HOLLYWOOD—Last week, we looked at a sequel that was highly heralded by many cinema buffs as being one of the best ever made. This week we take a look at a sequel, whose predecessor totally reinvigorated the horror genre in the late 90s when many thought the genre was all, but dead. Any guesses? I’m referring to the 1996 classic “Scream.” We could talk for days about the nuances and intelligence of Kevin Williamson’s witty script, but our focus is on the 1997 sequel, “Scream 2.”
So what is it about “Scream 2” that totally ranks in my opinion as a sequel that has an edge over its predecessor? It’s structure holds true to those rules that movie buff Randy Meeks echoed in the movie itself. It’s bigger, it’s bolder and it delivers a ton of surprises that I just absolutely love.
First, we are reunited with our survivors: Sidney Prescott, Randy, Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley. With most sequels the characters don’t really change much, and the same can be argued here, but one could also make a valid argument that those characteristics that made us love or hate these characters have been amplified.
Sidney is a bit bolder, not afraid to keep walls around herself out of fear of seeing a rehash of what happened in Woodsboro. Even more telling is she has become one hell of a fighter people. Gale Weathers is an absolute treat! I love, love Courtney Cox as this character. Gale was ambitious the first time around, but for the sequel she goes into overdrive. Her sass, her wit and just bluntness is not to be overlooked. Dewey is still Dewey, but his likability has skyrocketed this time around in my opinion. And when it comes to Randy how can you not love this character, who is cluing the audience in on everything we already know or at least we think we know.
“Scream 2,” like its predecessor opens up with a shocking murder, but it’s so potent because the script tackles the element of African-Americans being exclusionary characters in the horror genre. The meta-analysis is so forward it’s hard not to acknowledge it. That opening later transitions to a re-introduction to our survivors as well as some new faces, as a copycat killer causes mayhem on a college campus where Randy and Sidney are attending school.
The deaths this time around are indeed a lot bloodier than the first time around, but we have the introduction of the idea that any character can meet his or her demise at any given time. I mean I can’t recall a person who wasn’t heartbroken in the theater when Randy unexpectedly became a victim of the killer, nor could I forget the gasps from the audience when it looked like Dewey was a goner as well. That’s what works for “Scream 2” so well; there was a level of uncertainty. If you’re watching the flick for the first time, it becomes apparent, no character is immune from the chaos (minus Sidney herself) and the level of suspects is so gargantuan, it makes the fun of figuring out whodunit that much more fun.
I mean Mickey was a given, but Mrs. Loomis, not only was that classic, but no one expected it. Why? Because Sidney never came across the character, so when the reveal arrived it was a stunner. If she had seen the woman on campus all would have come crashing down sooner than later. What totally sells me on the movie is that classic, suspense driven escape from the car scene. When it comes to suspense, that moment had it all. Two characters trapped in the presence of a killer, with no evident escape route. That moment when Sidney accidentally struck the car horn, left everyone, and I mean everyone in the theater on pins and needles. Was the killer about to wake, would Halle escape as well, there was so much tension in that single scene words can’t describe it people.
“Scream 2” finds a way to make horror not just scary, but fun at the same time, breaking a ton of rules along the way and keeping the audience guessing what will transpire until the final moments. It’s proof that a sequel can indeed be better than the original.