Scream 2 feels very familiar, in large part because it’s the same type of film as Scream, only with a somewhat different cast, and a new target for its satire. This time around, instead of focusing on slasher films in general, it’s interested in making fun of slasher sequels, which are so different. There are a new set of rules — presumably, the old ones still apply — a new group of characters, and a very similar plot; slasher films all have a similar plot anyway, right?
Now in college, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is finally finding her life returning to normal. She has a new roommate, Hallie (Elise Neal), her new friends (Jerry O’Connell and Timothy Olyphant) are supportive, and fellow survivor, Randy (Jamie Kennedy), is doing just fine as well. She’s even getting a movie made about her experiences with Ghostface, the serial killer from the first movie, titled Stab. Unfortunately, at a sneak peek for the film, a double-murder takes place, and we find out that Ghostface is back and ready to kill our cast of characters … again.
Also returning are the two older characters, news reporter Gale Weathers (Courney Cox) and former Deputy, Dewey Riley (David Arquette). In the last film, they helped to investigate the murders and try to discover who the killer is. Gale had to turn from narcissist to people-person, and made the transition fairly well, even if it wasn’t made all the way. Between films, she’s written a bestselling book about the murders, and has gotten an even bigger head that will have to be cooled down before she can be of use.
There’s another older character introduced this time around. He was mentioned in the last film as the man who Sidney believed murdered her mother, but never made an actual appearance. Yes, Cotton Weary (Liev Schrieber) turns up this time around, in large part just to be a suspect. Perhaps he wants revenge on Sidney for the year of life she deprived him of. Pretty much everyone is a suspect, and they all accuse each other at every turn. This is even more of a whodunit than Scream was.
It’s also just as scary and just as funny, although it is, once again, too long and doesn’t have the same amount of freshness that made Scream so captivating. It’s less of a success because of these two factors, even though it is quite enjoyable. Eventually, it just wore me down. There’s too much of it, it feels very bloated, and I was hoping that someone would solve something so that the movie could just end. That’s not what happens, and it ends up playing for two hours as a result.
Ghostface continues to be a serial killer not worth watching. He only uses his signature knife, he’s not particularly agile, and there’s nothing about him that’s terribly unique. He shows flashes of being interesting, like when he calls his victims before killing them, but for most of the time, he pops up and chases them and then slices them, or just skips the chase. Those are the best ones, as they’re accompanied by loud music and make us jump. And then the excessive blood comes out, and we’re thinking “yeah, this is fun.” Isn’t that sick?
But I guess that’s why we typically watch slasher films, and since that’s what Scream 2 is, I guess it’s a good one. Like Scream before it, this is a film that doesn’t let its satire get in the way of the fun or the parts of the genre that are worth watching. We know lots of these characters are going to die, and we know their deaths are going to be highlights of the film — that’s just what has to happen. But when a film can tell you that and then still go above and beyond your expectations.
I once again wasn’t happy with the reveal of who was behind the Ghostface costume, although it was much more predictable this time around. It tries to be unique, and even goes so far as to shout “Surprising, huh?” when the reveal happens, but it wasn’t terribly hard to figure out if you know what to look for. It felt contrived and obvious and didn’t really fit. There was an actual motive to the killer which comes out of nowhere, and I was hoping by the end of it that there was going to be more to it.
Do you want to know what I would have liked to see? I’d like to see Wes Craven make a feature length version of Stab, which appeared to be a parody of the first Scream. Do you know how much fun that could be? Scream, a parody of the slasher genre, being parodied by the man who created it — that would just be so enjoyable. From the short scenes we got to see, it looked like Craven would enjoy that kind of project. I know that I would certainly welcome it.
Scream 2 is pretty much exactly what you’d expect as a follow up to Scream. It’s still funny, it’s still fairly thrilling and suspenseful, and it’s still highly critical of the slasher genre, with sequels being the main target. It doesn’t feel as original as Scream did, and it’s not quite as enjoyable as a result, but it’s still good fun. It’s way too long, though, and definitely needed some tighter editing and possibly a more interesting villain. Then again, maybe the lackluster killer is part of the point. Who knows?