Scream 2

Scream 2 ★★★½

"Sequels are always worse" is a common through-line in Wes Craven's follow-up to his smash meta-hit Scream, so one would think the architect's layered commentary would extend to his own sequel demonstrating massive inferiority. Well, if you thought my pretty-good-at-best appraisal of Scream was a hot enough take, prepare for some thermonuclear shit, because I'm hesitant to say that Scream 2 is even remotely below its predecessor—in fact, I'm hesitant enough not to say that it's an outright improvement.

People tend to overstate just how sharp and airtight Scream really was, so to say that the immediate sequel has its own hangups in regards to both its commentary and its execution of tropes wouldn't necessarily be considered much of a detriment in the grand scheme of things. That said, what Scream 2 manages to do—or at least, feels like it does—is what the original is often hailed for doing: it builds upon its influences. While Scream honestly didn't feel like it did all that much to improve upon the established formulas of its forebears (the Golden Age of slashers), Scream 2 progresses above its own forebear (the original film) to expand upon its themes. How does one move on from trauma when the fear of danger is always right around the corner, and if the answer is to become a complete shut-in from the world, is it really worth it?

Of course, Scream 2 isn't perfect, especially in its crop of new characters who serve as little more than herrings (red or not?) towards the potential identity of the new killer. (And on that note, part of the reveal is largely flat and unsatisfying, until it leads into a final set-piece undeniably on par with that of the original.) Still, the focus of skepticism towards all faces, new and old, keeps the adrenaline pumping and even leads to a powerful callback to the origins of a certain variety of Sidney's trust issues when that inevitable unmasking finally comes.

Surely, Scream 2 will not have—or I should say, clearly has not had—the same kind of impact as the film that came before it, be it culturally, academically... hell, even financially. However, just as Scream was a fun, competent slasher, Wes Craven's answer to sequel-mania does what a sequel should do; it actually puts forth the effort to not just be more of what came before, but more and better! And besides, if I were stuck in a moviegoing experience like that one, I'd be liable to react in exactly the same way...

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