Scream and Scream 2 – Review

15 Dec

It can be debated that Wes Craven is the king of modern horror. I strongly believe that he is, but that’s just my opinion that borders on fact. With films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Last House on the Left, it’s clear that he’s left his mark on the horror genre. In 1996, with the help of writer Kevin Williamson, he left an even more distinct map with the Scream franchise. These much talked about horror/satire/mystery films take horror to a meta level that wasn’t explored in the horror genre before, making these films truly unique.

Scream hit the scene in 1996.

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When Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) is brutally murdered, the small town of Woodsboro is thrown into a frenzy. Local high school student Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is having an especially rough time considering that all this is happening so close to the one year anniversary of her mother’s murder. As the body count begins rising, the different players are all put in danger including local policeman Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Sydney’s best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan), and film nut Randy (Jamie Kennedy). Pressure also builds further around Sydney when her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) becomes suspect number 1 and media hound Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) interferes with the investigation and Sydney’s past.

What puts Scream on such a higher level than other slasher films is the writing and characterization that can, in part, be accredited to Craven, but I put most of my praise on writer Kevin Williamson. Every time I watch this movie, I care for the characters just a little bit more. Their witty banter that revolves around horror films is relatable to me, and they’re just much more believable than the cliched victims in films like Friday the 13th and even the original Halloween.

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Along with the writing, it both satirizes and terrifies in perfect unison. After Scream came out in 1996, there was a significant rise in caller ID purchases. That’s a fact, and also hilarious. The opening scene in this film is something straight out of my worst childhood nightmares, and the bloody climax is so god damn cool. In terms of comedy, it works just as well as horror. Horror buffs will appreciate all the little in-jokes, but even newcomers to the genre will still find something to laugh at. Throw in the mystery, and you got yourself a multi-genred masterpiece.

Agree with me or not, I firmly believe Scream is destined to be a horror classic. In my eyes, it already is. Not only did it capture a generation that overwhelmed the mid-90s, but it also succeeds at spoofing and honoring the horror genre. It’s bloody brilliance from the combined minds of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. Need I say more?

But, as with pretty much every horror film, a sequel seemed to be just predestination. Hitting the theaters just one year later, Scream 2 reunited characters and audiences in 1997.

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Having survived the killing spree that took place in Scream, Sydney is trying to get on with her life. Now in college, she has remained close with Randy, lives with her friend Hallie (Elise Neal), and has found love with Derek (Jerry O’Connell). Things are shaken when a murder happens at the premiere of Stab, a film within a film based off of the events of the original, and the media invades Sydney’s school, putting her face to face again with Gale, and reuniting her with Dewey. More students begin dropping and it’s only a matter of time before Sydney herself is at the other end of the knife, unless she can figure out who is behind the mask and why they crave the bloodshed.

As far as sequels go, Scream 2 is as worthy as they come. Being reunited with the survivors of the first film feels just as good every time I put the movie on. All of the new characters work pretty well too. Derek and Hallie have god chemistry with Sydney and are good counter balances to her paranoia, and Timothy Olyphant’s Mickey is just what Randy needs to create fun and memorable film banter, especially about sequels.

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Wes Craven is back directing and Kevin Williamson still penned the movie, so the characters and dialogue are as rich as ever. The screams and the laughs are just about on par with its predecessor, but the sense of mystery doesn’t quite live up to the expectations presented in the first film. In Scream, it’s hard to really figure out who the killer is because of all of the twists and turns the plot takes. In Scream 2, it isn’t really that difficult because a main character pretty much just disappears right in the middle. Then they show back up again, just in time for the climax. There is another twist that is pretty cool, but the whole unmasking thing just doesn’t feel as exciting.

Scream 2 isn’t as great as Scream, but it holds its own with other sequels that are worthy of their predecessors. The film isn’t perfect, nor will it be considered a classic like the first film, but it’s still one of the better modern horror films, even with its satirical elements.

My next review will be covering Scream 3 and Scream 4. Was a trilogy enough, or maybe a fourth was a necessary addition. Check back for my second part of the series. 

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