Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the Scary Movie franchise, with a short explanation accompanying each:
#5 – Scary Movie 5
All I remember is the opening scene. Enough said.
#4 – Scary Movie 4
By “the Fourth and final chapter of the trilogy” the franchise had just become a poor collection of mini-parodies strung together with a random overarching parody. It has some particular scenes that I like such as the Saw parody (though that’s the opening) but it barely holds together.
#3 – Scary Movie 2
Scary Movie 2 is actually a good sequel and would place in second, but I’ll explain why it just misses out when I explain second place. What works is that it brings back favourite characters from the dead which, at this point in the franchise, was fresh and funny and it also works each parody into the overarching narrative – it doesn’t feel disjointed unlike later entries. Whether it is The Exorcist parody or quotable lines such as “Take my strong hand!”, it continues the style of the first film without deviating too far from what made it funny.
#2 – Scary Movie 3
As previously stated, Scary Movie 2 may deserve this spot but Scary Movie 3 takes it more so down to nostalgia than quality. It was a film that I watched with my brother so we had our “in-jokes”. That being said, it’s not a bad sequel. It deviates from the previous two films quite considerably but in doing so allows for the introduction of funny original characters and a broader array of subject material to parody. Though later films stray too far from horror and have nonsensical narratives, Scary Movie 3 treads new ground without forgetting its roots. I also love how low budget the aliens are!
#1 – Scary Movie
Yet again, the first film in a franchise takes the top spot – you seriously didn’t think I’d choose any of the sequels did you? Unlike the sequels which throw too many parodies and pop culture references at the audience for anything to make sense, Scary Movie exists in a believable world where the characters and situations seem completely believable. That’s because it knows what it is and sticks to that; a parody of teen slasher films. Where it deviates from horror it does so for the sake of comedy and not for lack of substance i.e. The Matrix parody doesn’t take the audience away from the narrative, it exists within the greater parody. Also, what adds another layer to the film for is the fact that Scream, the film in which the narrative parodies heavily, had a working title of… Scary Movie.