Scream 2 (1997)

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: Neve Cambell, Courteney Cox, Jamie Kennedy, David Arquette, Liev Schrieber, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jerry O’Connell, Timothy Olyphant

KILLER – “What’s your favourite scary movie?”
RANDY – “Showgirls.”

After slicing apart the horror genre and aiming knowing winks at many of its foibles in Scream, some felt that there wasn’t much opportunity to do the same in Scream 2 since so much had been covered already. By its very nature though Scream 2 provided Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson a chance to poke fun at one very important aspect of horror films that went unchallenged in the first film – sequels.

Set two years after the events of the first film, Scream 2 sees Sidney (Neve Campbell) at college with a bunch of new vict… um, friends. Sidney’s been getting hounded by the press because of a new movie called Stab, a ‘true story’ based on the events of the first film. As if that wasn’t bad enough, some students have been turning up dead too. Could there be a new killer following in the footsteps of the previous ones? Of course there is, it’s Scream 2.

"It's a good job the killer has a chronic case of narcolepsy," thought Susan

While the clever digs at horror convention and the ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ lines aren’t quite as frequent or obvious as they were in the original film, Scream 2 still has a bit of fun with the genre. The most entertaining dialogue-based scene in the first film – in which Randy teaches his fellow students the rules of horror movies – gets its own follow-up in which, during class, Randy and his peers discuss which movie sequels are better than the originals. Clearly they’ve never seen Return Of The Killer Tomatoes.

Don't be too upset, Ms Cox. Some people just didn't like Friends. Granted, this chap seems to be taking it a little bit too far

Much like in the first film, there are also a bunch of cameos stashed away for eagle-eyed viewers. Some are obvious – the Drew Barrymore role of ‘famous person who dies before the opening titles’ is this time taken by Jada Pinkett-Smith and Omar Epps – whereas others are more subtle. Keep an eye out for Heather Graham, Tori Spelling, Luke Wilson and writer Kevin Williamson all making brief appearances.

The ‘film within a film’ subplot also offers the filmmakers the chance to put the boot into another tired horror cliché, this time one propagated by the media – the copycat killer phenomenon. Wes Craven has covered press attitudes toward horror and its influence before in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and he’s no easier on the subject here. It’s claimed by the various new reporters throughout the film that the killer is doing this because they’ve been inspired by the Stab movie, a theory that (while understandable in this case, given the Ghostface mask and the like) is ultimately shot down when their true identity and motives are revealed. Take that, journalists!

The killer isn't a vampire, you stupid mare

Speaking of the ending, it’s underwhelming. While the film – much like the first Scream – is essentially a whodunit, with the audience trying to guess which of the supporting characters is the murderer, the revelation here is nowhere near as shocking as it was in the original movie with the same twist getting churned out again. What’s more, the killers’ identity turns out to be disappointingly predictable, as it turns out the guy who had the evil grin and looked like a killer all the way through the film ends up revealing he was the man behind the mask all along. In fact, he was so blatantly a killer that by the end of the film most audiences will have already passed him off as a red herring because he was too obvious.

Scream 2 is fun. It’s by no means as fresh, as mould-breaking or as engaging as the original film and many of the kills are about as tame as an abused pet (throwing someone off a roof off-screen? Come on), but when a film openly admits in its dialogue that sequels are never better then that should come as little surprise. Check out the first film instead and if you enjoyed that then give this a go, it’ll keep you amused throughout its two-hour duration.

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