The success of Scream in 1996 saw a sequel pretty much guaranteed. So only a year after the first films release we got Scream 2. Directed again by Wes Craven with a returning cast that includes Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox & Jamie Kennedy. Along for the ride this time we also get Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jerry O’Connell & Liev Schreiber who was briefly in the first movie but has a much bigger role here.
With such a star-studded cast, it’s really disappointing to see Scream 2 basically re-thread the same story. While also rely on way more coincidences & luck based situations. Stuff that when you stop to think about make very little sense. The cleverness we saw in the original is gone. Here the parodies of cliched horror that made the first so interesting become the movies crutch. There is a shocking amount of lazy jump scares, fake-outs & pointless ‘horror movie’ conversations.
Set one year after the Woodsboro murders, the events depicted in Gale Weathers’ (Cox) book have been made into a movie called Stab. At the premiere two Windsor College students are brutally murdered by someone in a Ghostface mask.
The next day the media turn up at Windsor College where Sidney Prescott (Campbell) now studies alongside her best friend Hallie (Elise Neal), Randy (Kennedy), her boyfriend, Derek (O’Connell) & his buddy, Mickey (Timothy Olyphant). It’s not long before Gale turns up to cover the story followed by Dewey (Arquette) who suffered nerve damage from his stabbing in the first film.
Naturally Sidney tries to stay out of the spotlight but when Gale surprises her by bringing Cotton Weary (Schreiber) for an impromptu interview Sidney reacts by once again punching Gale. Both Dewey & Cotton are furious with Gale. The former disappointed that she hasn’t changed her ways & the latter because he thought Sidney knew he was coming.
Since being released from prison following his exoneration for the murder of Sidney’s mother, Cotton has tried to cash in on his fame feeling as though he is owed that at least.
With all the cast introduced it’s not long until a local sorority girl is killed by Ghostface & while all attention is diverted to that, the killer goes after Sidney. On this occasion, she manages to fight it off. However, she is left reeling afterwards as she realises that the horror is not over yet.
With absolutely no links to who the killer could be, everyone is a suspect. Is it Gale Weathers? Desperate to cling onto the one thing that made her famous? Is it the mild-mannered Dewey? Driven crazy by his injures? Maybe it’s Randy? Having been inspired by the killings & wanting to ‘up the ante’ for a sequel? Surely, it’s not the boyfriend, Derek though?
Unfortunately, the final reveal is disappointingly lacking & kind of obvious after a certain point in the movie. The attempts to lead you down the wrong path amount to little more than characters looking at each other & saying, ‘you could be the killer’. Hardly inspired stuff.
At 120 minutes, Scream 2 drags its heel for far too long. Attempts to show the emotional impact that these situations are having on Sidney just don’t work. For such a brutal situation that occurred only a year before her best method of protection is ‘caller ID’. She still behaves foolishly when it comes to wandering off on her own & making bold presumptions about who could be the killer.
Scream’s thing of pointing out horror clichés & making fun of them starts to fall really flat here when the movie still does them all anyway. The amount of jump scares that involves another person suddenly coming out of nowhere to surprise a character is infuriating. Add irrational behaviour, characters wandering off on their own for no good reason & an annoyingly heavy amount of ‘rational’ conversations about horror movie sequels as a whole & what you’re left with is less of a fun poke at horror & more of a parody of a freakin’ parody.
Where Scream does excel though is with both its cast & its bloodshed.
Neve Campbell can do this role in her sleep, she’s a great actress & her part here can have few complaints. Others though…well, it’s certainly a mixed group of performances. The villain of the piece, once revealed, is laughably cheesy. With some of the most cringe-worth dialogue of the entire film series. The standout performances & emotional pull comes from the extension of the Dewey/Gale storyline. Their scenes are often the most compelling to watch & they are the duo that you end up rooting more for than anyone else.
Scream 2 is not light on gore, thankfully. The murders here have as much brutality as the first but with an increased body count. Here, the film doesn’t shy away from killing off important characters but still stops short of adding any real finality on events.
Scream 2 feels like a small step-forward for a sequel that was already planning a third. It feels as though they wanted to ensure they left themselves plenty of wiggle-room to tell one more story. However, because of that it ends up feeling far too much a repeat of what we’ve already seen.