‘Sequels suck! Oh please, please! By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!’
Scream’s resident movie geek Randy Meeks may not have been a fan, but the 90s’ most meta horror franchise proved that not all follow-ups necessarily adhere to the law of diminishing returns.
Indeed, Scream 2 may have lacked the original’s element of surprise, but you could argue that it was just as smart, satirical and scary, if not more than, the original.
Twenty years to the day that it first hit cinemas in the States, here’s a look at why the second instalment of the slasher series remains one of the all-time great horror sequels.
The opening scene
How do you compete with an iconic opening scene that killed off the film’s biggest draw to a jaw-dropping response?
By shooting a deliberately exploitative recreation of it for a film-within-a-film, of course.
Perhaps the most well-known new addition to the franchise, Jada Pinkett Smith fulfilled the Drew Barrymore role this time around, meeting her violent fate at the hands of Ghostface before the opening credits.
The fact that she was knifed to death in front of a whooping cinema audience watching a dramatisation of the first film’s events showed immediately that the Scream series was about to get even more post-modern.
The star-making cast
Whereas most of Scream’s victims failed to sustain their stardom, Scream 2’s new additions went on to much greater things.
Sarah Michelle Gellar had already assumed the iconic role of Buffy Summers earlier that same year; Timothy Olyphant went on to take a leading role in acclaimed crime drama Justified, while Joshua Jackson, Portia de Rossi and Luke Wilson were just some of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos who eventually became big names.
Throw in the likes of Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), Jerry O’Connell (Stand by Me) and Heather Graham (Boogie Nights) and you have one of the most recognisable all-star horror casts of all time.
While we can give or take David Arquette’s hapless police officer Dewey, Scream’s other two ever-presents came back stronger than before.
Neve Campbell cemented her status as one of the ultimate final girls with another steely performance as the college student who can’t quite believe that a crazed killer is picking off her friends once again, while Courteney Cox stole several scenes as the ruthless reporter who initially revels at being at the centre of another murder scoop.
Scream 2 completely doubles down on all the meta-ness that made the original such a breath of fresh air.
Alongside several excerpts from Stab!, the movie based on the first Ghostface killing spree, it also features numerous references to the rules of sequels (‘Number one: the body count is always bigger…’) and references everything from Party Of Five – the show that launched Campbell to stardom – to David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston (Cox’s Friends cast mates).
OK, so nothing quite trumps Rose McGowan getting decapitated while stuck in a garage door cat flap, but Scream 2’s kills are still relatively memorable.
There’s the opening scene’s wince-inducing knife through the toilet cubicle, the irony of Randy being murdered in a broadcast van and the cold-blooded killing of Derek (O’Connell) while he’s attached to a crucifix.
The police escort scene
Scream 2 also ratchets up the suspense to unbearable levels during the scene in which Ghostface ambushes Sidney and friend Hallie’s (Elise Neal) police escort ride home.
The moment where Sidney and Hallie are forced to climb over the seemingly unconscious killer to flee from their crashed car is a masterclass in creating tension, and one which sadly doesn’t end well for the latter.
The guessing game
As with the original, Scream 2 thankfully didn’t make it too obvious as to who the two culprits behind the Ghostface masks were.
We didn’t quite buy the ‘becoming an infamous celebrity’ motive for Mickey’s (Olyphant) involvement.
But the revelation that the annoying intrepid reporter (Laurie Metcalf) was in fact the vengeful mother of Sidney’s murderous ex-boyfriend Billy Loomis was both a clever callback and interesting twist.
Scream 2’s big reveal is unarguably more dramatic than the original’s, if only for the fact it takes place amid the staging of a college theatre production.
Yes, the whole thing is ridiculous as a wounded Gail falls off the stage, Sidney and Mickey dance around fake Greek columns and Mrs Loomis gets buried underneath a mountain of artificial rocks, but it sure is entertaining too.
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