Spotlight
SCREAM 2
4 Stars
Scream 2Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O'Connell, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Director: Wes Craven
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 2hrs
Opening Date: May 1

Do you like scary sequels?

Wes Craven and post-modern writing maestro Kevin Williamson re-team to try and prove that 'frightening' can strike twice. Do they succeed in topping the intensely funny and thrilling original? Not quite, but, as characters in this self-aware movie point out, few sequels are better than the original.
The format treads as closely as a knife-wielding stalker to Scream's narrative, with the novelty that Scream itself is indirectly parodied too. The first film's murderous events have become a best-selling book by sensationalist reporter Gale Weathers (Cox) - which subsequently has become Stab, a motion picture starring Tori Spelling and Heather Graham (she takes the Drew Barrymore role, while Scream fans may remember the joke about Spelling in the original).
But history is repeating itself in 'real life'. Menacing phone calls return to haunt heroine Sidney (Campbell) and her friends Dewey (Arquette) and Randy (Kennedy) come to her aid when the body count starts up once again. Also on the case is Weathers and her new TV cameraman. And, again, nearly everyone becomes a suspect.
As in Scream, Williamson's media-savvy script milks the scenario for pop culture references and in-jokes (at least two of which relate to Cox's fellow Friends stars!). With many scenes being virtual re-shoots of classic Scream moments, however, there are many points where plain déjà vu overtakes both spoofing and suspense. The pacing is very stop-and-go for the first half, but Craven returns to form in the second hour with some tense set-pieces (particularly one in a recording studio). Here, the earlier talk of James Cameron pays off with the Terminator-like direction and tough-girl action from Campbell and Cox.
Scream 2 relies more on traditional cinematic scares than self-referential gags, placing it nearer I Know What You Did Last Summer than the original Scream. The humour is often carried in subtle visual puns (ie, the uncredited cameo by David Warner, providing his usual 'exposition' scene) instead of verbal wisecracks. As genre sequels go this doesn't 'suck' like, say, House II (also spoofed), but at times you may wish that Craven and Williamson had said 'stop us if you've seen this before.'
Scream 2 photo copyright Buena Vista
Ian Calcutt

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