Keeping horror alive: The Scream franchise

The “Scream” franchise has accumulated over 900 million dollars at the global box office and approximately 517 million domestically. (Nik on

Max Spiegel and Aarushi Mandal

The “Scream” franchise remains one of the most famous and iconic slasher franchises of all time. Created by horror legend Wes Craven, director of the first four installments of “Scream”, the franchise has managed to do something that no other set of horror films has been able to accomplish.

The “Scream” movies have continued to consistently satisfy both fans of the films, as well as general audiences today. While the series certainly has films that are better than others, for the most part, the movies have continued to maintain their popularity since the premier of the original in 1996.

The franchise has a unique way of telling stories as compared to other horror movies. Each film in the series has a way of having meta commentary on the horror genre. The films in the series consist of multiple people playing the main antagonist known as Ghostface, creating a whodunnit style for the character.

A significant aspect of the franchise dating back to the first movie is the lead character being played by a female. In many horror movies, the main characters are typically males. The female characters usually portray a stereotype in which they follow the male lead or wait to be saved. Many older horror movies such as “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” followed this format, however, “Scream” managed to break that habit.

The “Scream” franchise incorporates elements of classic horror, one of the primary contributors keeping the movies fun and relevant over the years. Atmosphere, gore, suspense and an element of surprise are all factors that lead to the success and fan appeal of these movies. Ghostface remains a consistent villain throughout the franchise. His classic m.o. and overall fear factor stay true to the original, helping in maintaining a sense of familiarity for older fans.

What truly sets “Scream” apart from other films in the modern horror genre, is that the movies refrain from trying too hard to be different. While there may coincidentally be something unique to the films, their focus is not to be revolutionary within the genre. The franchise sticks to the classic elements of horror and leaves successful aspects of the movies untouched. People do not consume the franchise for their revolutionary aspect, but for the familiarity with their content while still keeping it new and relevant.

By giving the movies a similar premise, audiences know what to expect, yet they never get bored. Each film successfully builds suspense and a plot of its own even though the backstory remains similar throughout the franchise. The “Scream” movies have perfected characterization in the horror genre; they keep characters interesting, but they never let them take away from the villain or element of horror itself.

While the franchise’s sequels take place after one another, the cast of characters tend to change with each film. In fact, in “Scream (2022),” the franchise introduced an entirely new set of characters, consisting of popular actors such as Jenna Ortega and Jack Quaid. While such as change may seem drastic, it worked impeccably, even attracting a new audience of young people towards the films.

The films continue to be fueled by suspense, anticipation and the occasional jump scare. Combined with entertaining characters and a developing plot, something that many modern horror movies lack, the scream franchise remains an excellent example of horror done well.

An aspect of “Scream” differentiating it from other horror films or even remakes of so-called “classics” is its target audience. Oftentimes a remake or sequel will attract an older crowd of people who grew up with the original. However, “Scream” doesn’t rely so heavily on an element of nostalgia. In fact, their target audience of teenagers and young adults remain the same with the release of each film.

The franchise appeals to younger people, even some who have never watched the original. The movies being able to stand alone and still conjure their own set of fans speak volumes to the quality of the franchise, and something that continues to be “Scream’s” strong suit.

The “Scream” franchise pays homage to the horror genre. The movies don’t stray from the formula of a good horror movie. Instead they utilize so-called “stereotypical” elements and don’t deviate from their strengths. The consistency of the movies even with a changing cast allows the “Scream” franchise to be a timeless set of films and a showcase of true horror.