Scream: A teenage girl named Sidney is attempting to cope with her mother’s mysterious murder while her horror movie-obsessed friends are stalked by an unknown killer who seems to have a hard time letting the past go. It begins with a phone call and a simple question: “What is your favourite scary movie?”
Scream 2: Two years after the events of the first movie, Sidney Prescott is attending Windsor college and trying to get on with her life… until a new Ghostface killing spree begins. With the help of Dewey and Gale, Sidney must find out who’s behind the murders. As the body count goes up, the list of suspects goes down.
Scream 3: A new Stab film is currently in production, and a new killer is on the loose. The murders draw Sidney, Gale, and Dewey to the studio that’s producing the movies and the new murders. They soon find out that they are dealing with a trilogy, and in the last movie of a trilogy… anything can happen.
Scream 4: Sidney, now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey and Gale, as well as her cousin Jill and her Aunt Kate. Unfortunately, Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.
Amelia: There’s not much I can say about Scream that hasn’t been said before. It’s revolutionary how Craven took the standard horror movie tropes and called them out just as much as he used them within the film. It’s a self-aware jaunt through a very meta landscape. It’s New Nightmare to an extreme. And it’s kind of a shame that it’s been parodied as much as it has because the ending is a pretty great reveal.
Billy: Oh man, the finale of the first Scream movie was the best thing ever. I don’t have a bad word to say about Matthew Lillard. They play psychotic on all the right notes to really put the viewer on edge. They were pretty interesting throughout the film, really, but the performance in the final act is just on a completely other level. I love how it’s a horror movie without any supernatural elements. And let’s not forget what a twist it was, either. TWO killers? Nobody had done that before. Definitely inspired mostly by Halloween, it’s clear that Wes Craven actually knows how to make a slasher scary.
Amelia: I didn’t care for Scream 2. It’s a bunch of little things all combined that made this kind of a slog for me. Like, Jerry O’Connell is charming as fuck, but that singing stunt in the cafeteria annoyed me. As did seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar here. Something about her in feature films gets right under my skin. Then there’s the part where Sidney is in a dress rehearsal for her play that felt unnecessary. And the way her boyfriend dies. And the Mrs. Voorhees angle of the killer didn’t thrill me.
Billy: I never thought I’d mourn for Jamie Kennedy, but I did. I spent a lot more time in Scream 2 tonight trying to figure out who the murderer was, since I unfortunately already knew the ending of the original film from watching it before. The Mrs. Voorhees ending was something I really appreciated here. One of the biggest, most iconic twists in horror. You have to pay it reverence, even if Roseanne’s sister was fairly obvious from the beginning. I agree that we didn’t really need Sidney in a play. It didn’t suit her direction as a character, and while I’ll never pass up an opportunity for David Warner to cameo, it felt like something Neve Campbell wanted to do more than Sidney.
Amelia: I’ll probably get a lot of shit for this, but I enjoyed Scream 3 the most. Yeah, yeah, I can hear your indignant screams of rage on the wind already, just calm your tits and let me explain. Scream and Scream 2 were heavily featured in the first Scary Movie and I actually ended up watching those before any of the Scream franchise. Don’t judge okay, I went to a lot of sleepovers at houses that had older brothers and shit like that would just be available to watch. Anyways, since Scary Movie is like, word for word on the first two movies, there wasn’t much there for me to be intrigued about because I already knew the structure.
But then the third one comes along and this one hadn’t been parodied in Scary Movie, or maybe it has and I didn’t pay enough to later entries in that series (but if I didn’t, could you blame me it was mostly peer pressure that lead me to watch them in the first place). I love that the third Scream brings in these little supernatural blips and then explains them with the very believable story of Sidney’s PTSD. And the subversion of the trope that the killer will come back to life for a final scare being, not the villain, but Sidney. But then it was also totally the villain! I love the actress that plays the movie version of Gale too. She was legitimately the person I was most upset to see die! And it was fun. It felt like it was all coming to an end so what the fuck, go a little crazy. Sure, the ending was a little hackneyed, but that was always the point! Wes Craven loves him some meta!
Billy: I kind of disagree on this. I still liked Scream 3, but it was the first time I felt like the actors were getting just a little too old for their parts. To be honest, the in-universe Stab franchise is probably one of my least-favourite additions to the series. It took the idea of subverting horror movie expectations and just cranked it up too far past eleven to my tastes. Setting a whole movie in that world was a little much for me. There were parts I liked, of course. Sidney running through the reconstructed set of her home is pretty amazing, and I would have to be a monster if I didn’t love seeing the tape that Randy made before his untimely demise. It’s not bad, just not my overall favourite.
Amelia: I didn’t care for Scream 4 either. This clocks in lower than the second one in my opinion. One, it looks like a made-for-TV movie with the angles and filters being used. Two, it’s so clear how long a gap between this and the last one were made and it’s off-putting. Three, the end of Scream 3 was truly a cap for the story and the characters. Four, I fucking hate Emma Roberts. She’s a fairly terrible actress and is an abusive piece of shit to her boyfriends. I don’t want to support her. Fuck that. Five, if David Arquette squints into the camera one more time, I’m going to lose my fucking mind. I think the only parts of this movie I enjoyed were the character Kirby and casting someone from the Culkin family as the villain.
Billy: I have more love for Scream 4 than I genuinely thought I would going in. What could have been a heartless extension of the series was instead used to explore the “rules” of reboots, something that wasn’t even in play when the first Scream movie was made in 1996. The ending was killer. Probably the most excited I had been for the ending of a Scream movie since the original. It completely took me by surprise and subverted my expectations. While I could have done without the overly harsh filters and overblown lighting, I suppose there were some allowances to be made to keep the nineties cast as involved as they were. And in the end, this whole movie was worth it for Hayden Panettiere’s haircut and her cocked eyebrow when they say you have to be gay to survive. I see you, girl.
Amelia: Seven stabbings out of ten for Scream
Five and a half stabbings out of ten for Scream 2
Seven and a half stabbings out of ten for Scream 3
Four stabbings out of ten for Scream 4
I didn’t find any of the Scream movies scary or even that tense really. There wasn’t ever a moment when I wanted to look away or I couldn’t anticipate when a jumpscare was coming. They were intriguing films and very coherent with Neve Campbell always starring and Wes Craven always directing, just not scary in the way I find scary.
Billy: Eight and a half stabbings out of ten for Scream
Six and a half stabbings out of ten for Scream 2
Five stabbings out of ten for Scream 3
Seven stabbings out of ten for Scream 4
I wasn’t scared by Scream at any point but maybe somewhere near the end of the original, but I don’t think you were supposed to be. You were supposed to have a different experience with these movies, a more complex experience that got you thinking about what watching horror meant and how you could experience other horror movies differently. I appreciated how cohesive the franchise was as a whole, even keeping the reboot in line with the original movies. Like Sidney said at the end, “don’t fuck with the originals”. They’re a fantastic marathon. I could really go into more depth about Billy and Stu, but I won’t. Their legacy speaks for them.