We All Scream for Ghostface

In preparation for the new Scream, I did another mega-watch of all the movies. It was easier than my previous journeys, because there are only five Scream films and they’re way less messy, timeline-wise, than some of the other franchises.

This was kind of a similar process to my Halloween saga, where I got to finish it off by seeing the latest installment in theaters. My viewing order rec is simple—just go from the first to the latest.

First of all, what can I say about Scream? It’s iconic, it’s hilarious, it arguably holds responsibility for making horror a self-aware genre—this is one of the greats, not just in horror but in film itself.

Here’s the lowdown (as usual, SPOILER WARNING for all 5 films). Sidney Prescott, the horror world’s coolest Final Girl, is stalked by someone in a robe and mask who likes to slice up teenagers. And every time she kills the guy, someone else picks up the mask.

Meanwhile, in parallel, her story is made into a movie series called Stab, which allows the writers to parody their own film within itself.

First, let me hit you with some stats.

My ranking:

  1. Scream (1996): No topping it
  2. Scream (2022): A sequel worthy of the first one
  3. Scream 2: Genuinely spooky but not afraid to get ridiculous with it
  4. Scream 4: This film is fun and has Kirby, my favorite side character of all
  5. Scream 3: Solid but not incredibly memorable

I’m also ranking the intros, because iconic openers are a hallmark of the franchise.

  1. Scream (1996). Look, this was a hard one, because it feels too easy just to give it to the first one, but come on, the Jiffypop? Hearing the voice for the first time? Casey’s inability to call to her parents as they walk in? It’s iconic for a reason.
  2. Scream 4. The writers aren’t afraid to get kind of silly with how meta they go for this intro, and it works. We get fooled twice before we hit the “real” movie, and I’m guessing the writers enjoyed the scene where Blondie-Who-Liked-The-Film stabs Blondie-Who-Criticizes-The-Film to death.
  3. Scream 2: Meta intro that’s funny but also a little chilling. Jada Pinkett-Smith’s moment in front of the movie screen is one I won’t forget, and maybe the battle on the stage is a little corny, but I love how atmospheric it is. Plus, “the bad guy’s mom is also the bad guy” works just as well in the 2020s as it did when Mrs. Voorhees terrified us all back in the ‘70s.
  4. Scream (2022): Back to the “intro actually has important plot details” shtick, which works pretty well. We’ve got a teenage girl naming horror movies on the phone, and this one is actually pretty good at it! She even uses Google.

(Side note: lots of cool gimmicks using the characters’ smart phones in this film. It’s well done: doesn’t ignore the plot-breaking devices like some films, nor does it make them the focus. Props for not simply filling in the plot hole caused by a stray iPhone by losing them/draining the battery/inexplicably knocking out the network.)

  1. Scream 3. Doesn’t hold up, compared to the others. Nothing meta or clever, just two characters we don’t like that much getting sliced and diced.

Ghostface Killcount: Thanks, scream.fandom.com! I counted anyone who is killed by someone wearing a Ghostface mask or someone confirmed to be a Ghostface but who has now been unmasked.

I didn’t count Ghostface’s onscreen kills if they occurred in the in-universe Stab films. I also counted only a final kill—if someone comes back, the only kill that matters is the one who finally does them in.

All that being said, since the Ghostfaces are different each time, it’s worth giving each their own count—but we don’t always know who did what when two people were wearing the suit.

  • Billy and Stu’s Killcount: 6 (3 for Stu, 2 for Billy, and 1 unaccounted for, but it’s probably safe to assume attribute this one to Billy, since it’s Maureen Prescott).
  • Loomis and Mickey’s Killcount: 8 (7 for Mickey, 1 for Mrs. Loomis.)
  • Roman’s Killcount: 9
  • Jill and Charlie’s Killcount: 10 (7 for Jill (including Charlie), 3 for Charlie)

(Craven has said Kirby is a possible survivor of this film, which would bring us down to 9)

  • Amber and Richie’s Kill Count: 5

Giving us a total Ghostface Killcount at 38 (or 37 if Kirby lived).

And, because she’s awesome, we’ve also got the Sidney Prescott Killcount at 3. Her friends don’t do a bad job either—Gale clocks in at 2 and Dewey at 1.

Finally, here’s my review of the newest Scream. Which isn’t Scream 5. Except…it basically is.

Before I dive into exactly what Scream (2022) is, let me first say it’s good. I enjoyed it. There are a few points where the dialog isn’t great (“Yes today!”) springs to mind, but it checks all the boxes of a great Scream movie: meta and knows it’s meta, great opening sequence, incredibly likeable cast fit for slicing up (insert an entire post about how much I love Mindy here), a well-tailored and satisfying “Who’s Under The Mask” mystery, and wonderfully obvious sequel bait.

Also, (and this is super personal and petty), I hate Judy Hicks SO MUCH. Scream 4 disappointed me by letting her live (nothing is more infuriating than when your least favorite character makes it through a goddamn slasher movie), but Ghostface killed her in this movie and it was extremely gratifying. 10/10 for that alone.

So why am I quibbling about what this film is? Because I think there’s more to it than meets the eye. Let me start with a question.

I know I said it before, but HUGE SPOILER BELOW.

What do we think about the fact that they killed Dewey?!

To me, this marks Scream as something different that the recent remakes horror films have seen (think Friday the 13th and Child’s Play) and yet also something different that the reboots and legacy sequels (ie Halloween (2018)) that have also abounded.

Where a legacy sequel lovingly keeps to the formula, this film takes a few big diversions.

Scream calls itself a requel, which fits pretty well, but honestly? I think this movie is a regular old sequel. It just happens to be super good.

See the whole “I’m Billy Loomis’ daughter!” thing. You don’t pull the “protagonist related to the baddie” card in a reboot; you pull it mid-franchise. See Jason Goes To Hell, for example. Or don’t, because it’s terrible. Just take my word for it. See Halloween II instead.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think Scream is a tired franchise being revivified. The fact that a huge plot change (killing one of the main three survivors) shakes the formula up means the franchise hasn’t been exhausted.

It doesn’t need rebooting, because there’s still plenty of story. We’re not at the point of sending Ghostface to space or starting over from the beginning with better CGI. We are still in in the thick of this tale.

Which means that Scream (2022) markets itself as a legacy sequel, but that’s not quite what it is. It’s also not an entirely new creation (we’re not talking Babadook here, reference intended). Honestly, it’s closer to franchises that still have a lot of steam, like the Conjuring universe.

Unlike Friday, Halloween, Nightmare, etc., Scream is still on an upward trajectory. It hasn’t gotten lousy and needed rescuing yet. Maybe this is because is significantly younger than its siblings Freddy, Michael, Jason, Pennywise and so on, or maybe it’s because there have been fewer movies pumped out.

Scream still has plenty in store for us, and who knows—once the franchise does eventually lose steam, it might get its own remake. If we’re still rebooting horror franchises in ten years or so—I’m not sure if I hope the answer is yes or no.

…What I’m saying here is that Ghostface could still go to space.