The second Scream film is just as fun as the first, though it doesn’t have the exact charm and charisma as the original. That said, I do love it. It has charm in its own way, as most good sequels do, although it is hard to find really good horror sequels these days. However, now that we’ve already been introduced to Ghostface, and Sidney’s plight, it is no longer really scary. Creepy and entertaining, yes, but not scary as the first one was, particularly considering no scene in any other Scream film could match the tension and terror of watching Casey Becker fight for her life. That’s just a fact.
We open at the premiere of the new film, Stab, which is based on Gale Weathers’ new book, The Woodsboro Murders, and the first film. A young couple, Maureen and Phil (Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps), are waiting in line to get in, when she begins a clever, and smart, diatribe about how the horror genre always excludes African-Americans, and if they are in them, they always die. Maureen would rather go see a Sandra Bullock film, but goes to Stab to appease her boyfriend. The theater is packed with rowdy fans, all donning Ghostface costumes that were part of a free promotion package by the film studio. This is really an interesting look at how horror films make people crazy, almost like some kind of generational thing, like Woodstock or protests. Anyway, Maureen and Phil take their seats, and as the movie starts, she wants some popcorn. Heather Graham plays Casey Becker onscreen, but it’s way more dramatized and fictionalized than what really happened. As Maureen comes back, Phil jumps out at her with the Ghostface mask on. He tells her to go ahead in, because he has to go to the bathroom. In the men’s room, he waits patiently at the urinals for two guys wearing full Ghostface costumes, who stare at him eerily. He decides to use a stall, and hears light talking next door. Curious, he leans his head closer to the wall, and is stabbed through the head by the assailant on the other side. Now, it’s Maureen’s turn, and the killer returns to Phil’s seat with a mask on. She, of course, think it’s him, and begins shrieking at the film and holding onto his arm. She notices her hands are now covered in blood, as the killer whips out a knife and stabs her in the stomach. She gets up, trying to get away, as the killer continues to stab her viciously. A woman in the audience notices blood spatter on her arm, but the rest of the audience thinks, at first, that it’s not real. Maureen makes her way up to the screen, and stands in the front of the picture, crying out. Only now does the crowd get that it is real, and Maureen falls to the floor, dead.
Next, we are brought back into Sidney’s world, as she is now attending Windsor College, and lives with roommate and new best friend, Hallie (Elise Neal). She is prank phone called because of the premiere of the movie, but now has Caller ID, so she can shut that shit down (I love how this is at the beginning of the call screening era – Star 69 and Caller ID boxes, which Maureen also referenced). On TV, we see that Cotton Weary has been freed and exonerated of Maureen Prescott’s murder, and is now doing his best to rectify his good name. A news broadcast comes on, announcing the murders at the movie premiere, and Sidney knows it’s starting again. She goes to find Randy, who is busy in film class, debating the suck factor, or not, of sequels, and the effects of violence on society. This is where we are first introduced to Cici (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Mickey (Timothy Olyphant), and another film student, trying to make a case for House II: The Second Story, played by Pacey Witter, I mean, Joshua Jackson! 🙂 I love the Dawson’s Creek reference, which is not surprising, considering Kevin Williamson created the Scream franchise and DC. After class, Sidney tries to convince Randy to take the new murders seriously, but he just wants to go back to their “pseudo-quasi-happy-existence”. We also meet Sid’s new boyfriend, Derek, who Randy is obviously supremely jealous of. Gale Weathers is back in town, promoting her new book, and still crusading for Cotton Weary’s innocence. She is accosted by a female reporter, Debbie Salt (played by Laurie Metcalf, aka Jackie Harris from Roseanne), who sings her praises, but is also very annoying. She also has a new cameraman, the funny and sarcastic Joel (Duane Martin).
Sidney is constantly being hounded by two perky sorority girls (Rebecca Gayheart and Portia de Rossi) who are bent on getting her and Hallie to pledge. Sid is happily surprised when Dewey shows up, concerned for her safety because of the recent murders. Gale is also on the warpath, forcing Sidney and Cotton to confront one another, on camera, without Sid’s knowledge or consent. So, she punches her again, and deservedly so. Supportive Hallie quips to Joel, “Did ya get that on film?”, to which he responds, mockingly, “Yes, I got that on film!” Ha, I just think it’s funny. The writing is on par with that of the original Scream, especially when it comes to the squabbles between Gale and Dewey, who come face-to-face. Dewey confronts Gale about the way she described him in the book (“Deputy Dewey filled the room with his Barney Fife-ish presence”, “Deputy Dewey oozed with inexperience”). She tells him it didn’t mean anything but he’s not buying it. He attempts to get his point across by saying, “How do you know that my dim-witted inexperience isn’t merely a subtle form of manipulation used to lower people’s expectations, thereby enhancing my ability to effectively manuever within any given situation??” Oh, boy, that line just kills me. He’s so right. No one ever thought that maybe Dewey acts unassuming on purpose. He really gives Gale the business, even telling her sarcastically, “Nice streaks”, about her hair, which looks, well, not great.
That night, at the sorority party, Sidney continues to be harassed by the ditzy girls, and Randy and Mickey continue arguing the attributes of film sequels. Meanwhile, at the Omega Beta Zeta house, Cici is harassed by Ghostface, and is subsequently killed by being stabbed and thrown off the third floor balcony. News spreads, and the party breaks up to go check it out. Sidney is distraught and goes to grab her jacket to leave. The phone rings, and of course, she answers it. It’s Ghostface, who proceeds to attack her. Derek attempts to help and is nearly stabbed through the front door. She makes her way out of the house, and Derek goes in to find the killer. He is cut on the arm, and Dewey arrives and saves the day. At the hospital, Dewey makes it known that it’s awfully convenient that Derek’s wounds were minor, and that he suspects him. Gale and the police come to the conclusion that someone is trying to copy Woodsboro and its victims (Casey “Cici” Cooper = Casey Becker, Phil Stevens = Steven Orth, Maureen Evan = Maureen Prescott), so Sidney is put under the surveillance of two plain-clothes guards. Sidney tells Derek that he should just stay away from her because she doesn’t want him to get hurt.
However, Derek won’t take no for an answer, and proceeds to serenade her at lunch with “I Think I Love You” in front of many other students. He gives her his Greek letters, which according to Mickey is a “big frat faux-pas”, and she accepts, kissing him, as the crowd cheers. Later on, Randy and Dewey have a delightful conversation in an ice cream shop, where they see on television an interview with Tori Spelling in the movie Stab (“Thanks, Dewey, with my luck, they’d cast Tori Spelling” – well, they did). He says he’s not impressed and that he’ll wait for video. He’s also pissed because the guy that plays him is just some “Joe Blow Nobody” and that Dewey got David Schwimmer. Billy is played in the film by Luke Wilson, and he’s got the greasy, messy hair down pat. Randy then proceeds to list his rules for a sequel, which are as follows:
- The body count is always bigger.
- The death scenes are much more elaborate, more blood, more gore – carnage candy!
- If you want your sequel to become a franchise, never, ever….assume the killer is dead.
He is actually interrupted by Dewey on the third rule, but it is stated in the film’s trailer. He then talks about the suspects, Derek – the obvious boyfriend (“The guy’s pre-med, and his pity-me service wound conveniently missed every major vein and artery”), Mickey – the freaky Tarantino film student (“But if he’s a suspect, so am I, so let’s move on”), and Hallie (“Mrs. Voorhees was a terrific serial killer, and there’s always room for Candyman’s daughter!”) This scene is one of my favorites, really giving the audience their much-needed Randy fill. I always felt he wasn’t a huge part of the first one, so I was glad he got more lines here. Joel confronts Gale about how her cameraman died (“First of all, he wasn’t gutted, I made that up. His throat was slashed”), to which Joel replies, “Gale – gutted, slashed – the guy ain’t in the union no more!” This guy is so great, and I especially liked his earlier line, “I came here to do an interview, not Face of Death 14“. Brilliant. Sidney has been cast as Cassandra in the school’s play about Troy, and seems to see Ghostface everywhere, including on stage. She begins to get more suspicious of Derek, and tells him she needs distance.
Later that day, Randy, Dewey, Gale, and Joel are sitting around in the courtyard of the college, discussing who the killer might be. When Gale brings up Kenny, we get more great Joel lines: “Okay, time out. I don’t need to be hearing about no dead cameraman, alright? I’m warning you, I am a verb away from vacating these premises. I’m gonna go get me some donuts, some Prozac, see if I can find some crack, Special K, X – not Malcolm, and I’ll be back when y’all start talkin’ about something a little more Saved by the Bell-ish!” Ha, I LOVE IT! After Joel leaves, Randy answers Gale’s incessantly ringing phone, and it’s the killer. He’s watching them, so Gale and Dewey go on the hunt to find someone with a phone, while Randy keeps him talking. Randy says that his favorite scary movie is Showgirls (“Absolutely frightening!”), and rattles off a list of movies he thinks the killer would like. The killer taunts Randy by saying he’ll never be the leading man or ever get the girl, causing Randy to go off on him. He tells him he shouldn’t copycat “two high school loser-ass dickheads”, calling Stu a “pussy ass wet rag” and Billy a “rat-lookin’, homo-repressed Mama’s boy”. He gets to “You wanna be one of the big boys? Manson, Bundy, O.J. –“, and he is pulled into the news van, and stabbed to death. Oh, wow, I hate that he dies. I really loved Randy’s character, and I hated it, though I know it was bound to happen eventually.
Dewey and Gale become concerned about Randy, and Joel comes back. They all find him dead in the van, and Joel faints, and Gale screams. Back in the library, Sidney begins receiving threatening instant messages, prompting the guards to search everyone’s computer. Cotton appears, and tries to talk Sidney into going on a Diane Sawyer interview with him. She refuses, and he gets pissed, yelling, “Loveable and fucked up Sidney Prescott – everybody’s favorite little victim!” He is arrested, but let go, because they have nothing to pin on him. Sidney and friends are upset about Randy’s murder, and the cops decide to put her in a safe house. Joel decides to quit his job, Gale tells off the annoying newswoman, and she and Dewey decide to go look at news footage, seeing if the killer is among the crowds. They go to one of the classrooms in the audio-visual department, and start looking at tapes. Dewey tells Gale he’s sorry he was rude, and she says she never meant to hurt him. They start making out, finally rekindling what they had in the original, when another tape begins playing. It is footage of all the victims shortly before their deaths, and the couple looks up, and sees Ghostface up in the projector room. Dewey goes after him, but he’s already back around to Gale, and begins chasing her. Dewey falls down the stairs, and Gale ends up eluding the killer in soundstages, and different rooms.
Dewey ends up in a sound proof room right next to Gale, but she cannot see that he is being stabbed in the back until he yells into the microphone. He spits up blood all over the window, and we assume he is dead. Back at the dorms, Sidney gets ready to leave for the safe house with Hallie and the two guards. She says goodbye to Derek, and he is kidnapped by his frat brothers for giving away his Greek letters. He is taken to the theater, and tied to the huge Sun that is used as a prop in the play. The killer attacks Sidney’s car at the stoplight, and kills the driver. The other cop is beaten and run over, but manages to stay on the hood of the car as the killer drives into a construction zone. This kills the other cop and knocks the killer unconscious. The only way out, since the car is jammed, is to climb into the front seat, over the killer, and out the driver’s side window. They both do this, quietly and carefully, and begin running. Sidney goes back to see who it is because she’s sick of running, but he’s gone when she looks. The killer jumps out, and stabs Hallie in the chest, and Sid takes off running again. She ends up at the theater. While trying to escape the building, Gale runs into Cotton, whose hands are covered in blood. He says he tried to help Dewey, but she doesn’t believe him. She runs outside to the payphone, where she runs into Debbie Salt, the annoying woman.
At the theater, someone turns on the lights, and brings down all the props for the play, including an unconscious Derek, still attached to the Sun. Sidney tries to untie him, and the killer appears. They both recognize the voice when he says, “Don’tcha know history repeats itself?” It is Mickey, and he takes off the mask. He’s holding a gun to both of them, and he tries to convince Sidney that Derek was his partner, making her question this boyfriend, too. It’s not true though, and Mickey shoots him. He tells Sid he’s going to blame the movies, “the effects of cinema violence on society”. He says, “I’ll get Dershowitz or Cochran to represent me, hell, the Christian Coalition’ll pay my legal fees”. He wants attention and to get caught, which is how he says he distinguishes himself from Billy Loomis. Sid takes off her necklace and whacks him in the face with it. She starts kicking ass, but Mickey overpowers her. He decides to bring in his mystery guest, the other killer – Debbie Salt – who is actually Mrs. Loomis, Billy’s mother. She’s got a gun to Gale, and the four have a stand-off on the stage.
The two killers reveal how they met, on the classified section of a website. When Mickey starts ranting on about their upcoming trial, Mrs. Loomis says there won’t be one, and she shoots him. While he’s falling down, he shoots Gale, who falls into the orchestra pit. Now, it’s just Sidney and Mrs. Loomis. She tells Sidney her “motive isn’t as 90s as Mickey’s, mine’s just good old-fashioned revenge”. She is out to avenge her son’s murder, completely disregarding the fact that he was a psychopathic killer, and Sidney tells her she’s as crazy as he was. Mrs. Loomis tells Sid to blame her mother because of the affair. They begin a tussle, and just as Mrs. Loomis is about to stab Sidney, Cotton shows up, grabs a gun, and shoots it into the air. Mrs. Loomis holds a knife to Sid’s throat, as Cotton tells her, “I bet that Diane Sawyer interview’s lookin’ really good right now”. Sid accepts, and he shoots Mrs. Loomis, knocking them both backward. Sidney recovers, and the two help Gale get up from the orchestra pit. Cotton tells Sid he never would have hurt her, so that last part was just a ruse. Sidney’s worried that they’ll come back just as Mickey pops up again. Gale and Sidney both shoot the shit out of him, and he’s finally dead. Sidney puts one more in Mrs. Loomis’ head, “just in case”. Outside, it is morning, and police and paramedics are on the scene. Joel comes back, hoping he and Gale “can get the scoop, like in the old days”. The paramedics bring out a living Dewey, saying the wound was in his scar tissue. Gale leaves with him in the ambulance. Sidney is accosted with reporters, but she tells them to go talk to Cotton, because he’s the hero. They flock to him, and they give each other a look of understanding and acceptance. Cotton tells them, “No one wants to give you this story more than me, but unfortunately, there is a time, a place, and indeed, a price for everything”, as he hands the reporters his business card. Joel tells him to give them something to work with, to which he says, “I’ll tell you one thing – it’ll make a hell of a movie”. The film ends as Sidney walks across the campus, with Collective Soul singing, “She Said” in the background.
So, this movie’s pretty kick-ass, and I love it, though, like I said, I really do like the first one a lot better. There’s just some kind of magic in the original that I don’t think can be recreated. That said, this is a very nice and worthy sequel, full of blood, gore, great music, fantastic writing and one-liners, and a continuation of Sidney’s tragic story. Let’s see if we can name all the movie references in this one: Final Exam, Graduation Day, The Dorm That Dripped Blood, Splatter University, Showgirls, Terminator, Terminator 2, House II: The Second Story, Return of the Jedi, The Godfather: Part II, some unnamed Sandra Bullock film, Faces of Death, Alien, Aliens, did I miss any? Let me know if I did!
The soundtrack is great, featuring catchy tunes from Collective Soul, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Less Than Jake, and The Eels, among others. Once again, the ending credits are superb, showing the cast with a snapshot of their face, which I absolutely love. I loathed the fact that Randy died, but like I said, I knew it was going to eventually happen. I just thought he might have made it to the end, at least. Mickey was a terrific serial killer, truly psychotic, and his motives were out of this world. Timothy Olyphant was brilliant, as was Laurie Metcalf. With her big, expressive eyes, she can really pull off a serial murderer. It was just kind of strange seeing Jackie from Roseanne as a lunatic. I also liked that the police chief was played by Lewis Arquette, David’s real life father. Joel was a great cameraman, and I was glad he survived, unlike poor Kenny. He was very self-aware, and got the hell out of dodge in the nick of time. Cotton was very interesting, and I was happy to see he actually had some lines in this one, unlike the original. I liked that throughout the whole movie, the audience probably thought he was the killer, especially the way he acted towards Sidney in the library. The film also made it seem like Randy could be the killer, because after Cici is murdered, Sidney asks him what took him so long to get their drinks at the party. I figured Mickey would be the killer, but the Mrs. Loomis angle came completely out of the blue, and I was truly impressed. A great, great sequel – very fun, clever, and entertaining.