Scream 2 (1997)

For me the ironic thing with Scream 2 is that early on it has a redo of the list of rules that Randy (Jamie Kennedy) went through for horror films in Scream, only this time having to do with sequels.  Randy's theory is that the sequels are always inferior.  I know that I am not in the minority when considering Scream 2 a major improvement over the original. 

Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as moved on from Woodsboro and is now attending Windsor College.  She has a boyfriend named Derek (Jerry O'Connell) and a new best friend in dorm mate Hallie (Elise Neal).  Her circle is rounded out by Randy, who survived being stabbed in the first, and Mickey (Timothy Olyphant), a film student.  Unfortunately, Sidney's life is soon once again thrown into upheaval by the deaths of a local couple (Omar Epps, Jada Pinkett Smith) at a sneak preview of the movie Stab, based on the book that Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) wrote about the events in the first film. 

The deaths bring Weathers to town and, to make things worse, she attempts to force an interview between Sidney and Cotton Wary (Liev Schreiber), the man who had been wrongly accused of killing Sidney's mother.  Concerned for her safety, Dewey (David Arquette), crippled from his encounter with the two killers in the original, also shows up.  While local authorities are at first reluctant to admit it, after the death of a sorority girl (Sarah Michelle Geller) and an attack on Sidney herself, it becomes apparent that a copycat killer - or killers - is targeting her and her friends. 

Although there are still some stinkers in the writing I feel that Kevin Williamson did a better script for this, and apparently Wes Craven also had a bit more control in the story as well.  Scream 2 also benefits from not having Matthew Lillard, who I thought was a distracting irritation throughout most of the original, particularly since his character Stu and Sidney's boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) turned out to be the killers.  That meant we had to put up with Lillard's overacting during the reveal of their dastardly plan and the motive, which revolved around Sidney's mom breaking up Billy's family. 

Strangely, the only person who really overacts - at least until the end - is Timothy Olyphant, and he's usually a lot more reliable.  I'm not used to seeing him as young as he was in this, and it's obvious that over the years he's both improved in skill and, especially in the canceled-too-soon Santa Clarita Diet, comic timing.  Which brings up the point that the actual comedy in this is better than the first as well.  Much of it still is referential and depends on the audience's familiarity with horror sequels, but there are some truly good lines and scenes that build from the characters rather than just trying to be clever.  

As far as opening scenes go, since Scream did set the bar high with Drew Barrymore's death in the first one, this one is pretty much equal and, appropriately enough, takes place in a movie theater.  The little we see of Stab pokes fun at the first film, with Luke Wilson hilariously imitating Skeet Ulrich in one scene and, as Sidney predicted, Tori Spelling playing her in the movie.  

I never understood the major appeal of Scream when it came out, considering it an average slasher dressed up with some self-aware comedy.  Scream 2 on the other hand is a solid, if somewhat overlong, bit of entertainment.  The actual ending still leaves a something to be desired, with some more convoluted motives and scenery chewing from the killers, but leading up to it we have some truly tense scenes with Sidney and Hallie trapped in a police car and Dewey and Gale in a sound studio, all of it which works better than any of the kills (save the first) in Scream.

Scream 2 (1997)
Time: 120 minutes
Starring: Neve Campbell, Elise Neal, Jerry O'Connell, Timothy Olyphant, Courtney Cox, David Arquette
Director: Wes Craven



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