Wes Craven: The Scream years part 3 – Scream 2 (1997)
The original Scream released one year prior would prove to be a financial success, capturing $85 million at the Box Office, and prove to be a critical success for Wes Craven and Dimension Films so that it was inevitable that a follow up would be in the making.
Part of its lure in attaining Craven back into the director’s chair would be the offer of a three picture deal. Two of the pictures would be the proposed sequel and a possible third film of the Scream franchise (dependent on success, of course), but for Craven it would be the the movie sandwiched between the two slasher films, and a step away from the genre that was the dangling carrot. That film would turn out to be Music From The Heart, starring Meryl Streep.
Writer Kevin Williamson would also be enticed back into the fold for his penmanship with a lucrative seven figure deal, along with returning actors Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, and Liev Schrieber in their respective roles. The former trio in this group would be given some decent chances to flesh out their characters with a strong continuous arc that would serve well throughout the entire franchise.
Supposedly the actors would only find out who the killer/s would be in the final two weeks of filming when they were provided the last 20 pages of the script.
Despite being so closely guarded though, the production team would have to suffer under the wake of the internet when the first 40 pages of the script were leaked online, albeit just the first draft. This would tighten security on set, and raise both intrigue and the profile of the movie ahead of its release.
Part of the sequels’ appeal would be the meta-infused dialogue that was so prominent in its predecessor, none more so than the killer opening scene; set in a cinema screening and introduction to the film with a film moment called Stab, where we witness Heather Graham taking on the Drew Barrymore role from Scream. The audience are placed in the shoes of a Black American couple played by Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett. They are quick to point out the foils of ‘White Americans’ and their actions whilst being pursued by Ghostface, only to be subject to a horror trope of their own, where the non-white person rarely survives the movie, in this case they only last for the pre-credit sequence. Pinketts role is particularly harrowing as she is stabbed in front of a full auditorium, many of whom wear the infamous ghostface mask, hiding her killer in plain sight, and with it, the notion that…
Everybody’s a suspect.
Forever banked in my memory though was the demise of the person who quoted that line, Randy Meeks. He was the horror film guru, and some of the fans favourite character, so his death was received with mixed opinions. What it did set out though, was a recurring theme for the franchise. That no one was safe, and just because you might know the rules, doesn’t mean that it would save you from meeting your maker by the film’s conclusion.
The other cool component was in giving Liev Schriieber a beefed up part as the wrongfully accused Cotton Weary from the original movie. Schrieber is a phenomenal actor and he shines here as a character wishing for his own 15 minutes of fame, stopping at nothing and in doing so, throwing him once more into the limelight as a potential suspect. Let’s not forget Jerry O’Connell too who plays Sidney Prescott’s love interest and also falls prey to suspect territory thanks to Sidney’s last boyfriend/killer scenario, Billy. Trust will always be an issue for our heroine.
If there is a let down here, it’s in the climax and ultimate reveal that proves to be something of a Scooby Doo moment and a half-baked attempt at revenge. This could also be a ramification for the fast turn around in getting this from page to screen.
Despite this, Scream 2 would bank over $172 million at the box office, more than double than the first film, and with it open the doors further to at the time a third and final instalment in the trilogy.
- Saul Muerte