Volume 91, Issue 56

Thursday, January 8, 1998

El nino


One Scream 2 many

©Gazette File Photo
"HELLO, YOU'VE REACHED THE PSYCHIC FRIEND'S NETWORK." Sarah Michelle Gellar is seen here getting advice on an important life decision.

By Jamie Lynn

Gazette Staff

A little more than a year ago, it had been widely assumed that the '80s "slasher" pic was as dead as its on-screen victims, who were often left sprawled on the floor in a pool of blood. Just like those films, however, one should remember that the evil is never really dead, but simply resting.

Well-seasoned horror director Wes Craven knew this when he released Scream at the tail-end of 1996. Craven simply assembled a cast of hot, 20-something actors who were prepared for some on-screen mutilation. By mixing this with some genuine suspense and a very sharp script, Scream was a blast and managed to single-handedly bring this genre back from the dead.

So now, a little less than a year later, Craven has created the inevitable Scream 2, which has essentially followed the same format as the other film. While the first film seemed fresh, exciting and witty, the sequel plays it safe and falls into the infamous trappings of most horror follow-ups.

In Scream 2, the action takes place two years after the original killings (one year longer than the actual release times between the two films) and things are starting to get back to normal for Neve Campbell's character, Sydney Prescott. She is attending a small mid-western university with a new boyfriend (Jerry O'Connell, who is played a chubbier Vern in Stand By Me) that appears not to be a psychotic killer. Nonetheless, things start to deteriorate for poor Sydney when a new movie, based on the first film's killings, is released. On opening night a copycat murder is performed in the theatre just off-campus and soon these murders start happening on-campus. For the rest of the film, the familiar Edward Munch masked killer terrorizes the community.

While Scream 2 is significantly gorier than the first film, it lacks the genuine suspense that was created in the original. Craven, who can normally take an audience on a very terrorizing journey, seems to rely on simply startling the audience – not scaring them.

Also, the script tries too often to be "cute" by spending a great deal of time dealing with various film-versus-reality paradoxes. For instance, in one scene characters are found in their film class discussing the merits of sequel films. The general consensus reached is that these films are inherently flawed and are never quite as relevant as the originals. Clearly, by being so witty and self-reflective, the script is simply trying to make up for its own flaws and plot inconsistencies.

Both Courtney Cox and David Arquette reprise their roles and manage to give inspired performances. Unfortunately, even this can't save Scream 2 from its lifeless script and uninspired direction. The thrills are too moderate and the chills seem practically nonexistent.

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