It’s no secret that I love horror comedies. Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Cabin in the woods, Army of Darkness are fantastic examples of a genre being able to simultaneously deliver on what is expected of it while offering up some serous lampooning at the cliché tropes that dredge some of it’s other offerings down. There are unspoken guidelines of the horror genre, and what is credited as one of the first real meta-horror films in the way that it critically looked at slasher movies by looking at itself was Scream. Scream is interesting because it not only was funny and well written, but it introduced us to a new icon of the horror genre, the easily recognizable “Ghost Face” has become a Halloween staple. Perhaps the best scene that describes the vibe of the movie is when a character, while watching a horror movie, yells at the woman on the screen to look behind her. Unbeknownst to him, the killer is sneaking up behind him, while his warnings to the woman on the screen go unheard. Scream was perhaps the first of its kind in the way it directly commented on it’s own actions. And then they made Scream 2.
Scream 2 picks up with Sidney Prescott is now in college, attempting to forget the horrific events that took place 2 years prior. Her attempt to leave the past behind her becomes increasingly difficult when a pair of students are killed in a screening of the movie “Stab” a fictional film depicting the events surrounding the first massacre… essentially, Stab is Scream 1. It soon becomes apparent that the ghost face killer is back to finish the job. The fun thing about this series is that it’s just as much a mystery as it is a horror flick. We’re introduced to a plethora of characters and we know, from experience, that the killer is mingled in somewhere. The movie progresses with blood and genuine scares and of course, some quality criticism of the very movie we’re watching.
Scream 2 really amps up the meta feel of the series. For example (and this could potentially be a spoiler, but you know it’s going to happen almost as soon as the movie starts) the opening scene is of an African American couple attending the screening of Stab. Their conversation is, as is most of the conversations in this film, about movies. Specifically the role of black characters in the horror genre. An often mocked trope is that the black person always dies first. The couple walk into the movie theater, where almost everyone in the theater, thanks to a promotion being run by the studio, almost everyone is has donned the costume that the killer wears in the movie. As the pair watches, we realize that what they’re watching is almost an exact replica of the opening scene in Scream just with a different actress. The scene ends the way anyone watching the movie knows it will, and as the woman screams the title flashes on the screen and we know exactly what to expect and it already feels like a better movie than the first one.
This movie has one huge advantage over it’s predecessor, and it’s an advantage that is normally a detriment to a series; it’s a sequel. The series takes the self awareness we enjoyed in the first movie and eases it into a more comfortable, natural setting. With the characters in college, a number of them indulge in classes such as Film Theory and Theater, the absolute perfect outlets to talk about what the audience is watching. This movie sounds like a thesis paper on the horror genre, and the effects it has on society. The wit is sharper, the jokes hardly fall flat and the killer has an even harder time getting their kill, but ultimately gets plenty as they get closer to their primary target; Sydney Prescott. Those that survived the original movie have pivotal rolls in this film as well and they all do a fantastic job adding to both the comedy and the creepiness of the film. Neve Campbell, as Prescott, attempts to perfect her signature look of half terror half sadness, something that she only improves on in later movies. David Arquette returns as Dewey the incredibly loyal but kind of dim cop. And Courtney Cox returns as reprises her role as Gale weathers.
With more material to work with and a richer back story and characters we’re already acquainted with, Scream 2 surpasses the original in both suspense and humor. Where Scream was a pretty good movie, Scream 2 I absolutely loved. It was the perfect setting for this series.