[Screen It]


(1997) (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Horror: A serial killer stalks college students in a tongue in cheek variation of the slasher genre.
Continuing where the original film, "Scream," left off, the survivors of a serial killer's spree are now in a small college town. Sidney Prescott (NEVE CAMPBELL) and Randy Meeks (JAMIE KENNEDY) hope their previous problems are behind them, but then another serial killing spree begins. Consequently, deputy Dewey Riley (DAVID ARQUETTE) arrives in town to protect Sidney. Likewise, TV reporter Gale Weathers (COURTENEY COX), who wrote a book on the original murders that's been turned into a movie itself, also shows up to cover the breaking story.

Cotton Weary (LIEV SCHREIBER), the man Sidney initially accused of killing her mother, arrives as well and wants Sidney to do an interview with him on TV. While some people, including roommate Hallie (ELISE NEAL) and boyfriend Derek (JERRY O'CONNELL), try to comfort Sidney, others, such as Randy the film buff, and local reporter Debbie Salt (LAURIE METCALF) try to figure out who the killer is and whether they're creating a sequel to the original murders. Soon everyone becomes a suspect, but as the body count rises Sidney and Gale do what they can to prevent themselves from becoming the killer's next victims.

Preteens probably won't, but teens most likely will, especially if they're fans of the original, or horror films in general. In addition, the attractive cast (Courteney Cox, Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, etc...) may draw many as well.
For language and strong bloody violence.
  • NEVE CAMPBELL plays a character who, other than acting rather illogically toward the end, doesn't appear to have any major bad traits.
  • COURTENEY COX plays a self-serving reporter who smokes a little, curses even more, and uses the murders only to further her own career.
  • DAVID ARQUETTE plays a deputy who returns to protect Sidney and try to stop the killer.


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    Horror movies have been part of film making since the dawn of celluloid. While the various "monsters" used to scare audiences have changed over the years -- from Frankenstein's monster, to chainsaw wielding maniacs to deranged serial killers -- the end result is that audiences shriek and hide their eyes in terror, but also in delight from being frightened. In 1978, director John Carpenter brought us "Halloween," the first of what would become a long line of "slasher" films that popularized the next decade or so of movie making.

    Progressively getting worse as they copied the simple, albeit successful formula, but leaving out any originality, the films were noted for their "stupid" characters. Not that they had low I.Q.'s (though that's debatable), but their behavior lacked any real common sense. They'd wander into darkened rooms, turns their backs when they believed killers were nearby, and would always split up with one character (usually the male) telling the other (usually a female), "Stay here." Of course, they'd end up meeting a grisly demise that the audience could see coming before they even sat down in the theater.

    With the slasher films waning into the cinematic sunset, famed horror maven Wes Craven ("Nightmare on Elm Street") decided it was time to inject the genre with a little originality and an eye toward self parody. Working from screenwriter Kevin Williamson's clever script, Craven embodied his characters with a working knowledge of films, including the top tips on how to survive a horror film if suddenly put in one. The result was 1996's surprise hit, "Scream," that turbo injected the genre, brought in the teenage fans, and pushed the film's grosses over the $100 million mark.

    Of course with such success, the inevitable sequel had to follow, and thus the appearance of "Scream 2." Following the formula of the original, this film has an attractive young cast who again knows, and continually comments on, the world of horror films. The fact that this is a sequel provides for a great deal of the film's clever moments, and the characters here comment on the "rules" for a sequel (more bodies, more carnage). The beginning in particular is very clever in that we see a film within this film that portrays what happened in the first film. Following me so far?

    Part of the spoof is seeing the Drew Barrymore opening from the original now being played out as a fictitious movie (and later starring Tori Spelling, another "in" joke). At a promotional screening for this film, "Stab," the audience wears masks identical to the one the killer wore in the original, all the better, of course, to hide amongst if you're the real killer. Jada Pinkett plays an African- American woman who comments while watching the movie that African American characters are never in these movies, and then says that she'd be smarter than the characters on screen. It doesn't take much imagination to guess what happens to her next.

    More imagination is what's needed, however, in the film's second half that follows in the footsteps of the original and loses steam as the clever material quickly evaporates. Although the body count rises, it unfortunately replaces what made the film unique. We're then subjected to the standard slasher film material where the killer chases the heroine around for a while. More egregious is the fact that the characters resort to breaking the rules set forth in the original and early in this film -- they get stupid and do illogical things.

    For instance, after a rather harrowing sequence where Sidney must crawl over the apparently unconscious killer to get out of a car, she doesn't grab the clearly visible gun, or even unmask the killer (why spoil the inevitable revealing at the end?). No, instead she rushes back to what she knows would be an empty theater building for no apparent reason other than to allow the killer to chase her around a bit more.

    Such moments, as in the films this movie makes fun of, diffuse what had earlier been built up and are accordingly disappointing. Sure, there are a few obligatory jump scenes, that also make heavy use of sudden music to get that reaction, as well as some tense, scary moments. The most effective include the above-mentioned car escape sequence and a fun scene using foam walls (used in sound recording studios) set up in a maze (for no logical reason other than to be set up like a maze) where Cox and the killer play a game of cat and mouse.

    Yet, once the clever material is gone, the rest of the film falls into the standard slasher film scenes, and offers little originality. One wishes that Williamson and Craven were more clever in having the remaining characters survive and defeat the killer. Likewise, while the film tries to dangle a few red herrings in front of us concerning the killer's identity, it's not done effectively enough to really make us think it's any of the major characters.

    Still, our preview audience seemed to enjoy the "ride" and it will no doubt please fans of the original and of horror films in general. The characters' stupidity worked as many audience members screamed out instructions for the on screen characters to follow ("watch out"). As we said in our review of the original, however, these are all "surface" scares. There's nothing here that unnerves you or gets under your skin. Some moments might make you jump, but they won't give you nightmares or a case of the late-night "heebie jeebies."

    Unfortunately, this is probably the future of horror films, and the target audience will eat it up. Unfortunately, those teenagers weren't born when the truly scary films -- "The Haunting," "The Exorcist," "The Omen," etc... -- were being made and scaring the daylights out of their baby boomer parents. If you want to see really scary films, rent one of those. Certain to be another huge success, this film has its moments, but it's just not scary enough to rate as one of the best of the genre. We give "Scream 2" a 5 out of 10.

    If you've seen the original or any other horror "slasher" type film, then you pretty much know what's in store with this one. Many people are brutally murdered, often with quite graphic and bloody results. The killing is desensitized (other than the immediate startle reaction) and an early scene in a theater -- while spoofing the genre -- nearly glorifies the violence and mayhem. Profanity is extreme with nearly 30 "f" words, but surprisingly there's not the obligatory nude or sexually related scene. Obviously the film will be rather intense for some viewers. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you read through the material to determine whether it's appropriate for anyone in your family.

  • Some students at a sorority party drink.
  • Fraternity members pour beer onto Derek who's tied up to a wall.
  • Many people are killed during the movie, usually with a knife and occasionally via gunshots (see "Violence" for specific details). Consequently, there is an extreme amount of bloodletting from these violent encounters. We see blood pouring from wounds, from mouths, and across floors, windows, etc... as well as on the killer's knife.
  • Some viewers may find an early scene in the movie where audience members (dressed like the killer in identical masks) cheer the on screen death of a woman as having both (granted it's not played to be taken completely at face value).
  • Obviously the killer has extreme cases of both.
  • Gale has both as she not only capitalized on the original murders by writing a best-selling book, but she returns and is mean toward many people. She later gets better, but only after many more people have been killed and she realizes she's a target as well.
  • Cotton threatens Sidney if she doesn't show up for an interview that will benefit him.
  • The movie is filled with numerous scenes where the killer chases, attacks, or kills many victims (see "Violence" for details). Whether you or you children find them really scary depends on the age of the viewer and their fright tolerance level.
  • The killer's ghoulish mask may frighten some viewers, particularly if they're young.
  • A woman at a theater (watching a scary movie) is attacked by the killer.
  • A sorority woman is chased through her house and attacked.
  • Sidney is chased through a house by the killer.
  • Sidney rehearses a scene from a theatrical performance where masked characters come after her and she believes that she sees the killer among them.
  • A man is pulled into a van and killed.
  • Gale is pursued through a maze-like arrangement of walls in a "game" of cat and mouse with the killer.
  • Sidney and Hallie find themselves stuck in a car where the only way out is to crawl across the lap of the seemingly unconscious killer in the front seat.
  • The ending, of course, is one long sequence where several people are killed after tense and occasionally frightening moments.
  • Knife/Handguns: Used to injure and/or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Dumb ass," "Bitch" (toward women), "Chicken sh*t," "Suck," "Hard on" (non sexual), "Blow job," "Bonehead," and "D*ckhead."
  • There are many instances where the killer jumps out at unsuspecting characters, or where knives come jabbing out through doors, etc.... The use of sudden, jarring music further accentuates the effect and many viewers may be jumping from their seats quite often.
  • There's a heavy amount of standard horror film music throughout various parts of the film.
  • None.
  • At least 29 "f" words (1 used with "mother"), 21 "s" words, 1 slang term each for male and female genitals (the "d" and "p" words respectively), 12 asses (1 used with "hole"), 3 hells, 1 crap, and 3 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh my God," 2 uses of "Jesus," and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Jesus Christ," "Oh God," and "My God" as exclamations.
  • A guy tells his girlfriend that "scary movies are great foreplay."
  • A sorority member tells Sidney, "They think sororities are just about blow jobs, but that's not true."
  • Dewey and Gale kiss and we see his hand on her breast, but they stop when they hear the killer.
  • Gale smokes in one scene.
  • None.
  • The lighthearted way the murders are represented (ie. desensitizing the violence).
  • A man is stabbed in the head through a toilet stall wall and blood pours from his mouth and head.
  • A person in the movie within the movie gets stabbed.
  • A woman in a movie theater is stabbed in the stomach and then repeatedly stabbed again as she tries to escape.
  • Sidney backhands Gale and knocks her to the ground.
  • The killer chases a woman through a sorority house and then throws her through a window out onto a balcony. The killer then repeatedly stabs her before throwing her to the pavement below where the impact kills her and a large pool of blood flows away from her.
  • The killer chases Sidney through a house, stabbing his knife through a door. Derek shows up and runs into the house and we then see him with a cut, bloody arm.
  • Searching for the killer who's called on the phone, Dewey and Gale grab people (with Dewey jumping on one) to see if they're the suspect.
  • A man is pulled into a van by the killer and stabbed to death. Moments later we see lots of blood dripping from the van and then see the victim who is also very bloody.
  • A man is grabbed and stabbed in a soundproof room with blood squirting onto the glass wall, and pouring from his mouth.
  • The killer slits one man's throat (very bloody) and then kicks the passenger and bashes him into a car many times. Later, this man is impaled by a large metal pipe (we see it sticking through his head and it's quite bloody).
  • A woman is suddenly grabbed and stabbed to death.
  • A man is shot in the chest (blood pours out from the hole) and dies.
  • Sidney and the killer fight each other with her kicking and punching the killer and the killer then throwing her up against a wall.
  • A person is shot several times who then gets off a shot that hits a third person (all are bloody).
  • In the end the killers are shot, and then shot several times again (very bloody, with one having a bullet hole in the head) to make sure they're dead.

  • Reviewed December 9, 1997

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