Scream 2, like its predecessor, is a genre-crossing film. It is about 50% horror film and 50% murder mystery. The mix worked very well last time and it continues to entertain this time.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare, 1995?, Wes Craven, which also explores the world of self-reference.
Scream was also known for its self-referential tone. Many inside jokes were made in reference to horror movies and Wes Craven. Again, Scream 2 follows suit with characters saying such things as “sequels suck” and “the entire horror genre was destroyed by sequels.”
Scream 2’s story is very similar to it’s predecessor’s. Sidney (Neve Campbell), having survived the killing spree in Scream, is now in college. Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) has written a book about the murders and that book is now being released as a feature film, called Stab (which for all practical purposes is the real-world movie Scream). At the premiere of Stab, two students from Sidney’s college are stabbed to death, and a new story begins.
The press descends on Sidney and her college to get the scoop on this sequel killer. They want to know all about the links between Stab, Sidney, and the recent murders.
The most complex self-reference I saw (this should be an Olympic event) was the scene where Gale Weathers was asking questions at a press conference. The rest of the press was watching and videotaping Weathers. The other survivors from Scream were watching and videotaping the press. The audience was watching the whole, filmed scene. (Whew.)
The movie is packed with layers and self-references that make it a pleasure to watch. Even better would be to watch a double feature of Scream and Scream 2. That’s not to say that these references necessarily make Scream 2 a deep, or even a good movie. The just add to the fun of watching it. I recommend it for other reasons as well.
What I liked best about the horror aspect of the movie is that the monster is not supernatural. No werewolf or ghost or psycho with superhuman strength is responsible. It is a person in a mask and a robe, his only advantage the fear he strikes into his victims. No extraordinary leap of faith is needed to believe in the killer. The down side is that if you are frightened by horror movies, you have less grounds to say “it’s just a movie.”
The whodunit aspect of the movie is not that great by itself — Gale Weathers and Deputy Dewey (David Arquette, also from the original) track down a killer. They are likeable, but not outstanding. But in combination with the horror aspect, the whodunit is a perfect counterpoint.
It was exactly a year ago today that I wrote the review for Scream. The Internet Movie Database says that Scream 3 is in the works, so I wonder if I’ll be doing the same thing on January 1, 1999. If Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson are able to keep the quality high, I’ll be happy to mark my calendar.