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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Neve Campbell
David Arquette
Courteney Cox
Liev Schreiber.
Directors
Wes Craven.
Screenwriters
Kevin Williamson
Kevin Williamson.
Running Time
120 minutes

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Scream 2
The self-referential nightmare continues.


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Plot
Scream Queen Campbell shakes the trauma of the first movie and goes to college, only to be followed by the masked slasher who now has a whole new social circle to terrorise.


Review
Early in Scream 2, a class of film students discuss sequels, and movie geek Randy (Jamie Kennedy) challenges his friends to name a sequel that improves on the original. Waving aside Godfather 2 and Aliens, a lonely voice pipes up for House 2: The Second Story. It's clear that we're back in postmodern slasher territory.

When guest star Jada Pinkett is murdered in a cinema during a sneak preview of Stab, a convincingly cheesy based-on-fact horror flick about the murders seen in the first film, Randy reasons a copycat killer is putting on his own sequel and lists the rules: bigger body count, more elaborate death scenes, etc. The film, of course, proceeds to follow those rules, right down to the important, but unmentioned, one of not being quite as good as the first film (even though it is ten minutes longer) - which one would like to think was done deliberately.

The set-up is that heroine Sidney (Campbell) has almost got over the ghastliness of the first film and gone to college, pursued by most of the surviving characters - hanger-on Kennedy, crippled ex-deputy Arquette, rapacious newslady Cox and one-time fall guy Schreiber - and there attracting a brand new circle of soon-to-be-victims, red herrings, bystanders and psychopaths.

It would be unfair to reveal too many twists, but the windy plot allows Wes Craven to demonstrate again just how good he is at punching your scare buttons, employing sharp editing and a superb sound mix to make even the hokiest sudden-appearance-out-of-the-dark a moment guaranteed to spill your popcorn. Given an original idea, like the need to clamber over the unconscious murderer to escape a crashed car, he comes up with real tension and pays off with a proper shock.

Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who has already added I Know What You Did Last Summer to his resume, has returned and shows again a feel for the way movie-literate students talk, getting laughs from gags at the expense of Top Gun and Paul Verhoeven ("What's your favourite scary movie?" the killer asks one victim, only to be told, "Showgirls").

But Scream 2 strains for a more all-encompassing theory of horror, paralleling a gimmicky screening of Stab, with an audience full of knife-wavers dressed as the Scream killer, with a performance of a Greek tragedy in which Campbell is similarly beset by masked figures.

There is a trainspottery charm to the ticking-off of all the obligatories: a sinister guest appearance from David Warner as a one-scene professor who works hard to make himself suspicious, Sarah Michelle Gellar's perky showing as the smart-mouthed blonde who gets on the killer's list by objecting to the whole idea of sequels, characters who are worried because their equivalents in the first film were gutted, the gathering of all the survivors on stage in the finale so their mutilations of each other take on the aspect of a student drama bloodbath.

In-joke fans will especially relish the extracts from Stab, in which - as she feared in the first film - Sidney is played by Tori Spelling. In Stab, key moments from Scream are done again with caricature cheap horror movie twitches that pile up on what were already essays in textbook genre-making.

Like most sequels, it's hamstrung because giving you what you liked last time doesn't account for the fact that what you liked last time was surprising then but isn't any more. Arquette and Cox are allowed to develop their characters a bit, though the warming romance doesn't undercut his slightly suspect geniality or her rampant careerism too much.

If it has a real problem it's that all the good stuff piled into the film means that the heroine rather fades into the background until the literally stagey climax, with traumatised good girl Campbell too often required to play straight woman to masked people with knives or unmasked people with better lines. Still, that's sequels for you, and this is loads better than House II: The Second Story, not to mention House III: The Horror Show and House IV: The Repossession.


Verdict
Clever parody of the sequel trend; once again we are treated to a movie mocking its own conventions. Some great comic - and terrifying - moments, but suffers for not being as original as the original.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Scream 2
Empire Star Rating

"It's a perfect example of life imitating art imitating life."

Not nearly as scary, humorous or original as the first film, Scream 2 does have its moments, but they are few and far between. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 05:57, 26 October 2013 | Report This Post


Scream 2

Why is Scream 2 so good? Simple, it excepts it won't be the original Scream and so tries to be something else, and boy are we in for a show. A fun packed sequel that is so right in making fun of itself with a funnier plot etc that it becomes a classic in its own right after the classic Scream. It just proves that Williamson and Craven are the reason the series work, not just Craven, Williamson is needed as well. But a classic, none the less, a fantastic film that just cannot be compared with... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Grimeanator at 20:32, 07 August 2012 | Report This Post


very good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackcarlin18 at 13:34, 19 May 2012 | Report This Post


not just better than 1, way better than 1

Cleverer, funnier, cooler, better cast, better script, better kills, better plot, better tension, scares and some terrific set-pieces. It's not just better than one, it's waay better than one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:35, 11 April 2011 | Report This Post


not just better than 1, way better than 1

Cleverer, funnier, cooler, better cast, better script, better kills, better plot, better tension and scares. It's not just better than one, it's waay better than one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:33, 11 April 2011 | Report This Post


Decent, But Slightly Worn

Not a bad sequel at all, but, in all honesty, I expected better. All the hallmarks and distinctive humour of the first are still here, they're just slightly underplayed this time. Still funny and unpredictable, but at a price of being overblown and unrealistic this time ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 03:17, 17 January 2011 | Report This Post


Stab!

While maybe not as scary as the original Scream 2 makes up for it by being funnier than the first. The opening alone deserves 5 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by S1lent B0b at 22:05, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


Bad!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 11:15, 04 October 2009 | Report This Post


Bad!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 11:15, 04 October 2009 | Report This Post


what the shit

this is worst tham first part. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shady_88 at 20:00, 20 April 2009 | Report This Post


i meant to give it a four star ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by casino at 16:56, 03 July 2007 | Report This Post


still good but not as good as the 1st one ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by casino at 21:19, 02 July 2006 | Report This Post


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