Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the Scream franchise (I am not including the TV Series), with a short explanation accompanying each:
#4 – Scream 3
Not terrible, but it lacks the tension of previous films and the self-awareness doesn’t feel fresh and at times is too meta. That being said, the killer reveal wraps up the trilogy neatly even if it feels little contrived.
#3 – Scream 4
It may not have been as well received as previous installments but it tapped into (if a little too heavy handed at times) the celebrity/internet culture where you can become famous for literally anything. It just lacked scares and tension.
(It’s a real shame that there won’t be a Scream 5 or Scream 6)
#2 – Scream 2
Without feeling like a rehash, it manages to recreate the tension and scares of the first film without feeling dated and too self referential. It introduced the meta ‘Stab’ films into the franchise but did so without becoming a joke in itself.
#1 – Scream
When it comes to self referential/meta 90’s films, Scream certainly stands amongst the best and it is said to have breathed life into the slasher sub-genre of horror. Frights and tension don’t have to come from jump scares or gore, and can, as Scream proves, become more effective when juxtaposed with a lightness and comedic moments.