I now quote directly from my "Scream" review: "[Scream] doesn't give us any 'Oh, Look I'm a Smart Movie and I Create Suspense and I Build Up Character' crap." Well, "Scream 2" gives us some of that crap, but it's endurable. As a sequel it lacks originality, but it still makes for one satisfying "scream." (Case in point, the screams heard throughout the theatre during the viewing.)
As a "scare" movie it lived up to its potential; but perhaps because we've seen it done before in "Scream," the result wasn't as satisfying. I'm not saying that there wasn't much nail chewing, person-next-to-you-grabbing tension. But you can only remain in awe of a frolicking white mask for so long, you can only be frightened by the suddenly-appearing murderer the first time around. Veterans of "Scream," while viewing "Scream 2," may recognize a pattern and a certain way the director (was it the same person?) handles the "fright scenes." It was like that for me. In building up to the fright scenes, "Scream 2" takes a lot longer. Several times I was tempted to scream (no pun intended), "CUT THE ROMANTIC CRAP AND SCARE ME, DAMNIT!!!"
That point may be debated when one brings up the fact that the movie itself may be perpetuating its ongoing theme of "life imitating art imitating life" and the movie students' interpretation of sequels. Perhaps, if the creators are this clever, they meant for the sequel to seem almost identical to the original in horror tactics, character buildup, humor, and storytelling. From the "oh no something is happening" stage, onto the "everyone is a suspect" stage, then the "killerS (yes, killerS) face-off with heroine" finale, the two movies are nearly the same. Perhaps it is self-mocking where it offhandedly comments on the effects the movie "Stab" has on the hysterical crowd. (According to a friend who saw the movie on its premiere night, there were several masked audiences running around as well.) Throughout the movie, as in its predecessor, the blurring of the line between reality, fiction, and individual identity is handled nicely.
Now on to examining the good and bad. Once again, the movie retains, perhaps by forsaking originality, much of "Scream's" gracefully staged stabfests, offbeat humor, and surprising plot twists (which may not seem like twists to old-timers.) The movie makes use of most of the original cast (that did not die in the first one!) including the adorable Randy (cry) and Duey (yay - David Arquette); our favorite heroines Gale and Sydney return with a vengeance. People, this is a crowd of rising stars. Memorable also is the casting of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tori Spelling, Jada Pinkett, Omar Epps, Jerry O'Connell and the sorority bimbos. Most of these actors and actresses give satisfying perforamances - but I have quite a few qualms with the overacted role of Billy the Psycho's Psycho!Mom. (Again - bad melodramatic performance or purposeful satire on other movies? Hmmmm.) The references to David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, and "Party of Five" also got a few cheap (but well-earned) laughs (Anyone notice any "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" references? If there were any, they went over my head). On a note of believability, there are many more logic leaps and illogical developments in the sequel. Are we supposed to believe the killer can still run around with agility after he's involved in a head-on car accident?
One thing I must say about the movie is that it handles some of its suspense and killing scenes excellently. First, its use of a sense of doom and desperation. Recall the first scene in the original "Scream," where Stacey (Drew Barrymore) cries out deperately to her unsuspecting parents as they enter their home, unaware that their daughter is about to be slaughtered. Now look at this movie's first scene, where amidst the sneak preview crowd's hysteria, a woman is murdered in public, where when she finally stumbles on the stage for everyone to see, she can only scream in silence. Likewise, the heartbreaking scene where Gale is forced to watch (in silence, again) as Duey is stabbed. (Yes, Duey & Gale are a cute couple! A beautiful relationship too, well handled.) Second, the director's knack for creating great suspense. Sometimes it may be obvious when the masked dude is going to jump out, but it still gets me every time. I may love seeing the original "on the phone" scares, but on stages scares work for me as well, especially the Cassandra play scene, where once unmasked, everyone looks innocent.
Another thing I must point out, thanks to much contribution from a friend, is that the movie in many ways parellels "Psycho," the classic Alfred Hitchcock film. First there is the obvious stabbing motion of the knife. At one point there are even sharp violin notes being played, strongly mirroring the classic violin scare theme in "Psycho." Then, as pointed out by my friend, there is the mother/son relationship.
The movie in many ways mimics its predecessor, which isn't entirely a bad thing. I laud "Scream" for its creativity and daringness and I admire "Scream 2" for treading well (and perhaps timidly) in "Scream's" footsteps. There is nothing like screaming at a would-be-victim to get out of the obvious trap in a movie which itselfs mocks movie villians' ploys and victims' gullibilities. And then, there is nothing better than a scary movie that makes you feel very frightened when you're alone in your room at midnight typing movie reviews.
Rating: B (First viewing, 12/18/97)
*Gotta feel sorry for Omar Epps, who once again plays a doomed character. He played Dennis the suicidal intern in "e.r."
*I wonder why they're using music from another movie ("Broken Arrow") as the Duey/Gale love theme.
*I was kind of disappointed that Sarah "Buffy" Michelle Gellar only appeared for a little while.
*Gotta love the 90's: "Star 69 his ass!"