johnlink ranks SCREAM 2 (1997)

Way back in January I had heard that Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven were teaming up for a new SCREAM film. I wanted to revisit the original trilogy, and for no good reason, stopped after the first one. I’ve always remembered the first as a classic, the second as pretty good, and the third as mediocre at best. When I reviewed the first one, I was happy to realize it held up as a commentary on the horror/slasher genre of its time. So now, nine or ten months later, here is number two. SPOILERS BELOW

I watched SCREAM 2 (1997) on 10.14.09. It was my fourth viewing of the film, and the first in probably six or seven years.



This film gets a little too marred in self-referentialism. I have no issue with showing Nosferatu on the TV in the background, or the fact that this movie attempts to skewer sequels while being one. Those are the things I expect. And, really, I don’t have a huge issue with Courtney Cox throwing in a joke about Jennifer Aniston, or Sarah Michelle Gellar throwing out an under-the-radar reference to Neve Campbell’s show PARTY OF FIVE. None of these things bother me in and of themselves, but the totality of them becomes somewhat overwhelming.  We end up playing this game of “did you catch that reference” rather than getting to the meat of the story. Again, I usually like this stuff. But SCREAM 2 pushes the limit of how much you can fit in one movie.

As for the film itself, I have some issues with the writing (and this coming from one of the all-time Kevin Williamson fans). So I will hold some of my criticism for that. I think there are still plenty of jumps and moments of suspense which sustain this film. The one that stands out for me is Sydney and her roommate climbing out of the cop car with the killer unconscious in the front. That scene holds up to the standard set by the first featyure. But overall, this film did not do for sequels what the first did for the genre at large. SCORE: 4


Again, the suspense and jumps are there. I love watching Neve Campbell, and watching this movie now gives you a series of ‘Oh Shit, (s)he’s in this?!’ moments. That in itself is fun. Again, while not to the level of the first film, this is still a fun, quirky, watchable slasher flick. SCORE: 7


So we have leads of Courtney Cox (one of her best roles), David Arquette (one of his best roles), Neve Campbell (had a huge crush on her in the 90s), Liev Schriber (not one of his best, but good enough), Timothy Olyphant (average in this), Laurie Metcalf (weak villain), Jerry O’Connell (definitely not one of his memorable roles), and Jamie Kennedy (his defining role, though he gets killed off way too early). Then we have supporting roles from Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rebecca Gayheart, Portia di Rossi (unnecessary ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT shoutout, woohoo!) Jada Pinkett pre-Smith, and Omar Epps. Then, there are blink-or-you-miss scenes with Joshua Jackson, Tori Spelling, Heather Graham, both Williamson and Craven, David Warner (Master Control from TRON!), and Luke freakin’ Wilson. I mean, the list of recognizable names in this film is like an Altman movie. But for all of that, there is a lot of average. I like the characters established in the first film again here, but the sequel does not give us one memorable character. The closest would be Liev Schriber, but he, technically, is in the first one. A+ for casting, C for acting from supporting characters, gives us an average score. SCORE: 5


The dialogue is sharp as ever. Williamson’s greatest gift is his dialogue. But he has two major flaws (I’m not even going to blame him for the referential stuff, because I really believe a lot of that was on-set ad libbing). The first is the choice of villains. I know he was going for a reverse-FRIDAY THE 13TH thing with the killer being Billy’s mother. But it just does not work. When I first saw the movie I remember thinking “Really? That’s it? Was she even in this?” and then, watching it now, I see how often they tried to squeeze her in. Timothy Olyphant makes a great villain… in some other stuff. His character just seems unfocused and easy. My other major problem was how quickly Jamie Kennedy was killed. I know it is the ‘Oh shit’ moment, and it works for that. But I would much rather that have come in the third act. He really stands in for the audience in this film (as he did the first film), and we kill him too quickly. A bold statement had to be made, I agree. But I wish the statement had been made with the killer. I feel the easy way out was taken. SCORE: 4



4+7+5+4+0= 20


~ by johnlink00 on October 15, 2009.

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