Phil (Omar Epps) has taken his girlfriend Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith) to the opening night of a new horror movie, but she doesn't like the genre and voices her complaints to him even as he ushers her into the theatre, where the other patrons are whooping and being driven into a frenzy of excitement, dressed up as they are as the killer in the film. But that story is based on true events which happened a couple of years ago, and based on the book by reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) who witnessed the original carnage. Seems like someone's a fan as the couple are about to discover...
Before the first Scream was the megahit it was, reviving horror for a whole new generation, writer Kevin Williamson was planning the follow up, which went into production in extremely swift time, wisely as it turned out because it caught the buzz of its predecessor and was successful as well. But even as its early on film class scene acknowledges, not a lot of moviegoers are happy with sequels even if they do go to see them, and Williamson, with returning director Wes Craven, evidently opted not to outdo themselves but offer up more of the same: same murderers, same masked killer and same post modern gags.
Just as before, the feeling that the characters are all too well versed in the clichés of slasher movies which they act out was plain to see, the point being movie violence spawns nothing but more fictional violence rather than the real thing, and the Jamie Kennedy film nerd Randy was back to dispense his own brand of wisdom, this time on the rules of sequels. Yet there was more the duty of going through the motions for the good of the box office than for the good of the film this time; even if Williamson had gone to great lengths to keep his ideas fresh the fact remained there was only so much he could do that he had not done before. Luckily Craven had a way with a horror setpiece that picked up the pulse between the rather conventional business in between.
Neve Campbell was here again as well as Sydney Prescott, the much put upon heroine, here ignoring her celebrity status while she tries to get on with her theatre studies at college. The past she has put behind her is reluctant to let go, however, and when she hears of the copycat killings of the couple in the precredits sequence she begins to be concerned, not least because the reporters, including Gale, begin sniffing around yet again looking for her story. Gale has set up previous suspect and now innocent man Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) to think he'll be getting some justice by an interview on TV with Sydney, but is he really culpable this time?
Or could it be one of the others in Sydney's orbit, the identity of which grows more pressing when Buffy the Vampire Slayer is murdered next - the vampires couldn't get her, but Ghostface did. Could the killer be Sydney's nice guy boyfriend Derek (Jerry O'Connell) who gets his own cringeworthy singalong sequence? Or is that too obvious? How about... well, how about just about anyone else in the cast except Campbell, because never was there a more perfunctory reveal as we get here. No, my mistake, because Williamson may have known full well that the unmasking of the killer always seemed to have been thought up at the last moment, so perhaps it was all too appropriate. Better to appreciate those setpieces, especially the truly excellent car crash, to show off the talents of both Williamson and Craven, congratulate yourself on being in on the joke once again, and agree that as sequels went, Scream 2 was pretty good on its own merits. Music by Marco Beltrami.