Scream 2 (1997) poster

Scream 2 (1997)

Rating:

USA. 1997.

Crew

Director – Wes Craven, Screenplay – Kevin Williamson, Producers – Cathy Konrad & Marianne Maddalena, Photography – Peter Deming, Music – Marco Beltrami, Cassandra Aria – Danny Elfman, Music Supervisor – Ed Gerrard, Special Effects Supervisor – Ron Trost, Makeup Effects – KNB EFX Group (Supervisors – Howard Berger & Greg Nicotero), Production Design – Bob Ziembicki. Production Company – Konrad Pictures/Craven-Maddalena Films/Dimension Pictures.

Cast

Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), David Arquette (Dewey Riley), Courteney Cox (Gail Weathers), Jamie Kennedy (Randy Meeks), Jerry O’Connell (Derek), Liev Schreiber (Cotton Weary), Laurie Metcalf (Debbie Salt), Elise Neal (Hallie), Timothy Olyphant (Mickey), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Casey ‘Cici’ Cooper), Jada Pinkett (Maureen Evans), Duane Martin (Joel), Omar Epps (Phil Stevens), Lewis Arquette (Chief Louis Hartley), Rebecca Gayheart (Lois), Portia De Rossi (Murphy)


Plot

Sidney Prescott is now at university. With the release of ‘Stab!’, a film based on Gail Weathers’ book about the Woodsboro Massacre, someone begins a series of copycat killings.


Scream (1996) was a wittily postmodern recasting of slasher films of the early 1980s such as Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) and their endless horde of imitators. On one level, Scream was filled with all the shocks and thrills expected of it. Yet there was another level to it that was at the same time consciously crafting a film that was slyly mocking and parodying its own genre and cliches. Characters stopped in the middle of the flight from the slasher to hold discussions about what characters in slasher films did in the situation and which character was supposed to survive according to the slasher movie formula. And following Scream‘s success, what more natural to follow it up with than a Scream 2, which gleefully launches into satirizing the pandemic of sequels that followed most slasher films in the mid-1980s.

Scream 2 has a fabulous opening that perfectly encapsulates the joyful sense of meta-fictional play that screenwriter Kevin Williamson delights in – while watching a film based on the events of the first film (wherein the opening of the first film is replayed but amusingly satirized – one scene rather funnily digs at directors that like to quote the Psycho (1960) shower sequence), a copycat killing takes place in the theatre, only for the victim’s death throes to be taken as part of the promotional gimmick for the film. Here the constant blurring of the lines between what is happening and “the artificial” is dazzling. This naturally segues into a typically Williamson-esque debate on whether someone is trying to ‘create’ a sequel to the events of the first film, whether some sequels are better than their originals – you know it is a genre fan writing when someone argues the merits of House II: The Second Story (1987) over House (1986) – and whether the media influences violence.

Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox in Scream 2 (1997)
(l to r) Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox face more killings

Unfortunately for Scream 2, the film that ends up on screen fails to meet the criteria it itself establishes for worthwhile sequels. Kevin Williamson’s script is far too burdened down and overweighed by the necessity of trying to turn the survivors from the first film and most of the cast members into potential suspects and the jokey genre interplay that essentially made the first film gets lost as a result.

There is the odd moment – the script even parodies its own catchphrase from the first film: “What’s your favourite scary movie?” the stalker asks Jamie Kennedy. “Showgirls [1995] – now that was a truly scary movie.” The ending wherein the slasher explains their motivation – that they want to be caught so they can demonstrate the case for movies influencing violence in real life – is positively ingenious. However, such an ending is ruined by Kevin Williamson placing so many successive twist revelations on top of that that the moment topples over into the farcically absurd.

Wes Craven and most of the cast returned for Scream 3 (2000) and Scre4m/Scream 4 (2011). The premise was later reworked as the tv series Scream: The Series (2015– ).

Wes Craven’s other genre films are:– the brutality and revenge films The Last House on the Left (1972) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977); the suburban witch film Summer of Fear/Stranger in the House (1978); Deadly Blessing (1981) about murders around a religious cult; the comic-book adaptation Swamp Thing (1982); Invitation to Hell (tv movie, 1984); A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984); Chiller (tv movie, 1985); The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1985); Deadly Friend (1986) about a teen inventor who revives his girlfriend from the dead; The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), a strikingly beautiful film about Haitian voodoo; Shocker (1989) a campily incoherent film about an undead executed killer; Night Visions (tv movie, 1990); The People Under the Stairs (1991); Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994); the Eddie Murphy vampire comedy Vampire in Brooklyn (1995); the werewolf film Cursed (2005); and the dispossessed soul slasher film My Soul to Take (2010). Wes Craven has also written the scripts for A Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors (1987), Pulse (2006) and The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), and produced Mind Ripper (1995), Wishmaster (1997), Carnival of Souls (1998), Don’t Look Down (1998), Dracula 2000 (2000), Feast (2006), The Breed (2006), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), The Last House on the Left (2009), The Girl in the Photographs (2015) and the tv series Scream: The Series (2015– ). He also created the tv series The People Next Door (1989) and Nightmare Cafe (1992).



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