All six iconic opening kills from the Scream films, ranked from average to savage
Justice for Casey Becker
Considering how famous and culturally significant the opener to the 1996 classic remains, no horror franchise has more hype and pressure on its opening sequence than Scream. It’s arguably the most anticipated part of the whole film, besides who is (or are) behind the Ghostface mask this time around. The opening kill sets the tone for the film – it’s vital that it’s nailed. I’m a die-hard fan of this franchise, and after much umming and ahhing I’ve definitively ranked every Scream opening kill sequence from all six films from average to savage.
6. Scream 3
The main issue with Scream 3’s opening kill sequence is the main issue with Scream 3 in general – that fucking voice changer. The whole point of the phone calls is Ghostface on the other end. If the killer can sound like anything he wants then why should we care? It makes it feel un-Scream like. I also just feel like a bog standard apartment stabbing for a character as important as Cotton is a waste – and who cares about his random girlfriend? I’m bored.
5. Scream 5
There’s an argument to be made about whether this should even count, bearing in mind no one even actually gets killed. It pains me to dislike anything with Jenna Ortega in, but nostalgia aside as the film recreates nods to the first ever opening kill sequence and references loads of modern horror films, Scream 5’s just is business as usual and fails to set itself apart.
4. Scream 4
Okay, we’re into the good stuff. Scream 4 has two fake outs. The film kicks off with two girls being stalked by a Facebook killer – but then it flips and we realise it’s Stab 6 being watched by Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell. Anna Paquin’s character slags off Stabs before Kristen Bell stabs her for talking too much. AND THEN IT’S REVEALED THAT THAT WAS STAB 7!
Great fun, and then the actual murder of Jenny and Marnie is a bit average but what comes before is such a gag that I’ll let if off.
3. Scream 6
Scream 6 certainly started with an absolute bang. I initially rolled my eyes at the quick disposal of Samara Weaving in an alley way – but the Ghostface taking off his costume and strolling back to his flat, walking past Tara and chatting with her and seeing how a completely different Scream film could have played out before being killed by the actual Ghostface(s) of Scream 6 was ingenious and a really refreshing twist on the formula. Loved it.
2. Scream 2
In terms of sheer thrill and inventiveness of its set piece, I think there’s a solid argument to be made that the opening kill sequence of Scream 2 is better than any other ranked here. If it wasn’t for the first’s game-changing nature, 2 is an absolute thrill. The film within a film vibe that follows the franchise in all the sequels begins here – and the cinema is the perfect setting for a murder. The multiple Ghostface costumes up the scares, and Jada Pinkett Smith is amazing.
The opening to Scream should be preserved in museums for all time for cultural impact alone. Every bit of it is the stuff of legend, from the brave decision to off big name Drew Barrymore so early to the phone call and self-awareness of horror and the genre’s tropes. The opening is menacing, tense and brutal. The bit where Casey’s parents come home and can hear her dying on the other end of the phone as Ghostface drags her dying body across the lawn? Magnificently harrowing.
So quotable, so referencable. A moment in cinema history that cannot be beaten – not even by its own franchise.
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