The original Scream was released all the way back in 1996, and it’s a somewhat misunderstood classic. The very existence of Scary Movie proves that some people just didn’t “get” Scream; it’s a postmodern deconstruction of the slasher film, so to parody it just seems silly. However, there are plenty of films inspired by Scream or carrying its flag of loving pastiche, so if you’re looking for movies like Scream, you’ll find plenty of options. With a new Scream among the movies coming in 2023, meanwhile, here are 15 movies similar to Scream (whether in message or execution) that you might enjoy if you love Wes Craven’s classic.
1. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (dir. Wes Craven, 1994)
Created by Scream’s Wes Craven, New Nightmare is a metafictional slasher movie in much the same way as his later magnum opus. It revolves around Freddy Krueger, who finds his way out of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and begins to terrorise the cast and crew of people making a movie about him. Eschewing corny slasher thrills in favour of genuine questions about horror, New Nightmare is a great movie to watch if you’re a fan of Scream.
2. The Cabin in the Woods (dir. Drew Goddard, 2012)
Unlike Scream and New Nightmare, The Cabin in the Woods’ horror satire is much more scathing. It’s a commentary on the way in which audiences consume slasher movies, in particular those that feature excessive gore, and the cynicism of the people involved behind the camera. Unfortunately, The Cabin in the Woods wasn’t seen by anywhere near enough people for it to achieve the kind of profile it deserves, so put this one on your list if you’re a fan of meta-horror.
3. Scream (dir. Radio Silence, 2022)
We’d be fools if we didn’t mention Radio Silence’s rather compelling follow-up-slash-requel to the original Scream. This one is all about the nature of reboots and sequels and whether or not they should ditch all of the previous elements of the franchise. It brings back many of Scream’s classic elements, but it comes with a new ironic edge that will be appealing if you loved the original’s satirical approach. It doesn’t quite have Scream’s bite, but the 2022 Scream is still great fun.
4. Halloween (dir. Michael Gordon Green, 2018)
Given that Scream is a commentary on horror, it stands to reason that 2018’s Halloween should be one of your ports of call if you’re looking for movies like Scream. Once again, it returns to the story of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, cleverly commenting on concepts like post-traumatic stress disorder and fleshing out Myers in a way that never feels too over-explanatory. The follow-up, Halloween Kills, isn’t worth bothering with, but this 2018 sequel is clever and compelling.
5. Arsenic and Old Lace (dir. Frank Capra, 1944)
You wouldn’t think that a movie from 1944 would share any of Scream’s DNA, but there’s more similarity between the two than you might think. Just like Scream, Arsenic is a black horror comedy that blends genuine fear with arch, wry commentary about the process of storytelling. Cary Grant is in fine form here as the clueless Mortimer Brewster, and there’s an edge to Arsenic and Old Lace that you might not expect if you go in expecting a sweet Hollywood classic.
6. Man Bites Dog (dirs. Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde, 1992)
Be warned: Man Bites Dog is very much not for the faint of heart. Its extremely violent content and general air of sadistic nihilism weren’t popular among viewers, but if you’re looking for a far more extreme take on some of Scream’s commentary about horror fans, then this is the movie you should check out. Take a strong stomach into Man Bites Dog and you will find a whip-smart, sharp satire, but be aware that you’re going to have to give as good as you get to enjoy it.
7. Urban Legend (dir. Jamie Blanks, 1998)
Jared Leto stars in this blatantly Scream-inspired horror flick about a killer who apes the kind of urban legends that teens would commonly spread amongst themselves during the pre-internet age. Myths like drinking Coke while eating pop rocks, the presence of a supposedly real scream during the song “Love Rollercoaster”, and Bloody Mary are all referenced, and some of them are the basis for some gruesome but creative kills, too. Again, this doesn’t have Scream’s edge, but it’s more fun than it got credit for.
8. The Faculty (dir. Robert Rodriguez, 1999)
Rodriguez’s tale of students who must fight alien parasites possessing their teachers is still just as sharp and funny as it was back in 1999. The American high school stereotypes on offer – jock, nerd, rebel – are all deconstructed with exactly the kind of irreverence you’d expect from a movie like this, and Rodriguez’s camera is just as kinetic and active as it is in his more action-oriented work. This might not be an outright “scary” film, but it’s certainly fun nonetheless.
9. Candyman (dir. Nia DaCosta, 2021)
The original Candyman, like many beloved slasher movies, wasn’t “just a horror film” (although that phrase is pretty insulting in and of itself); it discussed themes of race and class in 90s America. Director Nia DaCosta’s 2021 sequel does the same thing, revolving as it does around the story of a homeless man who hands out candy to children. Of course, there’s plenty of time for some truly grisly horror along the way, but Candyman is also thoughtful and considerate of its subject matter.
10. It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell, 2014)
Sometimes, a horror movie is just plain fun, and that’s enough to recommend it. Happily, It Follows also has plenty of thought-provoking themes to chew on; it’s about a supernatural monster that relentlessly pursues its victims, who must have sex in order to transfer the monster’s ire to their partner. There’s plenty to unpack there, but even if you’re not up for engaging with the intellectual side of the movie, It Follows is just downright terrifying, too
11. Funny Games (dir. Michael Haneke, 2007)
You can either watch the 2007 remake or the 1997 original if you want to get the idea behind Funny Games, although the 2007 version edges it slightly for us. This is excess as religion; Haneke has said he wanted to lampoon Hollywood’s over-reliance on gore and violence in movies, and Funny Games dials up those elements far beyond the point where it has any impact. What follows is a detached, ironic comment on gleefully violent movies, and one that might make you feel bad if you’ve ever enjoyed such a film.
12. Peeping Tom (dir. Michael Powell, 1960)
Yes, “that” Michael Powell. It’s a known fact that Powell and Pressburger were often completely out of step with the rest of British mainstream cinema, and Peeping Tom may as well be Michael Powell’s mission statement. It’s about a serial killer who records his victims’ last moments on camera, so the parallels between the killer’s voyeurism and Hollywood cinema are pretty obvious. This movie also arguably influenced pristine psycho-chillers like American Psycho.
13. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (dir. Eli Craig, 2010)
In horror movies, the “hillbillies” are usually the people to be afraid of. Not so in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, a movie in which the titular Tucker and Dale are genuinely nice, friendly people who just happen to be making a lot of decisions that make them look like horror villains. They’ve just bought a run-down cabin in the woods (because they genuinely love it). They’re living in the shadow of a past massacre. A group of college kids are exploring the area, and since college kids are usually the heroes, what follows is a series of blackly comic and often hilarious mishaps that subvert genre expertly.
14. Rubber (dir. Quentin Dupieux, 2010)
Rubber’s premise is inherently absurd, and the characters know it (as does the movie itself). It’s about a psychic tyre that kills people. Yes, really. The entire story is told as a sort of movie-within-a-movie (although it’s somewhat more complicated than that), but it’s not really important; everything in this film is a meta-commentary about itself and about the state of horror cinema in general. Some of Rubber might be just a little too clever-clever for its own good, but it delivers scares and laughs nonetheless.
15. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (dir. Scott Glosserman, 2006)
Leslie Vernon lives in a world in which killers like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are very real. He wants to be just like them, and so a film crew follows him as he works up to becoming the next serial killer legend. What follows is a commentary about horror cinema and the people who watch it, but also about how ridiculous emulating these characters would really be. As a mockumentary, this doesn’t have the same narrative feel as Scream, but it clearly follows in Wes Craven’s footsteps when it comes to the subject matter.