Scream 2, the follow up to 1996’s groundbreaking film, Scream, is naturally not going to make as big of an impact as the first, but it still wants to be just as fun. While the first film satirizes the characters in horror films, this one wryly makes fun of the audience who watches them. Or perhaps our society who’s had the line blurred between what we see on screen and what happens in real life. It’s thoughtful, even if that concept never gets fully realized in the end.
Cleverly beginning in a crowded movie theater on the opening night of the film version of the events that took place in the first film, Jada Pinkett’s character is acquiescently attending the showing with her boyfriend. While the theater is filled with audience members wearing Ghostface prop masks and raucously yelling at the grisly murders on screen, the real Ghostface killer is there as well. He quietly kills Jada’s boyfriend in the bathroom and then murders Jada inside the theater, in plain sight amongst the hundreds of others looking the same as him.
Then we cut to Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the protagonist from Scream, in her college dorm hearing of the horrific news. She thought these murders were all in her past. After all, she uncovered the identity and killed the original Ghostface Killer last time. But apparently a killer of some sort still stalks her life. Is it the same person from the first movie? Or is this new tormentor a copycat killer?
Throughout the film there’s a theme of life imitating the movies. How perhaps this new killer is just copying what he or she saw in the news or on screen. The new themes here are a little more serious and a little more focused, which actually makes this sequel feel like less of a rehash of its predecessor.
In the first Scream, the beauty is in its simplicity. Here, we get an abundance of random subplots meant to distract us. Luckily the film is rooted in a creative premise, changing the formula a bit and making us forget that it’s still just following protocol.
Scream 2 takes out insurance early on by making jokes about how sequels aren’t as good. Calling itself out preemptively to save its own behind. But that’s just about all of the self-parody we get. If this one is slightly less fun, it’s because it’s more serious. Obviously the same jokes can’t be repeated, so the film chooses the more practical route of continuing the story with characters we’re already invested in. I’ll take it.
Unfortunately, this sequel is also less scary. Director Wes Craven doesn’t necessarily give us anything terribly new here. It seems like much of the creativity was put into the premise itself, rather than in choreographing chase scenes or building suspense. Or maybe the first film was just too good.
Scream 2 is still undoubtedly entertaining and a lot of fun, even if it’s just a small step down from the previous movie. Which is still high praise if you ask me.