movie was a colossal hit when it came out on December 20, 1996. In fact, it was the highest-grossing slasher horror movie in history until 2018, when the new Halloween flick took over the throne with nearly $256 million worldwide. Scream is now second with $103 million in US box office numbers and $173 million worldwide.
Wes Craven directed the film while Kevin Williamson helped Craven with the screenplay based on a true story of the Gainesville Ripper (note – based on). The film stars include Neve Campbell as the main character, Sidney Prescott, with an amazing supporting cast including Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, and others.
The plot starts when a girl named Casey receives a phone call from someone asking her about horror movies. Not long after, Casey and her boyfriend end up brutally murdered. The main character, Sidney, goes to the same school as Casey. She immediately reminisces about her mother, also murdered in almost the same way years before Casey and her boyfriend.
Not long after, Sidey gets a call herself, after which the psychopath with the Ghostface mask enters her home and tries to kill her. She locks herself in a room and her boyfriend Billy arrives with the killer nowhere in sight. However, Sidney is convinced Billy is the killer, so she calls the police. Spoiler alert – she was right.
Overall, the film was a bit predictable but very well-written and directed, and Neve Campbell did an amazing job as Sidney. The acting is a bit dramatic for today’s standards, but it’s still an amusing flick with a few nice scares. It’s fun to watch, especially if you’re a slasher horror movie fan like myself. I’d rate it 7/10, which is about the same as the film’s IMDb rating – 7.3/10.
Scream 2 (1997)
The sequel came out right after the first film, thanks to the huge success of the initial movie. Scream 2 came out almost exactly a year later, on December 12, 1997. While it came very close in box office numbers with $172 million worldwide and $101 million in the US, the second film in the franchise wasn’t nearly as well critically acclaimed as the original flick.
Craven and Williamson teamed up again, bringing the survivors back for part two while introducing some new characters. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are joined by Jada Pinkett Smith and other notable actors.
The plot starts two years after the Woodsboro massacre, with Sidney already attending Windsor College in Ohio (a fictional college). As the students learn about Sidney’s past, they start calling and pranking her, claiming to be the murderer. It pushes Prescott near the edge, but it wasn’t funny anymore when real murders started happening again.
First, two of Sidney’s friends get brutally killed in the cinema. The people question her, and not long after, her friend Cici gets a call from the killer and dies the same night while Prescott is at a party. The psychopath attacks Sidney again, and she survives again, learning that the killer was a copycat wearing the Ghostface costume.
Scream 2 was more outrageous, brutal, and gory, with more blood and more victims. However, it wasn’t as well-rated as the first part because it really didn’t bring anything new or original to the table. It felt like the initial story had been recycled, so the ratings dropped from a nice 7.3 for the first movie to 6.2 on IMDb for the second film.
It’s still a fun watch, but the world could’ve gone along without it.
Scream 3 (2000)
In my humble opinion, the third movie in the franchise is by far the worse so far. It came out on February 4, 2000, and gathered quite a profit with $161 million worldwide. I guess people expected it to be at least amusing as the second film, if not as good as the first. Still, it fell flat on its face with a 5.6 IMDb rating – and I honestly believe it’s a lot.
Craven continued directing, but this time, Ehren Kruger made the script. Honestly, it feels more like a parody than an actual horror film. The Campbell/Cox/Arquette trio is back again, with several other prominent characters returning and more new faces appearing and getting slain.
After the events of Scream 2, one of the characters, Cotton Wary, becomes a talk-show superstar hosting a TV show called 100% Cotton. In the meantime, Sidney lives in California with a new identity.
When she and her friends go to see Stab 3 in the cinema – a sequel film revolving around the Woodsboro murders, bodies start falling, and mayhem ensues – another psychopath took the Ghostface mantle and started a new killing spree, with Sidney being his main target.
First, Cotton receives a call and gets brutally murdered along with his girlfriend, Kristen. Sidney hears about it and knows she’s in danger. Of course, she was right, gets attacked, and well, you know the rest.
There are some nice sequences, but yet again – for the third time – we get the exact same thing. Another murdering copycat terrorizes the main antagonists until the end where they destroy him. It was a total money-grabber with nothing original to provide, which is probably why it flopped so hard ratings-wise.
Scream 4 (2011)
Nobody hoped or expected a fourth Scream movie to come out – but surprisingly, Scream 4 came out on April 15, 2011, eleven years after the trilogy had been concluded. Thankfully so, as it was a breath of new life into the franchise after the third-movie fiasco.
As expected, Wes Craven returned to direct, but Kevin Williamson also returned to write the script. The audience liked the film, giving it a nice 6.2 IMDb rating. It’s a good slasher that deserved the recognition, but nothing spectacular that will blow you away.
Still, the bad third film and the huge gap between Scream 3 and Scream 4 resulted in a much more modest box office success, gathering $97 million worldwide, which isn’t bad but isn’t great either, as the movies’ budget was $40 million.
The movie takes us ten years into the future after Scream 3 events concluded. Sidney barely recollected her mind and her life as she began writing. As one would expect, she encounters Ghostface once again after returning to her hometown after a decade as she finishes her book tour.
Jenny and Marnie are two girls watching the trailer for Stab 7, and Jenny starts joking around, calling Marnie and imitating Ghostface over the phone. As one would expect, they end up being the first victims of the new Ghostface psycho.
The film was refreshing and worth your time, not to spoil the ending, which is not something I’d say for Scream 3. You’ll have fun watching it for sure.
Finally, the fifth movie is coming out very soon, with the official premiere on January 14, 2022. It won’t be named Scream 5, but only Scream – like the original flick from 1996.
It will be the first movie without Wes Craven as the director (Craven passed away in 2015) or Kevin Williamson as the writer. Instead, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are the directors, while James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick worked on the screenplay.
We don’t know the whole plot until it comes out, but we have some information. Neve, Courteney, and David will reprise their roles once again, probably for the last time. The story picks up on events twenty-five years after the initial Woodsboro murders.
A new killer emerges to terrorize the city once again, namely a group of teenagers in an attempt to resurrect the horrible dark secrets of the small Californian town. Sidney must return to reveal the truth and find out who’s wreaking havoc on her hometown once more.
The audience has to wait a few more days, but initial screenings for the critics have already been held. According to Variety, the critics’ reactions are epic. They’re calling it epic, genius, and best since the original. Let’s just hope it’s true.
Honorable mention: Scream: The TV Series (2015-2019)
While it’s not a movie, per se, the Scream TV series belongs to the franchise, which is why I’m mentioning it on this list. It has a 7.1 IMDb rating after three seasons. The MTV-produced show is an anthology series revolving around a group of teenagers hunted down by another Ghostface. Is he one of them? Is he a random psycho? One has to see the series to find out.
While none of the original movie cast appears in the show, it’s quite amusing, and the young cast does a solid job of delivering a completely different vibe from the original. The show is created by Jay Beattie, Jill E. Blotevogel, and Dan Dworkin, while Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Kraus, John Karna, and others star in the main roles.
The series is imagined as a comedy and delivers some nice dark humor sequences, but if you’re looking for something resembling the original films, this won’t be the show for you.