Combustible Celluloid
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With: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Liev Schreiber, Jerry O'Connell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Omar Epps, Heather Graham, Elise Neal, Kevin Williamson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Timothy Olyphant, Jamie Kennedy, Duane Martin, Laurie Metcalf, Lewis Arquette, Rebecca Gayheart, Portia de Rossi, Tori Spelling, Luke Wilson, David Warner, Roger L. Jackson (voice)
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Directed by: Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: R for language and strong bloody violence
Running Time: 120
Date: 12/10/1997

Scream 2 (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Scream Again

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Wes Craven's Scream (1996) was so successful that a sequel was quickly rushed into production, but looking at Scream 2 now, it seems as if it had been part of the plan all along. Writer Kevin Williamson jumped right back into his supremely clever post-modern idea with fresh fervor, and Craven attacked it with his trademark gift for fluidity and three-dimensional scary space. The result is one of the best sequels ever made, even if it's still a bit underrated by horror fanatics.

It begins as the events from the first film have been packaged and turned into a new horror film, Stab. At the premiere, a young couple (Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett Smith) is slaughtered as the killings begin anew. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is away at college, with a new boyfriend, Derek (Jerry O'Connell). Her old friend and fellow survivor Randy (Jamie Kennedy) is also around. When news of the copycat killings starts to spread, newswoman Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) turns up; she has also cashed in, having published a book about the original killings. Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), who had been wrongly accused of the original murders, also turns up, also looking to make some money from his troubles. And bumbling deputy Dewey (David Arquette) arrives, feeling personally responsible for Sidney's safety.

Actually there are quite a few characters here, so I'll just list the rest of the major cast members: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Timothy Olyphant, Laurie Metcalf, Lewis Arquette, Rebecca Gayheart, Portia de Rossi, plus Tori Spelling, Luke Wilson and Heather Graham as Stab cast members, as well as various cameos. I suppose that if the movie has any flaws, it's this huge cast list, and the 120-minute running time necessary to deal with them all.

In-between attacks, the cast members discuss the concept of sequels and what all this means for poor Sidney. What are the rules now? It helps that Randy is taking college film courses and contributes to the discussion in an educated way. Then the attacks are pure Craven: no one uses three-dimensional space quite the way he does. The killer can be loose in a house, and Craven will track and follow without cutting, showing the entire space. Hence, the killer could be anywhere at any time. In one especially gripping sequence, Sidney and her housemate Hallie (Elise Neal) are trapped in a police car. The killer is unconscious in the front seat, but masked, so they can't tell if he's really awake or not. Sidney must crawl past him to get to the only working door, keeping as quiet and as still as possible, and wary of any sudden moves...

It's too bad that most horror movies have ignored both the major factors of the Scream series: the cleverness and the clarity. But now more than a decade old, these old-timers that once seemed so modern still manage to hold up quite well. Lionsgate has got ahold of the three Dimension titles and released them on three new Blu-Rays, complete with tons of extras. The Scream 2 disc comes with a commentary track, deleted scenes, featurettes, outtakes, and trailers.

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