“Scream 2” had multiple name changes during development before settling on the final title, including “Scary Sequel” and “The Sequel to Scream”. (Photo courtesy of Dimension Films)
“Scream 2” is an anomaly of a film. It is not only a sequel in a horror franchise that manages to be good, it also manages to be better than its predecessor.
Opening at a movie theater premiering the fictional film “Stab,” based on the events from the first “Scream” movie, two college students are brutally murdered. The two victims were students at the same college that Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), protagonist and one of the few survivors of the first movie, attends. Sidney and her friends soon find themselves in another slasher movie scenario from which they might not get out alive.
The most iconic characteristic about the “Scream” franchise is its self-awareness towards the horror genre. While “Scream 2” does handle the self-awareness of horror movie clichés and characteristics, it simultaneously handles the self-awareness of sequels in general. The best example of this is the inclusion of the movie “Stab.” A common criticism about sequels is that they are repeats of the original. Knowing that, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williams have several scenes where characters are watching segments of “Stab” that is showcasing events from the first movie, thus literally and repeating scenes.
“Scream 2” manages to avoid a majority of the problems that arise with sequels, most noticeably and importantly the repetition that a lot of sequels have. Other than another a string of murders happening, the repetition of this movie is more so a continuation from the first movie than repeating stuff. In the first movie, police deputy Dewey (David Arquette) and cutthroat reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) had elements of a relationship between them. “Scream 2” restarts their relationship in an organic way and builds on what has already been shown. Among the other sequel problems it manages to avoid is having all of the characters who are returning from the first film feel like they belong in the movie and are not awkwardly forced in. The only returning character who could have been cut out was Randy (Jamie Kennedy) without changing the movie, but his reason for being there is logical so that it doesn’t hurt the movie.
Craven also seems to use “Scream 2” to give his opinion on the argument about how violence in the media affects its viewers; his position being that the argument is complete bullocks. This view is made blatant with the killer’s plan to blame cinema violence for their psychotic behavior, though there are some subtle elements that play to the idea of the ridiculousness that media violence is responsible for real violence. In the opening scene with the screening of “Stab,” the argument is satirized by all of the cinema goers dressed as the ghost face killer, running around and pretending to stab each other when a movie based on real murders is playing.
With only an occasional falter here or there with its self-awareness and avoidance of sequel clichés, “Scream 2” is not only a well-thought out horror movie, but a well thought-out continuation to a story with some subtle brilliance to it.