Following Scream’s surprise long-term success at the box office, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson reunited as director and writer just a year later to release Scream 2. Known for his dislike of horror sequels, Craven was sure to take the self-awareness of the first film and amplify it for the sequel. Scream 2 is not only a commentary on horror films, but horror sequels, which adds a whole new set of rules. I think a lot of viewers enjoyed Scream 2, but I was not one of them. This was by far my least favorite in the franchise. The cleverness of the first film seemed lost and only shined through sporadically. And the lack of true scare provided by Scream was missing even more in this one as the film ran entirely too long and was pretty boring.
Scream 2 features the protagonist, Sidney, now in college. She doesn’t get out much, and her new friends (plus one surviving friend, Randy) and boyfriend do their best to convince Sidney that the past is over and she needs to move on. It’s tough to move on, though, as a horror film entitled “Stab” has just been released. The film is based on the book “The Woodsboro Murders”, written by our favorite news anchor, Gale Weathers. Sometimes I get the plots of each Scream film confused, but then I’m able to separate them by Courtney Cox’s horrific hairstyles in each one. Scream 2 is the short bob with awful red streaks film. As Stab releases, Ghostface returns and sets out to terrorize and kill college co-eds.
Once again, the best feature of this film is it mocks itself. It still has Randy, with his horror rules, which are now catered to sequels. It still doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially with the inclusion of the film-within-a-film, Stab. Stab is a fictional film about the fictional Woodsboro murders, which means it’s a fictional film about Scream. The “footage” shown of the Stab film is footage shot with new actors, acting out scenes that appeared in the original Scream film. Scream 2 is a movie about a movie about a movie. These extra layers allow the film to make fun of itself on all kinds of levels and it’s ingenious. It truly did blow my mind when I watched it.
On the other side of the coin, the new layers of self-awareness don’t make up for the film’s weaknesses. The Dewey and Gale (played by David Arquette and Courtney Cox) storyline gets more attention in this movie and their scenes drag on and certainly don’t need that much time. It’s almost as if the film was trying to capitalize on Arquette and Cox’s real-life relationship, but I found myself incredibly bored during most of their scenes. The film is still a sleuth and nobody trusts anyone, but it seems less fun to play along the second time around. Randy assures everyone that in horror sequels, the kills must be bigger and better, and that is true in this movie. Unfortunately, the scare isn’t bigger and better.
Even the appearance of Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was amazing in I Know What You Did Last Summer just months prior to this film’s release, couldn’t save this movie for me. Ghostface is an interesting concept, but one that has an expiration date. He’s simply not scary enough to have any staying power. The excitement I had while watching the first film was gone the second time around. On to the next... Courtney Cox rocks the worst set of bangs I’ve ever seen in Scream 3.
If you liked Scream 2, you might also like Scream 3, Scream 4 and Halloween.