The Major Horror Movie Franchises, Ranked By Average Metascore

Metacritic’s scores for the Friday the 13th films are in line with the remainder of the review-based sites with one exception: Sean S. Cunningham’s original.

Cunningham’s classic set an oddly low bar on Metacritic with a score of 22. Most fans would disagree with that assessment, but there are a few entries in the franchise that general audiences and critics can agree on. There are more critical low points than highs, but several fan-favorite installments rise towards the top, namely Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter at 33 and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives at 30.

9 Saw — 36

James Wan’s 2004 modern horror classic, Saw, set a bar that only one sequel would pass. With that being said, the bar wasn’t that high, as the original film holds an average Metascore of only 46.

Like Friday the 13th in the ’80s, Saw became an annual horror franchise for the 2000s. And, also like F13, the opening installment isn’t the most critically revered. With that being said, only Saw III passed it with a Metascore of 48. From that point, critical and fan response dwindled until the core franchise wrapped up with the widely-dismissed Saw 3D. There were then two attempted reboots, but neither ended up being high points of the franchise.

8 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — 41

With nine installments and counting (the most recent being released in 2022), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has proven to have legs far beyond Tobe Hooper’s original subtle 1974 masterpiece.

Hooper’s installment is by far the most well-reviewed installment at 78. Then, Hooper’s bizarro sequel was released to a comparatively lacking but still respectable 42. The most surprising response was to the fourth movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, a highly controversial entry that still holds an impressive rating of 50 on Metacritic. From that point, there were a few more attempts at rebooting Leatherface, but steam had run out and none reached the heights of Hooper’s original or even TNG.

7 Halloween — 43

John Carpenter’s seminal Halloween (1978) started the franchise off high with universal critical acclaim, a Metacritic Must-See badge, and a Metascore of 87. Three years later, the score dropped significantly for the immediate sequel, Halloween II, which holds an average Metascore of 40.

The following four installments of the core franchise received responses far closer to Halloween II over Halloween and it wasn’t until the franchise was brought back to life with Halloween H20 that the Metascore rose above 50. However, Rob Zombie’s two installments dropped things below that bar before David Gordon Green again rebooted the franchise with Halloween (Metascore of 67) and Halloween Kills (42).

6 A Nightmare On Elm Street — 50

As one of the greatest slasher films of all time, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is the highest-rated installment of the franchise with a Metascore of 76.

Only one sequel came close to matching it, and it’s surprisingly not Dream Warriors. That third film received a 49 while its followup, The Dream Master, scored 56, despite it being seen as the beginning of the end for the franchise. No subsequent installment was considered superior by critics with the exception of Craven’s return to the franchise, New Nightmare. That smart, well-aged film is the second highest-rated entry with a 64 and goes to show that Wes Craven’s involvement went a long way.

5 Child’s Play — 51

Tom Holland’s Child’s Play kicked off one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time, one that’s continuing stronger than ever today. While Holland’s film holds a respectable yet average rating of 58, it would be topped, though not at first. After two fan-favorite sequels, critics didn’t take to, Ronny Yu’s Bride of Chucky brought the reviews back up with a 48. However, the next reboot, the direct-to-video Curse of Chucky, did even better with a 58. Then, the also direct-to-video Cult of Chucky bucked the DTV trend and scored positive critical reviews to the tune of a 69 Metascore.

The highest-rated installment is also the most recent, Syfy’s phenomenal Chucky. While it’s only one season in, the series functions as a film all its own, and it’s as canon as Curse or Cult. If any horror film franchise has managed to toy with its own formula to successful results from both professional reviewers and fans, it’s Child’s Play.

4 The Exorcist — 51

William Friedkin’s masterful possession movie The Exorcist set a bar so high that it was practically impossible for any sequel to come even close, and they never did.

The Linda Blair-starring original received glowing reviews in the form of a Metacritic Must-See Badge and a score of 81. The widely-maligned Exorcist II: The Heretic, however, didn’t even meet half the mark of the original. Then, while The Exorcist III did bring things back up to the point of average with a 48, Exorcist: The Beginning sunk even lower with a poor score of 30. Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, is the untainted version of The Beginning before studio heads butchered it, yet it could still only get up to a 55. Given both the critical responses and the overall reception from fans, there never should have been a sequel to The Exorcist, with the possible exception of the third installment’s director’s cut.

3 Scream — 59

The iconic whodunnit slasher film series Scream has been pretty well-reviewed across the board for a slasher franchise. Wes Craven’s Scream and Scream 2 received comparable marks from critics, with scores of 65 and 63, respectively. This is fairly in line with fan reception, as there’s been a long and widely-held take that the first two installments are of fairly equal quality.

Unfortunately, critical reviews for Scream 3 and Scream 4 were more middling than positive at 56 and 52, respectively. What’s surprising there is Scream 4 being deemed inferior to Scream 3, which is an assessment almost every fan of the franchise would stringently disagree with. Finally, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Scream (2022) did better than the two previous installments on Metacritic, but only to the tune of an average 60 Metascore. This, too, is a surprising score, as the 2022 film is almost universally seen as a successful return to form.

2 Hannibal Lecter — 62

Hannibal Lecter may not have much screentime in The Silence of the Lambs, but it’s still the installment for which he’s the most remembered and iconic. That film holds universal critical acclaim, a Metacritic Must-See Badge, and a rating of 85.

Anthony Hopkins’ brilliant take on the character continued in two installments: Ridley Scott’s Hannibal with an average Metascore of 57 and the prequel, Red Dragon, which did slightly better with critics to the tune of a still-average score of 60. However, the Hopkins-free young Lecter movie, Hannibal Rising, suffered from his absence and only netted an unfavorable Metascore of 35, though it does feature an excellent performance from the late Gaspard Ulliel.

1 Romero’s Dead Saga — 67

The late George A. Romero brought zombies into the mainstream with the politically prescient Night of the Living Dead, which earned a Metacritic Must-See Badge, universal acclaim from critics, and a score of 89. While the Metascore for Romero’s first sequel, Dawn of the Dead, is a bit lower at 71, fans consider it every bit as good as the first zombie survival tale. However, the lesser but still underrated Day of the Dead ended things on a more critically mixed note.

Almost 20 years later, Romero successfully brought zombies back with Land of the Dead, which surprisingly holds the same score as Dawn. With that said, Land works well and takes the franchise in some inventive directions, featuring terrific supportive performances from John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper. Unfortunately, the director’s final two Dead films didn’t meet that mark, as Diary of the Dead earned a 66 and Survival of the Dead received a lower score of 43.


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More information about The Major Horror Movie Franchises, Ranked By Average Metascore

Metacritic’s scores for the Friday the 13th films are in line with the remainder of the review-based sites with one exception: Sean S. Cunningham’s original.
Cunningham’s classic set an oddly low bar on Metacritic with a score of 22. Most fans would disagree with that assessment, but there are a few entries in the franchise that general audiences and critics can agree on. There are more critical low points than highs, but several fan-favorite installments rise towards the top, namely Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter at 33 and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives at 30.

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9 Saw — 36

James Wan’s 2004 modern horror classic, Saw, set a bar that only one sequel would pass. With that being said, the bar wasn’t that high, as the original film holds an average Metascore of only 46.
Like Friday the 13th in the ’80s, Saw became an annual horror franchise for the 2000s. And, also like F13, the opening installment isn’t the most critically revered. With that being said, only Saw III passed it with a Metascore of 48. From that point, critical and fan response dwindled until the core franchise wrapped up with the widely-dismissed Saw 3D. There were then two attempted reboots, but neither ended up being high points of the franchise.
8 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — 41

With nine installments and counting (the most recent being released in 2022), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has proven to have legs far beyond Tobe Hooper’s original subtle 1974 masterpiece.
Hooper’s installment is by far the most well-reviewed installment at 78. Then, Hooper’s bizarro sequel was released to a comparatively lacking but still respectable 42. The most surprising response was to the fourth movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, a highly controversial entry that still holds an impressive rating of 50 on Metacritic. From that point, there were a few more attempts at rebooting Leatherface, but steam had run out and none reached the heights of Hooper’s original or even TNG.

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7 Halloween — 43

John Carpenter’s seminal Halloween (1978) started the franchise off high with universal critical acclaim, a Metacritic Must-See badge, and a Metascore of 87. Three years later, the score dropped significantly for the immediate sequel, Halloween II, which holds an average Metascore of 40.
The following four installments of the core franchise received responses far closer to Halloween II over Halloween and it wasn’t until the franchise was brought back to life with Halloween H20 that the Metascore rose above 50. However, Rob Zombie’s two installments dropped things below that bar before David Gordon Green again rebooted the franchise with Halloween (Metascore of 67) and Halloween Kills (42).
6 A Nightmare On Elm Street — 50

As one of the greatest slasher films of all time, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is the highest-rated installment of the franchise with a Metascore of 76.
Only one sequel came close to matching it, and it’s surprisingly not Dream Warriors. That third film received a 49 while its followup, The Dream Master, scored 56, despite it being seen as the beginning of the end for the franchise. No subsequent installment was considered superior by critics with the exception of Craven’s return to the franchise, New Nightmare. That smart, well-aged film is the second highest-rated entry with a 64 and goes to show that Wes Craven’s involvement went a long way.

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5 Child’s Play — 51

Tom Holland’s Child’s Play kicked off one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time, one that’s continuing stronger than ever today. While Holland’s film holds a respectable yet average rating of 58, it would be topped, though not at first. After two fan-favorite sequels, critics didn’t take to, Ronny Yu’s Bride of Chucky brought the reviews back up with a 48. However, the next reboot, the direct-to-video Curse of Chucky, did even better with a 58. Then, the also direct-to-video Cult of Chucky bucked the DTV trend and scored positive critical reviews to the tune of a 69 Metascore.
The highest-rated installment is also the most recent, Syfy’s phenomenal Chucky. While it’s only one season in, the series functions as a film all its own, and it’s as canon as Curse or Cult. If any horror film franchise has managed to toy with its own formula to successful results from both professional reviewers and fans, it’s Child’s Play.
4 The Exorcist — 51

William Friedkin’s masterful possession movie The Exorcist set a bar so high that it was practically impossible for any sequel to come even close, and they never did.
The Linda Blair-starring original received glowing reviews in the form of a Metacritic Must-See Badge and a score of 81. The widely-maligned Exorcist II: The Heretic, however, didn’t even meet half the mark of the original. Then, while The Exorcist III did bring things back up to the point of average with a 48, Exorcist: The Beginning sunk even lower with a poor score of 30. Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, is the untainted version of The Beginning before studio heads butchered it, yet it could still only get up to a 55. Given both the critical responses and the overall reception from fans, there never should have been a sequel to The Exorcist, with the possible exception of the third installment’s director’s cut.

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3 Scream — 59

The iconic whodunnit slasher film series Scream has been pretty well-reviewed across the board for a slasher franchise. Wes Craven’s Scream and Scream 2 received comparable marks from critics, with scores of 65 and 63, respectively. This is fairly in line with fan reception, as there’s been a long and widely-held take that the first two installments are of fairly equal quality.
Unfortunately, critical reviews for Scream 3 and Scream 4 were more middling than positive at 56 and 52, respectively. What’s surprising there is Scream 4 being deemed inferior to Scream 3, which is an assessment almost every fan of the franchise would stringently disagree with. Finally, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Scream (2022) did better than the two previous installments on Metacritic, but only to the tune of an average 60 Metascore. This, too, is a surprising score, as the 2022 film is almost universally seen as a successful return to form.
2 Hannibal Lecter — 62

Hannibal Lecter may not have much screentime in The Silence of the Lambs, but it’s still the installment for which he’s the most remembered and iconic. That film holds universal critical acclaim, a Metacritic Must-See Badge, and a rating of 85.
Anthony Hopkins’ brilliant take on the character continued in two installments: Ridley Scott’s Hannibal with an average Metascore of 57 and the prequel, Red Dragon, which did slightly better with critics to the tune of a still-average score of 60. However, the Hopkins-free young Lecter movie, Hannibal Rising, suffered from his absence and only netted an unfavorable Metascore of 35, though it does feature an excellent performance from the late Gaspard Ulliel.

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1 Romero’s Dead Saga — 67

The late George A. Romero brought zombies into the mainstream with the politically prescient Night of the Living Dead, which earned a Metacritic Must-See Badge, universal acclaim from critics, and a score of 89. While the Metascore for Romero’s first sequel, Dawn of the Dead, is a bit lower at 71, fans consider it every bit as good as the first zombie survival tale. However, the lesser but still underrated Day of the Dead ended things on a more critically mixed note.
Almost 20 years later, Romero successfully brought zombies back with Land of the Dead, which surprisingly holds the same score as Dawn. With that said, Land works well and takes the franchise in some inventive directions, featuring terrific supportive performances from John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper. Unfortunately, the director’s final two Dead films didn’t meet that mark, as Diary of the Dead earned a 66 and Survival of the Dead received a lower score of 43.
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