Written and directed by horror great Wes Craven, equal parts corny slasher and murder mystery, Scream is undoubtedly one of the most well-loved horror franchises of all time. With the fifth instalment hitting cinemas today, join us as we look back on its four predecessors and prepare for what's in store for Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley once again.
Written by Becca Johnson
Let's go back to where it all started. In the fictional town of Woodsboro, California, teen Sidney Prescott becomes the target of a mysterious killer who dons a Halloween costume known as Ghostface. Sidney and her friends must contemplate the rules horror movies as they find themselves stuck in one, as teenagers continue to be murdered one by one in a brutal fashion.
It's safe to say that the first entry to the franchise is phenomenal. It cleverly combines black comedy with a 'whodunnit' mystery and gory slasher to create an entertaining thrill ride. As we have now seen it done so many times, it's easy to forget that Scream is the front-runner for self-aware horrors. It subverts our expectations by discussing regularly seen cliche's and creating a satire out of them. Though packed with slick laughs, it doesn't hold back with the gore, some very unique kills being filtered throughout the entire run-time. It's equally fun to put the pieces together alongside final girl Sidney, knowing that the killer is likely very close to our lead. Neve Campbell gives a terrific performance as Sidney, a character who is dealing with the murder of her Mother but must now attempt to be strong as she becomes a target herself. Courtney Cox is a fan-favourite scene stealer as Gale Weathers, a reporter who does everything within her power to get close to the case. David Arquette also gives a notable performance as sheriff Dewey Riley, who develops feelings for Gale Weathers. From the iconic first scene featuring Drew Barrymore's call with Ghostface to the killer reveal at the climax, Scream is full of twists, turns, blood, guts and laughs.
Scream 2 (1997)
Taking place two years after the first movie, Sidney is now at college, and Gale Weather's best-selling book based on Sidney's life has been made into a movie named 'Stab'. However, when two students are killed in a movie theatre whilst viewing 'Stab', Sidney fears that history is beginning to repeat itself. A copycat killer is on the loose, and its up to Sidney, Dewey and Gail to find out who is behind the murders, before they're dead themselves.
With a terrific opening scene, Scream 2 tries hard to follow in its predecessors footsteps. The performances are once again great, with satisfactory additions including Debbie Salt, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jada Pinkett Smith. The elaborately designed set pieces are gorgeous, from the sorority house to the play rehearsal that Sidney is part of. Sidney is developed well as a character, Campbell's performance once again becoming a highlight. We also begin to see a relationship blossom between Gale and Dewey, and though placed in the middle of a satirical horror, it feels natural and worth rooting for. Scream 2 allows you to form a tighter bond with its characters, the main element that makes you want to come back for more, no matter how many sequels. The whodunnit may be slightly less interesting that the first instalment, yet the mystery element is once again fun and well done. Unfortunately, Scream 2 suffers from pacing issues. Its two hour run-time doesn't feel warranted, and instead feels bloated with many scenes that act as fillers occasionally fall on the boring side.
Scream 3 (2000)
The third instalment takes our characters to Hollywood, on set of the 'Stab 3' production. Yet again, a murder spree begins to occur, yet this time it is directly targeted towards the original Woodsboro survivors and those associated with the 'Stab' movie. After putting the pieces together, Sydney, Gale and Dewey discover that the murders are taking place in the same order as those in the 'Stab 3' script, yet there's a catch; three scripts were written, meaning its impossible for the team to work out who truly is next.
It is agreed by most fans that Scream 3 is the weakest of the franchise. This instalment loses many of its fun slasher elements, falling into cheap jump scare territory at times, with basic kills that aren't as inventive as the ones we are used to. The script is full of contrivances and plot conveniences, not seeming as well-written as Scream and Scream 2. The murderer reveal is extremely forced, adding in a storyline that ultimately feels pointless. However, it is likely the most self-aware of the franchise thus far, adding in fun cameos and many hilarious lines. The commentary surrounding the disgusting behaviour of movie producers was well handled and unfortunately still relevant; the Weinstein brothers being credited as producers is now likely to put a sour taste in the mouths of its audience. Sidney Prescott's character arc continues to be improved upon, this instalment giving her many characteristics and traits that fit her character to a tee. Gale and Dewey also receive development with their relationship, becoming a power couple worth rooting for. The bond between Gale, Sydney and Dewey is the heart of the movie. It's impossible to review Scream 3 without mentioning Cox' haircut – really?!
Scream 4 (2011)
It's been many years since the Ghostface Killer's last exploits, and Sidney Prescott has written a self-help book to get over the trauma of the past events. Upon her return to Woodsboro for the book tour, reconnecting with Gale, Dewey, ther aunt Kate and cousin Jill, Ghostface also emerges, putting everyone she loves in danger, especially young Jill and her friends.
Scream 4 was written and directed much better than the previous instalment. It had more blood, more kills, more fighting and a huge amount of horror movie trivia. The performances were perfect, not just from returning actors but from new additions too. Hayden Panettiere killed it as Kirby, best friend of Jill, but it's Emma Roberts who shines as Sidney's cousin; she is a scene stealer who once again proves herself in the horror genre. It was probably the most meta of all, with an on the nose script that isn't afraid to mock itself yet show love for horror at the same time. Once again, the treatment of Sidney Prescott is perfect, proving why she's worthy of being a final girl favourite. It may have the second best killer reveal after the original, leading to the best action sequence the franchise has to offer. The script was a little judgmental of teenagers at times, placing their habits in a somewhat negative light which shows a slight lack of understanding towards them. Furthermore, the friendship and love between our three leads was a little bit lost due to the focus on new characters, which was a shame to see.
Scream (2022), taking place 25 years after the brutal murders in Woodsboro, will be the first of the franchise not directed by Craven due to his death in 2015. Though he will be missed, fans are also excited to see the return of Sidney, Gale and Dewey to our screens again. Introducing new directors and a huge cast of new actors, fans of the franchise are nervous to see how this sequel will go. Will it live up to its predecessors as a self aware gory slasher, or will it sacrifice itself to cheap jump scares and become a sequel we wish didn't exist? Find out this weekend!