Scream 2

Scream 2 ★★★

The sequel to Wes Craven's great revival of the slasher film genre, Scream, feels rushed --nothing strange as it was made during the series' first installment's release-- and already dated, and it is for the most part of its length a barely decent rehash of the original. However, it is also an entertaining, if silly, movie in which the metalinguistics and intertextuality that shone in 1996 go further, and there's some commentary on the exploitative nature of mass media and the connections between violence in fiction and reality that manages to get across in the midst of an uninspired shallowness that Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson seem to have mistaken for some sort of neo-Brechtian irony.

As a whole, and to put it simply, Scream 2 is a sequel about the struggles any sequel supposedly goes through due to the first movie's success. To be fair, as superficial as this movie can get even when discussing other movies (as in the same hollow data-dropping manner of cinephilia perfectly exemplified in Bertolucci's The Dreamers), this problem is developed both thematically and formally, enhanced by the aforementioned postmodern motifs inherited from Scream. The opening scene, featuring Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett, results a flawed stab --pun intended-- at taking the anthological introduction with Drew Barrymore and reworking it into something else, yet it does function as a good first words on the sensationalism and hypocrisy Scream 2 will try to criticize (a bit ambiguously, though).

In the end, it doesn't help that the lack of inventiveness is blamed on the sequel theme, foremost when there's also the idea of any given sequel, that is a worthy one, doing anything in its capacity to overcome its very sequel situation and improve upon the original film. Regardless, Scream 2 is far from having the engaging quality of its predecessor but still exhibits a few welcome elements, above all regarding its self-referentiality. Also, being cold in a way, not always --not at all when the brilliant Neve Campbell is on screen-- but too much, certain murders possess a crude tragic dimension to them, such as the Sarah Michelle Gellar one, which is raw and plain brutal, almost evoking the incomparable Barrymore slaying. David Arquette reprises his role solidly, and, alongside Jamie Kennedy, he was the best support from the surviving original cast. (And David Warner's is a brief yet enjoyable presence.) On a lighter note, Courteney Cox looked fine, I think. However, there is some bad acting here, specially by Timothy Olyphant, and, even worse, Laurie Metcalf. The first one ends up being a pale shadow of the Skeet Ulrich/Matthew Lillard effective duo of insanely-portrayed psychopathy, his over-acting all over and out of the place. Metcalf's case is fairly odd: sometimes it almost is on the verge of giving something new to the audience, no matter that she is an obvious parody of Betsy Palmer's Mama Voorhees because that's precisely the point... Her failure --admittedly, less unnerving than Fiona Shaw's appearance in De Palma's The Black Dahlia-- encapsules the overall laziness of a project that at least tried, a little.

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