The world of Scream has an interesting history. The franchise surprisingly took off in 1996, expertly being a satirical, whodunit slasher film that has remained a prominent figure in the horror genre since its release. Since the critical and commercial success of the Wes Craven feature, four sequels have been released and even an MTV spin-off series. But is that too much? Has the cash cow been milked dry at this point? To the credit of the filmmakers in the sequels and spin-offs, the series has maintained a relatively higher critical and audience score, with Scream 3 ranking the lowest with a 41% rotten tomatoes score. Heck, Scream 2 actually has a higher review score than the iconic first film. However, was there ever a need for a sequel? The franchise has proven that a great movie can come out of the world of Scream, but it’s easily agreed upon that none of the sequels or spin-offs have left as much of a permanent mark as the first film.
The most talked-about moment is the opening scene is the death of Casey Becker. Rarely does anyone discuss Jada Pinkett Smith’s character dying in a crowded theater, or the shocking murder of Cotton Weary. However, it was never going to be an easy task to live up to the original movie. Not every franchise can be Toy Story or The Godfather, though Scream has luckily avoided being The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, which has failed to do anything good following the first film in 1974. The issue isn’t whether the franchise was able to live up to the expectations of the first movie, but if Wes Craven simply left the movie as a one-and-done feature, would there be a need for a sequel? The film pretty much answers all the questions asked throughout the feature. Sure, there’s still plenty of mystery surrounding Sidney’s father, Neil Prescott (who has rarely existed in the series) and the story of Maureen Prescott could’ve been an interesting avenue to explore. Still, there was never a need for another Scream. The series barely scratches the surface on the unseen antagonist force (Maureen Prescott) who is pretty the reason this whole thing has started.
One of the underlying issues with the series is that there’s too much focus on Sidney Prescott. Though that changes in the latest film (don’t worry I won’t spoil anything here), the story of Sidney Prescott could’ve comfortably ended following the first film and it still would’ve had the impact that it does now. This isn’t to say that the sequels are bad. And the films following Scream do actually justify their own existence. The overall lore of Scream is the whodunit experience and satirical edge, which has been lost in translation in the past. Still, everything about the first film was nearly perfect. It had the right balance of comedy and horror. Randy Meeks is still considered one of the best supporting characters in a horror movie franchise. The film never gets lost in trying to be smarter and superior than the audience, cleverly playing off the tropes that dominated the genre for a long period of time. Those are the key ingredients that have been sorely mixing in the sequels. Scream 2 made fun of tropes of horror sequels, and most of the installments still have that satirical edge to them, but most of that has disappeared because there’s only so much you can mock in a genre that doesn’t particularly have much depth to begin with.
Plus, there’s only so many times that you can keep having Sidney Prescott as the focal point of this franchise. Granted, the series did a solid job of venturing outside of the world of Sidney Prescott, but there’s a certain staleness in regards to Neve Campbell’s iconic character. It’s understandable why filmmakers continue to use horror’s popular final girl, but it’s gotten to a point where Sidney Prescott has become a trope in the slasher franchise itself. Hollywood being Hollywood, it makes sense why sequels were made. Money obviously, but just because a franchise is lucrative doesn’t mean that adds much value or prestige to the cinema world. Executives continued reliance on the Scream franchise just exemplifies the sad state the slasher genre is. When you explore the genre in the past 22 years, exactly what slasher feature has made as much of an impact as Scream, Halloween, or A Nightmare on Elm Street? There’s been good ones no doubt, but none that has spawned the iconic status of the films mentioned above. As I previously stated, the Scream sequels were never needed and until Hollywood can finally get a new slasher franchise to be as lucrative and iconic as the ones mentioned above, expect more milking out these brands.