Scream 2 yells for bigger, better and more elaborate kills but rarely receives them. Much discussion is made in the film regarding sequels, outlining a standard set of patterns that are common in horror classics. "Body count is always bigger". "Death scenes are much more elaborate". "Never, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead". For all the irony and meta dialogue that Williamson slaps onto his screenplay, Craven just doesn't deliver fully. Whether that be a loosely designed curveball to keep viewers on edge, or sheer lack of ingenuity, well that's up for debate. Alas, as good as this sequel is, it never truly exhumed the natural intelligence of its predecessor. Two years after the Woodsboro killings, a copycat killer using the same guise as "Ghostface" terrorises Sidney's new college.
Satirising several clichés found in film sequels is a pivotal element to Williamson's screenplay. Massive discussions over infamous sequels bettering the original, outlining the tendencies found within them and comedically teasing 'Empire Strikes Back' as a planned sequel therefore being discarded from the argument. Relatable to an absurd degree. The type of conversations I have every single day. So, once again, the dialogue was punchy, extremely meta and gives the characters plenty of personality. The cast was something else too. A young Sarah Michelle Gellar and Timothy Olyphant in the same film? It's poetic! Amusingly, I screamed twice in excitement. Playful performances with an adequate amount of returning characters, raising the suspicion level to glorious heights. Craven keeps the tone light throughout, despite being a glorified slasher, retaining the refreshing aura that made the original unique. Naturally, it's not groundbreaking the second time round, but a watchable sequel nonetheless.
There are, however, issues. Beltrami's score was obnoxiously overbearing, with a late inclusion of both Elfman and Zimmer. Various character themes drowned out the dialogue, particularly Dewey's, and relinquished any genuine investment towards them. The narrative shifts between Sidney Prescott and Gale "You Just Got Weathered" Weathers made it difficult to distinguish who the main character was and inadvertently eliminated most of the suspects from the list. Quicker than usual. The constant shifts between them, whilst balanced, threw the pacing off considerably with the second act containing zero kills. The death sequences themselves, minus the introductory scene which was excellent, were hardly memorable despite Craven trying to set up more extravagant kills. The third act and final reveal were incredibly messy (probably to do with the famous leak that happened), with seemingly most of the budget going towards that Cassandra play. Oh, and the death of a certain character did not sit well with me (and fans clearly...).
Still, even with my reservations, it's a decent sequel that could've been flattened by a lack of imagination. But Craven pulls through, only just. Scream 3 will definitely need to scream harder...