Scream 2: Back In Black
Article by Anthony Cleveland
I had better memories of Scream 2 than I did with the original. I remember liking the sequel discussion set in the classroom and the first two kills in the movie theater. I thought nostalgia would be enough to carry me through this slasher film, instead I found more of the same faults as I did with the previous film; lots of dead end subplots, misdirection, and unnecessary red herrings.
Let’s start with the opening scene, which takes place at an early screening of the movie Stab, a film about the previous film's murders. The premiere is treated like a midnight screening of William Castle’s Star Wars. Fans dress up in Ghostface costumes with glow in the dark knives, while the staff lights up a black light in the theater for the film’s Stab-o-Vision (very Castle-esque) and Ghostface kites stream through the theater.
Fun. But let's not forget these people are here to see a film based off two ‘real life’ serial killers. Picture people getting dressed up in clown paint and brandishing 13 inch glow in the dark dildos for an early screening of "Pogo: the John Wayne Gacy Story."
This is also a scene where the filmmakers backtrack to address the black demographic that it left out in the previous film. So, they make sure to make up for the mistake in the sequel, just like Empire Strikes Back and Lord of the Rings did...oh, wait.
We meet a black couple that discuss how these type of films are all the same. The girlfriend talks over the film telling what the main characters should do on screen. It beats you over the head with what it’s trying to do and doesn't return to poke at the black character’s role in horror films after this scene.
It feels like a one off and works less when you think about how this couple was killed. The boyfriend dies in the bathroom, and the killer somehow knows who his girlfriend is and where to find her in a dark, filled to capacity movie theater. He even sits right next to her wearing a Ghostface mask (the boyfriend jump scared her early wearing it, which means the killer would have to had witnessed that), then stabs her. She walks through the theater bleeding out but everyone sees it as a part of the William Castle-esque screening. She makes her way to the stage and screams out to the crowd and collapses.
Of course, this film was made before anyone had been murdered in a movie theater, but post Aurora Theater Shooting it doesn’t sit well. Even with the masks worn in the theater, thats no longer allowed in most multiplexes. For example, no Darth Vader masks at Star Wars screenings. Kind of like the scene in Die Hard where McClane has his pistol on a plane.
After the first killing we jump right back into the Scream giallo formula of ‘guess who the masked killer is!?’
A welcomed addition was the falsely accused murder who was discussed about but never appeared in the film. The main character’s testimony sent him to jail for the murder of her mother, but he was released after the real killers said they killed her mom in the last film...because that's how the law really works.
I like his character because he’s looking for peace (we're led to believe it’s murder). He wants to come face to face with the main character to discuss his wrongful incarceration. It's actually a well crafted misdirection, and he ultimately saves the day.
Let’s jump back to the forced inclusion of black characters. This franchise’s goal is to reaffirm the slasher genre, but that doesn’t mean it has to commit to the same race roles that most horror films succumb to. Here all the black characters are either side kicks or background characters. They all have bull’s eyes on their back. We know it's not a matter of if they’ll get stabbed, its when.
I found myself intensely bored with this film with only a few sequences of tension to peak my interest. I tried to dig in and give it a chance, but it was more of the same from the original.
I think the slasher genre works better when we have an idea of who the killer is, that way we can focus on where he or she will strike next and how to stop him. There’s more open runtime to explore rather than just “who done it” for 90 minutes.
What do you think? Does Scream 2 work for you? Did it ever? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!