Netflix has a formidable library of horror staples and genre-straddling dark comedies, but in April, the streaming service is losing a delightfully snarky slasher flick that's a total time warp back to the good old days of 1997.
Scream 2 is an underappreciated classic, a glorious examination of pastiche in the horror movie genre while also serving as a foundational text in the genre in its own right. Yeah, that's right, Scream 2.
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While meant to show how cash grabby sequels are, it actually became one of the most successful horror sequels of all time. Both Scream 2 and Scream 3 are leaving Netflix this month, erasing all trace of the iconic film franchise (except the TV show, but that doesn't count.) It's the perfect time to stay inside and watch scary movies, so here's why this humble sequel is worth a rewatch.
The Scream franchise is both a love letter and a roast, but since the original became an instant genre mainstay, it's got one big blindspot: itself. Enter Scream 2, the natural successor. Scream was a high school horror movie, so Scream 2 is a college horror movie. The killer in Scream references classic horror movies... the killer in Scream 2 references Scream.
The wry metacommentary is evident from the start. The opening scene depicts two Windsor College seniors going on a date to the premiere of Stab, a fictionalized version of the first Scream film. Surrounded by fans dressed in Ghostface costumes sent by the studio, a skeptical Maureen (played by Jada Pinkett Smith when she was still Jada Pinkett) basically delivers her own CinemaSins commentary to the movie-within-a-movie.
Of course, she's murdered just moments later. This is the tone of the film in microcosm: we didn't take ourselves too seriously before, but you know the score now so we can be even sillier. Also, lots of people are still going to die.
The rest of the movie follows this trend, and while film students may argue the virtues of sequels in class with all but a wink to the audience, they never acknowledge the unique benefit horror movie sequels have: background. Viewers go in with all the premise and background necessary, so the script doesn't have to waste time justifying its own existence: it can get right to the good stuff.
Not only does Scream 2 get right to the good stuff, it does so with an absolutely stacked cast. Of course, Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox reprise their roles as Sidney Prescott and Gayle Weathers, respectively, and other college students are played by the likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jerry O'Connell and Timothy Olyphant. Laurie Metcalf even makes an appearance, and her acting proves a scene-stealer, the kind of film performance we wouldn't see from her again until Lady Bird.
According to Randy Meeks, sequels need 2 things: a higher death count, and more elaborate death scenes. Scream 2 delivers on both fronts, and the set pieces are all timers. In one scene, Sidney and her roommate have to clamber over the killer in order to escape a police car, and the finale is epic, and that's meant literally. It takes place in the college's theatre, among the set for a Greek tragedy play.
The third rule, the one Randy gets interrupted while saying, was included in a teaser trailer: "never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead." Without spoiling anything, this is good indication of how unexpected the film goes: even while following a blueprint, it still proves a heart-racing and refreshing watch.
Scream 2 leaves Netflix March 30.