Panic had a big impact when it debuted in 1996 not only because it was the “new” film by Wes Craven, but because it managed to create a horror whose ending was completely unpredictable by the standards of the genre at the time. The roaring success of the fake movie the stab (Stab) shown from Panic 2 it’s a real reflection of how successful the franchise has been, that it has dialogued with the audience in a way that (very) we rarely see.
Since then, the franchise has gained three sequels in 1997, 2000, 2011; now, it awaits a fifth chapter whose premiere is scheduled for 2022. But which one is better Panic released so far? Well, it depends. The best one to watch for the first time, of course, is the first one. The best in terms of revolutionizing cinema is also obvious, as the franchise’s debut dictated the malleable formula that is repeated in other films.
It is difficult to qualitatively order a franchise as well thought out as Ghostface and it would be possible to say that the qualitative order coincides with the debut order, because the complexity of the films increases with each production due to the incredible accumulation of lessons. However, it is undeniable that the films have suffered the tests of time and, today, some things are starting to seem out of tune.
With this in mind, we organized the list thinking about which films sound best for today’s contemporary audience, which is precisely the one who is about to witness the premiere of the first film in the franchise that will not be directed by master Wes Craven. But before you think we’re causing controversy, remember: the opinions exposed here should serve to reflect and broaden the discussions about the film. If you disagree with the proposed order, take advantage of the comments space to make your own ranking and say which is the best Panic according to their experiences. After all, the show is also about having fun, knowing and thinking… about horror.
Attention! From here, the text contains several spoilers of the Scream franchise.
Yes, this is the most iconic, the original. But there are already several things that have gone “out of fashion” and, today, it’s not so difficult to get the ending right, although the script remains excellent. If you know this is a horror franchise and about horror, you can pick up the clues from the beginning, something that didn’t happen when the movie opened and caught everyone by surprise.
The first Panic (1996) is also a huge eulogy of horror. Even though villains are villains and we hope for their death, they help us understand the passion for the genre. Luckily for fans, the real horror nerd is not the murderer, and it becomes one of the most important pieces in understanding the “rules of horror” that guide the murders.
Despite being amazing and brilliant to this day, Panic it gets smaller and smaller over the years, because each chapter expands the franchise in a way never before seen (?). Following the cycle in which art imitates life and life imitates art and so on, Panic ends up becoming the most distant film from the contemporary audience, making the production half comic and even half trash for the eyes of fans who are coming now. But before you think about cursing the first movie, listen to the fourth warning. The beginning is just the beginning, proving that the original is not always the best, even though it has earned respect.
3. Panic 2
Although the list was in chronological order, Panic 2 (1997) is only in third place because the third film took a super significant step in the franchise. A very important step that makes the title deserve second place. The sequel to the original is also the darkest movie of all, critically questioning the consequences of horror and popularizing a myth (apparently) unintentionally.
The first film was a fever and, in fact, the blood and the deaths turned into commerce and hype, with Panic becoming a true pop phenomenon. But this is nothing new and many movies have done this before. Even though, Panic became a target and the second film delves deep into self-criticism. In the end, however, the killer of the time is passionate and the cinema expert dies very quickly, losing a little the “essence” of a killer who is a horror nerd, even though, at the same time, he paid a beautiful tribute to Friday 13.
2. Panic 3
Panic it blew minds with the unpredictable ending and discreet introduction of metalanguage, while the second film deepened the last element and incorporated the film based on the story of the first film, the fake-Scream called the the stab (“Stab”, in the original in English). Panic 3 (2000) goes much deeper into the roots of slasher and begins to provide new elements to the franchise, influenced by the father of this American subgenre, which is the giallo Italian.
In the third film the metalanguage becomes much more intense with a film within a film, and here, Panic manages to explore the criticisms and praise for the success of Deadly Games, the gore and half-trash son of the Wes Craven franchise. The fourth is the title that takes the first from the position of being absolutely original in a chain and puts it in the middle of a web that reveals the workings of art and, perhaps, of life itself: a beautiful “deal with it” played with great elegance in our face. This is also a movie that teaches us a lot about the history of slasher, mixing productions from the present, the past and the future in a brilliant and not anachronistic way.
1. Panic 4
The first three films have a lot of laughable moments and it’s possible to question them in the same way he analyzes his own time. Panic is, with each new story, simultaneously a symptom and a provocation, making it easier to understand why Panic 4 (2011), the most recent, is the one that most dialogues with us. This was the chapter where the production freed up money for the art department to finally spend on vats of blood, a big draw even 11 years later.
Panic 4 marks the trend towards a more realistic terror and, with that, the violence gets much heavier and approaches the big ones slashers contemporaries. Metalanguage does not get out of control, because it makes sense, but it reaches levels of complexity that demand the attention (and knowledge) of the viewer, which we give easily and willingly. If in the first film, knowledge of the genre helped you determine the killer and who was next to die, in the fourth film, knowledge turns against the viewer and is used to confuse us, explaining that a remake or one reboot it can be everything, as long as it doesn’t mess with the original.
Given everything we’ve thought so far, we can choose Panic 4 as the best in the franchise for giving an exceptional closure in the hands of Wes Craven, closing an arc perfectly and wrapping the franchise as a gift to the next filmmaker, who will carry the responsibility of expanding this encyclopedia of horror on his shoulders.
And Panic 5?
Of course, we can compare the fifth film with the old four, but we will need to be aware: a new cycle is likely to begin, despite the return of the surviving central characters. We can think of this simply because the franchise is no longer in Craven’s hands. The fourth film was the closing of a philosophical manual and a warning. The fifth film will be directed by filmmaker duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who directed Bloody Wedding. New directors, new ideas. A new terror, a new phase. Let’s be reasonable.
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