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'Scream 2 (1997)' A Review

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

I recently had the privilege of screening ‘Scream 2’ on the silver screen for the first time for its 25th anniversary and it remains a gold standard for sequels. Most horror franchises are lucky to get one great sequel but the ‘Scream’ franchise is blessed with many.

‘Scream 2’ is not just a remarkable sequel but many horror buffs and film scholars argue it is even an improvement over the acclaimed original. In most regards this is true and that greatly had to do with all the original film's talents returning with an access to a larger budget. The film increases the scope, improves the make-up and lighting, and maximizes the use of foreground and background action for tension.

Despite some troubles behind the scenes and significant rewrites, ‘Scream 2’ still has a stellar script written by the original ‘Scream’s architect, Kevin Williamson. Wes Craven also returned to helm the film and both these factors are substantial contributors to the high quality of the sequel. The meta-analysis of films, particular slashers, is taken to new heights in ‘Scream 2’ as it satirizes sequels. The film begins with a couple at a screening of the film entitled ‘Stab’ which is based on the events of the original ‘Scream’. The introduction of the 'Stab' franchise within the 'Scream' universe allows ‘Scream 2’ to not only dissect the genre but further critique itself. The 'Scream' films would continue this trend in subsequent installments.

The surviving characters of ‘Scream’ also return for ‘Scream 2’ which includes: the apogee of final girls Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), loveable doofus but actually sharp-as-a-tack Dewey Riley (David Arquette), ruthless reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), and the fan favorite cinephile Randy Meeks (Jaimie Kennedy). Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) who was shown briefly in the original also returns infusing his diabolical charm into the character. Joining them are a slew of newcomers including Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf), Derek Feldman (Jerry O’Connell), Hallie (Elise Neal), and Mickey (Timothy Oliphant ). The ensemble is superb and engaging. The filmmakers have fashioned an exciting experience in terms of how the returning characters have been affected by the events of the original as well as their various characters growth and interpersonal relationships..

Wes Craven crafted many sequences in ‘Scream 2’ that demonstrate his utter mastery of suspense. In a divergence from the original, there are several scenes where the audience is clued in on where Ghostface is located while he stalks his victim, maneuvers through the background, and all-the-while his victims are none-the-wiser. Craven's execution of these sequences creates the ultimate nail-biting dramatic tension.

‘Scream’ has a fantastic and what would have been a unique score in 1996 from composer Marco Beltrami. His score became one of the most mimicked in late ‘90s horror. ‘Scream 2’s score only improved on the original adding most notably Dewey’s iconic Theme.

‘Scream 2’ is shockingly my least favorite 'Scream' film, but that is not a reflection of the quality of it. There was a certain death in the film that scarred me upon my initial viewing and it still hurts to watch till this day. Over time I have come to appreciate the film and enjoy it a little more each time I watch it. ‘Scream 2’ against all odds demonstrates that lightning can strike twice.


Visit the Brown Deer Public Library and check out or collection of iconic horror sequels.

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