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Scream 2

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Scream 2

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox
Director: Wes Craven
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: December 1997
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Liev Schreiber, Rebecca Gayheart, David Arquette, Lewis Arquette, David Benton, Portia De Rossi, Karolin Effington, Omar Epps, Sarah Michelle Gellar

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1.  MrBrown review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
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Review by MrBrown
3½ stars out of 4

Rushed into production mere months after the release of the blockbuster original, Scream 2 appears, in theory, to be no different than the quickie slasher sequels it lampoons. But Wes Craven's smart, self-referential Scream was unlike any other splatterfest, and now that film has developed into a most intriguing and unconventional horror franchise with the release of this followup--an exciting and wonderfully witty romp that manages to add some luster to the much-maligned concept of "sequel."

Scream 2 is an even more satiric film than its predecessor, and this tone is established quickly with the opening scene. Windsor College students Maureen Evans (Jada Pinkett) and Phil Stevens (Omar Epps) attend a sneak preview of the new horror movie Stab, which, as it turns out, is based on the Windsboro, California murder spree depicted in the original film. So we see a hilariously letter-perfect recreation of Scream's now-classic prologue, with a short-wigged Heather Graham assuming Drew Barrymore's role as a Jiffy Pop-making blonde being terrorized over the phone by a movie-obsessed psycho. The restaging of the scene in and of itself would be sufficiently satiric for most writers, but screenwriter Kevin Williamson (who also penned the original) goes the extra mile, having Maureen vocally mock its conventions ("Star-69 his ass!"). As smart and fun as Scream was, it certainly had its share of cheesy aspects, and it is refreshing--not to mention surprising and brave--to see Williamson and Craven poke fun at their original film to such mercilessly hilarious effect. This movie-based-on-the-first-movie-within-its-sequel conceit, which is revisited sporadically throughout the film (a highlight is Owen Wilson's dead-on impresonation of Skeet Ulrich's slacker "cool" in a later scene), perfectly embodies Scream 2's overall attitude--self-aware and more than willing to make fun of itself.

Two years have passed since the Woodsboro murders, and heroine Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is now a theatre major at Windsor, and film geek Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is--natch--a film student there (you would think he would be rejected, given his extensive qualifications). Yet while the scenery and atmosphere around her are different, her luck is not, and before long she once again finds herself stalked by a killer in a screaming ghoul costume. Soon reentering the picture are ever-vain tabloid TV reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who is even more of an egomaniac after writing a bestseller on the murders (upon which Stab is based); and ever-dopey Dewey Riley (David Arquette), now-former Woodsboro deputy, who comes to Windsor to offer Sidney some support. The rest of Scream 2's story has been a closely guarded secret, and Dimension Films has gone so far as to issue a letter urging press to not divulge too many plot developments. After seeing the film, it is easy to understand why. While the film does settle into a none-too-surprising slasher rhythm, Williamson cooks up a few surprising plot twists, intelligently incorporating references to the original to propel the sequel's storyline. Also, true to "the rules" of a sequel, he and Craven cook up some elaborately inventive suspense scenes that set the audience on edge.

As effective as the new scare scenes are, there is no shock sequence in Scream 2 that matches the original film's chilling prologue, but that is of little consequence when its humorous side--what makes the Scream movies so special--is stronger than ever. Amid all the carnage and screaming, Williamson and Craven's wit is as sharp as ever, giving dim Dewey overdone "cool" theme music (directly lifted from Hans Zimmer's score for John Woo's Broken Arrow) and throwing in barbs at everything from pop culture fixtures like Sandra Bullock and TV's Friends to "issues" such as the influence of violent movies and African-Americans' traditional non-presence in horror movies. But, of course, the most recurring topic is that of movie sequels. Simply bashing them (which the film does to ample degree) is easy, but Williamson and Craven are a bit more ambitious--attacking their inherent cheesiness while at the same time embracing it, steering events in some quintessentially "only in a sequel" turns with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

An ongoing discussion in Scream 2 revolves around whether or not there has been a movie sequel that is superior to the original. I would not be surprised if in Scream 3 (which is all but a foregone conclusion at this point), we hear the fresh, funny, and frightening Scream 2 mentioned as proof in the positive.

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