So you have an out-of-the-ordinary horror film which operates with an explicit recognition of the "Rules" of horror films, and in which the monster/ killer has proven to be very much human and is destroyed in the first film. How does one make a sequel for such a film? "Scream 2" is a surprising success as a film and a sequel, instead of simply trying to play around the rules from the first film, "Scream 2" builds a separate story while acknowledging the "Rules" of "Sequels." Again, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have teamed up to create an entertaining, suspenseful horror film that rises to a cerebral level unparalleled by all the films in the genre except its predecessor.
While the film contains an exchange between Dewey (David Arquette) and Randy (Jamie Kennedy) the film's slasher-fan movie geek about the rules of sequels, an even more impressive exchange is a classroom discussion of sequels and whether they are inherently inferior or if there are sequels which can actually outdo their predecessors. The discussion is an accurate and realistic one that real people, especially film students would have, mentioning such great sequels as "Aliens," "Terminator 2," and the Oscar-winning "The Godfather, Part II." What is not said, but is implicit, is that the filmmakers were not satisfied putting out a "diluted product" in Scream 2, but rather endeavored to make a sequel which measures up favorably with the original film.
Another great plot device in the film is the movie within the movie- "Stab". Based on the events of the first film and starring (gasp!) Tori Spelling, the film is basically a typical horror flick without ambition or originality. It also brings up the interesting issue of what relationship films, particularly violent films, have with the violence perpetrated by its viewers. Neither "Scream" nor "Scream 2" gets overly preachy on the subject, however, and Craven seems to ultimately reject any direct link.
"Scream 2" updates the story of Sydney Prescott, now in college and trying to get past her traumatic experiences, who once again hears a familiar voice on the telephone and soon finds her friends and acquaintances turning into victims of a familiar ghost-mask wearing killer. Once again, there are many "red herrings" throughout the film, as the audience must once again figure out who the mysterious killer might be, and Craven does cause the viewer to keep guessing througout the film. As in "Scream," the film is driven by an all-star cast, including the return of most of the principals from "Scream," as well as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O'Connell and Omar Epps.
Although Craven did a great job building suspense in the first film, he does manage to improve upon his efforts in the second film. While some of the killings are shockingly abrupt, the suspense in the film is quite impressive. Especially suspenseful is a scene involving a sound proof room, where people can be seen but not heard from room to room.
While "Scream" will be revered for years as a modern horror classic, "Scream 2" is a worthy successor. While likely not destined to be a classic on its own, it is clear that Williamson and Craven did not rest on their laurels and truly put an impressive effort into this film, which pays off well, and helps to establish the whole trilogy as a landmark in the horror film genre.
This is a film which is a must-have for any fan of the horror genre. Even those who traditionally avoid the horror genre because they are turned off by many of its conventions will appreciate this fine film. While it is extremely bloody, violent and scary, it is a film that shouldn't be missed.
Like "Scream," "Scream 2" is presented in Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Thankfully, "Scream 2" is presented in an anamorphic transfer, enhanced for 16 X 9 televisions. The transfer looks good throughout the film, with few imperfections and bright, colors. The skin tones look fairly true, and the fine transfer makes everything look a bit more gruesome and real.
"Scream 2" is presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound transfer. The sound of the film sounds great, with an enjoyable use of surround sound. With the right video and audio presentation in one's home theater or, more likely, living room. If one turns off the lights and turns up the sound, one can easily recreate the theatrical experience, and once again, the dialogue, music and sound effects all sound great.
The special "Collector's Series" DVD, a special version for the Box Set, is well loaded with bonus materials. Containing a number of television commercials, the theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, a short behind-the-scenes featurette, a number of outtakes, two music videos, a few deleted scenes, with optional commentary, and a feature length commentary track by Director Wes Craven, Editor Patrick Lussier, and Producer Marianne Maddalena.
The Feature-Length Commentary Track- Once again, Wes Craven and company provides an entertaining and informative commentary track that keeps the listener engaged throughout the entire length of the film. Although only a portion comes out in his movies, Craven has a good sense of humor and takes the subject of his film a bit lightly, without a true acknowledgment of what a fine trilogy he has created. Particularly funny, as Craven is pointing out the many, many crew cameos in the film that it might not be such a good idea to have these members of the crew appearing in the film without Screen Actor's Guild cards, and then proceeds to joke, "Oh yeah, here's the production assistant who does have a SAG card," etc.
While the first "Scream" film became a huge hit with few expectations preceding it, the sequel came with much fanfare and a great amount of interest in the plot and who the killer was going to be. As discussed in the commentary, very early on, the first 30 pages of the script ended up on the internet, and the creative team had to constantly rewrite to preserve the film's secrets. Craven's discussion of this experience is quite interesting, as is having the opportunity to hear about the various plot ideas that could have been, such as characters with whom they had flirted about making them the killer (or an additional killer).
There is also a large discussion of how the sequel came about, and how the story developed. The commentary track was recorded after "Scream 3" was made, so it is done with an eye towards the story development over the course of the trilogy, but, generally the perspective of the filmmakers on the film and its creation is well worth listening to. Also compelling is the discussion about the various red herrings and plot devices used to throw the viewer off the scent of the killer and to keep them on their toes.
The Production Featurette- This is a rather short montage featurette, showing the experience of making the film, working with the actors, setting up scenes, etc. While quite similar to the featurettes done for the other "Scream" films, it is always enjoyable to see the fun that the cast and crew had on the set and to see why so many famous actors and actresses wanted to be a part of the film. Similarly, the outtakes, largely a collection of fouled-up lines and scenes is an extension of this experience, as cast and crew seem to be constantly breaking into laughter.
The Music Videos- Included on the DVD are videos for "Scream" by Master P and "Suburban Life" by the Kottonmouth Kings. While the Master P song and video is bearable, the Kottonmouth Kings video is not. A bunch of Eminem-looking Beastie Boys wanna-be's do not demonstrate much talent at much other than being derivative. Their inclusion on this DVD are likely to promote the bands, rather than give the viewer a treat.
Deleted Scenes- The DVD contains two deleted scenes with optional commentary tracks. While none of the scenes would really have added measurably to the film, they are interesting nonetheless. The first of the scenes is an alternate take on the whole "sequel inferiority" discussion, more focused between Mickey and Randy. The second scene is simply a scene in which Derek and Mickey come over to Sydney's dorm room with Donuts, and there is the obligatory cop joke about them taking the jelly donuts.
While horror sequels are often less bold or enjoyable and more formulaic than their predecessors, Scream 2 is the exception to the rule. It is obvious that the filmmakers did not take the first film's success for granted and have truly endeavored to make a sequel worthy of the original. In this endeavor, they have succeeded.