Film Review: Scream 2

While the first film slashed its way to the top of the box office in 1996, it was 1997’s Scream 2 that really cemented the pulling-power of the self-referential “comedy-horror.” Boasting a star-studded cast, including a pre-Smith Jada Pinkett and Elise Neal, Scream 2 was able to successfully reference itself as well as its preceding installment, while remaining fresh enough to pull in $32 million on its opening weekend. In the film, a now college-bound Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is still stalked by a new Ghostface killer, but who could it be this time?

The confirmation and subversion of the horror stereotypes (such as the black character dying first, while also having a black character in a main supporting role) is what made Scream 2 different from the other slashers that attempted to imitate it. We already knew that if a character said they were going to “be right back” they wouldn’t; we already knew that the killer was likely to be one of the main characters.  What Scream 2 did was give us a satisfying third act, without being too far-fetched and not going down the stereotypical slasher route (Scream 3?… not so much).

Seventeen years later and Scream – and many of its sequels – are still fresh. Why?

Sure, we’ve had other self-referential horror’s such as Cabin in the Woods (2012)  and even 2013’s reboot of the Scary Movie franchise, but the characters just aren’t as relatable as they once were. Even when playing into stereotypes, the characters in Scream 2 felt developed. Sidney didn’t revert into the helpless damsel in distress, nor was she a hard, emotionless character. She still had heart, she had interests and we saw her more as a person.

Whether or not a new wave of horror will be able to bring a new sense of freshness to the teen-horror sub-genre is anyone’s guess, but until then I’ll happily return to this installment in one of horror’s most popular franchises.

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