Okay, I can do this. I mean, it is perfectly understandable that they would make a sequel to what people thought was a fresh take on the slasher subgenre, right? Who cares if something is unique and complete like Scream (1996)? It does not mean that they are going to basically do the same movie all over again, but this time with a couple of dumb plot twists at the end . . . right? I am psyching myself up this way because after reviewing the current bookends of the Screamfranchise, there are three more of these turkeys to discuss. Why do I need to convince myself in this manner? Because I am fairly certain that if you were to lay the film strips of each movie over one another, glue them together, and them play them on a projector, the result would be blend of all five that, instead of being a chaotic mess, would seamlessly blend with each other. I have been thinking about that joke for a few days. In other words, they made the same stinkin’ movie five times, and for reasons completely beyond my comprehension, people kept lapping them up with gusto. Hopefully, by the end of this slog I will not have lost my ever-loving mind. In the meantime, here is my commentary on Scream 2 (1997).
The one part of the five films played at once that would be discordant with the others would be the beginning of Scream 2. Instead of having the requisite phone call with the Ghostface killer (sorry Wu Tang Clan) menacing a teenage girl alone in her house, we have Phil Stevens (Omar Epps) and Maureen Evans (Jada Pinkett-Smith) attending a showing of the in-movie film version of the events in Scream (1996) known as Stab. As an aside, I sincerely hope that our society never gets so callous as to have people gleefully donning a costume of violent serial killers to cheer on as they watch a cinematic production of these gruesome exploits. Anyway, the death date of Maureen and Phil serves to reintroduce what Scream 2 is about: murder. Because these slayings are so similar to what had happened in Woodsboro, news media rush to the college where the main survivor of the original Ghostface attacks, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), is attending. Part of this crew is Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), who, with the exonerated Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) from the murder of Sidney’s mother, is trying to arrange an interview with the two. Sidney wants nothing to do with Cotton, being still suspicious of him, and is upset with Gale for continuing to hound her. Sidney does receive some help from a couple of sources. The first is her new boyfriend Derek Feldman (Jerry O’Connell). The second is the slightly crippled Dewey Riley (David Arquette), the result of the stabbing he suffered at the hands of the last killer. There is also another holdover from before, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), who is on hand once more to explain the rules of a slasher sequel. This is, of course, not easy because our masked fiend is running around knifing people to death. Run-run, stab-stab. As with them all, once the characters are introduced, it is simply a matter of the so-called plot leading you around for almost two hours while it tries to trick you into who is the real killer. As always happens, Sidney, Gale, and Dewey must learn to work together in order to survive until the climactic reveal. Because Sidney had been previously betrayed by a boyfriend, her list of likely suspects includes Derek. Yet, he is brutally erased from this list when Sidney finds him passed out and tied to a cross, the result of a fraternity hazing ritual. Before she can free him, the murderer reveals himself to be Mickey Altieri (Timothy Olyphant), one of Derek’s friends. There is no motive for this, but he does have a partner with one. This is when reporter Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf) steps forward. Instead of being the correspondent she claims to be, she is instead the mother of Billy Loomis, one of the murderers from the last movie and Sidney’s ex-boyfriend. After shooting Mickey, she turns her attention on Sidney, who flees. When she finally catches up with Sidney, she is about to kill our heroine until she is saved by Cotton, in exchange for an interview with them and Diane Sawyer. There is the requisite resurrection of Mickey, until he joins Mrs. Loomis’ corpse, doing so with Gale’s timely intervention. Cotton finally gets the recognition of the innocence he sought, and Dewey and Gale ride away in an ambulance.
Alright, almost done here with Scream 2. Before I wrap this up, however, I will discuss a topic brought up at the end of the film. Because the killers always monologue at the climactic moment about their motives and how they plan to get away with their crimes, it bears repeating what Mickey claims as his defense. In short, he blames violent movies. Yes, all those bloody movies have turned poor Mickey into a victim who is forced to satiate his blood lust with murder. It is, of course, an excuse, and Mrs. Loomis points out the absurdity of it after she shoots him. As a teenager, I used to think such notions were absurd, too. As an adult, I am not so sure. An idea I return to often in thinking on what we consume for entertainment pertains to the title of a documentary I reviewed for The Legionnaire called Chosen: Custody of the Eyes(2017). In it, Sister Amata reminds us that we should do as the subtitle suggests, take charge of the things that we see. Images can have a corrupting influence on us. Studies on the ill effects of prolonged exposure to pornography support this point. Some are better equipped to handle seeing bad images more than others. In my role as a film critic, I do not enjoy everything I see in films. Thank God for Confession, and I feel sorry for people who do not turn to God when they are feeling weakened by the onslaught of awful images with which our culture assaults us daily. Hence, to speak to Mickey’s concerns, with whom does the blame lie? Is it Hollywood’s responsibility to guard their content, our own to be careful about what we consume? Mickey seems to blame anyone but himself. I believe we have a role to play, and it is a major reason why I have this blog.
Right, one down, two to go. I do not recommend Scream 2.
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