“Scream 2” is a good and worthy sequel that nevertheless doesn’t quite reach the same heights as the first one. One of its main problems is that the second time round, the meta-approach isn’t that original and exciting anymore. Yes, this time, they’re discussion the typical sequel rules (and are totally ignoring “The Empire Strikes Back” in their “sequels better than the original”-discussion – dafuq?), but overall, those scenes had a “been there, done that”-feel to them. I also felt that the movie dragged a little bit during the middle. As great as the guessing game concerning the identity of the killer is, but they went a little overboard with the characters themselves sharing their theories. Also, there are a couple of times where Ghostface is extremely lucky (like in one scene where the person he’s talking with on the phone ends up standing directly in front of the place where he’s hiding). The reveal of the killer also, again, wasn’t the most convincing part of the movie (and is also hurt by the fact that they simply copy a certain twist of the first one). And as clever as the protagonists usually act in the “Scream”-movies (at least compared to the low standards of horror/slasher-movies in general), there were a couple of instances (like them not picking up the gun from on the windshield) that had me scream not in terror, but in frustration.
One of the things that I loved about it, and a strength that it shares with its predecessor, is the great beginning – this time at the premiere of the movie “Stab”, which is based on the Woodboro-killings. The whole sequence is absolutely great, with many moviegoers dressed up as Ghostface, a critical contemplation of ethnicity in horror/slasher-movies as well as society’s fascination – and exploitation – of real-world tragedies, funny ideas like the “stab-o-vision”, the restaging of shots from the first one (even though a more critical mind might ask how on earth they could know all that, especially when it comes to the beginning of “Stab” with Heather Graham as Drew Barrymore), the great scene in the toilet, as well as the gruesome death in the theatre itself. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start this movie. This is not its only great moment, though. I also liked the later scenes during rehearsal in the college theatre, the clever scene with the soundproof cabin, and especially the moment where Sydney and her friend have to climb over a seemingly unconscious Ghostface to get out of the car. That scene is just incredibly tense, and (Sydneys previously mentioned refusal to grab the gun notwithstanding) my personal highlight of the movie (which unfortunately also means that nothing that came afterwards reached quite the same level of suspense again).
“Scream 2” further benefits from a strength that I shamefully forgot to mention in my review of its predecessor: Instead of a seemingly supernatural, invulnerable and unstoppable killer, Ghostface is a man of flesh and blood. He stumbles, he can be hit, and hurt, etc. For some, the unstoppable foe might be scarier, but I feel that a killer that might actually exist in real life (and might stand right behind you RIGHT NOW), is more threatening. Also, in comparison to many other slasher-killers he’s not above running to catch his prey. Another strength of this series is casting. Again, like in the first one, they found a great balance of already well-known and established faces (Sarah Michelle Gellar!) as well as fresh talents that had quite a successful career later on. They also get extra points for actually casting Tori Spelling as Sydney in “Stab”, just as she feared. Think of her what you will as an actress, but she’s definitely a good sport for doing this after being the butt of that joke in “Scream”. Plus, sometimes there’s also a little meta-humor to be found simply in the fact that certain lines are spoken by certain actors (like Gale Weathers claiming that her alleged nude pictures were her face put on Jennifer Aniston’s body – who, of course, was Courteney Cox’ costar on “Friends”). Speaking of which: I very much liked the humor in this (again), since it made the movie quite funny at times, but never at the expense of its suspense.
One aspect where I actually prefer “Scream 2” to its predecessor, is the score. There were a couple of haunting passages featuring a female voice, and overall, I found the music much more eerie. And I really liked the catchy new theme for the Dewey/Gale-romance. The acting is also really good again, and definitely above average than what you’re used to in that genre. Like “Scream”, I once again was especially impressed with Neve Campbell. David Arquette also got a little bit more to do here, and I also enjoyed Courteney Cox, who got to play a slightly refined Gale. It’s not just the recurring cast members, however, the new blood also gives some very good performances. And even though he was only there for one scene, but… kudos for getting David Warner in there! They also do a very good job again to make you guess who the killer might be, and play an especially nice “is he, or isn’t he?” game with Sydneys new boyfriend, played by Jerry O’Connell. Finally, as much as I didn’t like that they used the “killer comes back one last time”-trope yet again, I loved the scene where Sydney, immediately afterwards, put a bullet in his/her brain, just to be safe. It’s what I always wanted to see the characters do in situations like that: Just go ahead and make sure that the fucker’s dead. It’s something that even many recent movies still neglect to do (hello, “The Guest”!), so that was definitely a plus for me. Overall, “Scream 2” is an enjoyable, worthy sequel – but it’s just not as fresh and inventive as the original.