Scream 2

Scream 2 ★★★

Wes Craven's "Scream 2" packs the same kind of amusing, self-referential punch of 1996's "Scream." The sequel, however, lacks the freshness and electricity of the original. It is a watchable and sometimes fun horror film that seems to spend much of its running time simply going through the motions. For a film that comments on sequels, cash-grabs or otherwise, that may be entirely apropos.

Following the survivors of "Scream" into college, "Scream 2" finds another killer targeting the young residents of Woodsboro. While "Stab," the cinematic adaptation of the events from the first film, unspools in theaters, Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott attempts to, once again, stay alive.

The story, like that of any good sequel, ups the ante on characters, kills, and comedy. None of it, however, feels organic. Though the sequel attempts to be smart and savvy, it often feels forced and inauthentic. Characters feel shoehorned into the plot and situations lean toward the incredible. Even the film's meta-leaning sequences where the horror genre and sequels themselves are celebrated come off as too short and inconsequential to elevate the narrative.

The production is solid, and Craven again puts something together that is sleek and streamlined. Horror jolts are sharp, and the expectation for requisite thrills is fulfilled. The cast is strong, and both the film's new additions and old favorites acquit themselves well. These positive attributes are necessary to cancel out the film's tedious stretches and lapses into tonal goofiness.

"Scream 2" is a clear step down from its predecessor, but it still manages to engage. As it comments on sequels themselves, this sequel itself rates only as one of the slightly-better-than-mediocre follow-ups that is criticizes. Still, its plentiful thrills and sense of wit make it worthy of an audience's time.

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