“Scream” was an absolute game-changer, but its sequel, “Scream 2”, managed to rival — even surpass in some ways — its monumental predecessor.
Released on December 12, 1997, in the US, Wes Craven’s Scream 2 is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. It’s an influential film that challenged how a sequel could succeed its predecessor in the height of 1990s horror blockbusters.
Made on a budget of twenty-four million with a star-studded cast, Scream 2 helped launch one of the most successful horror franchises of all time, grossing close to two million at the box office and proving the meteoric success of Scream was far more than a fluke.
A true extension of the genre-redefining first film, writer Kevin Williamson carefully interweaves the Woodsboro origins into a new setting while upping the stakes and offering more thrills and chills. Scream 2 takes viewers on a wild ride with heart-pounding pacing, pitch-perfect humor, and another engrossing ‘whodunnit’ mystery.
The popular surviving characters from the first film return, including fan-favorite genre expert Randy Meeks, who once again reminds us that “Everyone’s a suspect!”
With Scream 2, we’re still very much invested in Sidney (Neve Campbell). We know her. We root for her. Not every series has that comforting familiarity as we have in Sidney Prescott.
As the mystery unravels and potential suspects pile up, here’s a look at some highlights of this wildly successful and effective sequel.
The Stab Premiere
At the Rialto theater, lovers Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Phil (Omar Epps) debate their choice of film at a free premiere of the very “white” Stab release, a clever movie within the movie. When Phil is murdered in the bathroom, the killer returns to his seat in Ghostface movie swag, and Maureen quickly discovers the imposter. Brutally stabbed, she escapes towards the big screen for help. Uneasy from the start, Maureen’s suspicions of endangerment drive that intensity, making the opening scene of Scream 2 a tour de force.
We then reconnect with our return final girl, Sidney. Now a Windsor college student, she battles daily prank calls and watches Cotton Weary’s (Liev Schreiber) TV interview, where he discusses his newfound freedom. Sidney’s roommate Hallie (Elise Neal) begs her to attend a sorority party that night before Sid heads to class.
On campus, a lively discussion on violence in the cinema as it relates to the horrific Rialto murders takes place in a classroom, where Randy debates the movie-obsessed Mickey (Timothy Olyphant).
Sidney and Randy connect after class to discuss the murders before Sidney’s attentive boyfriend, Derek (Jerry O’Connell), interrupts. Randy still can’t get the girl.
Suspects: An unknown copycat(s), someone influenced by “violence in cinema” or wanting a sequel in the making. Dewey (David Arquette) tells Sidney, “You probably already know them.”
The Sorority Mixer
Holding down the Omega Bega Zeta house while her fellow sorority sisters party, “sober sister” Cici (Sarah Michelle Gellar) receives a phone call she believes to be a prank from her ex. Encountering the Ghostface in an action-packed fight, the resilient Cici dies.
Meanwhile, the neighboring sorority party is cut short by the arrival of cop cars at the Zeta house. As everyone leaves, Sidney grabs her jacket and answers the all-knowing phone call from Ghostface. She faces off against a knife-wielding killer once again. Derek comes to her rescue and gets his arm sliced in the process.
Suspects: Authorities interrogate Derek on how Ghostface escaped. Dewey is judged for arriving too late to the scene. Mickey plants a moment of self-doubt for Sidney: “Why would anyone go back into that house?”
The Police Station
Gale (Courtney Cox), Dewey, and Chief Hartley (Lewis Arquette) piece together the connection of student murders to the victims of Woodsboro. It looks like the killer is choosing his victims based on the similarity of their names to the original Woodsboro murders.
Suspects: Reporter Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf) thinks the killer is from Woodsboro. Sidney’s father is out of the country, and the sudden arrival of Dewey proves suspicious to her.
The Sweetest Serenade
Derek leaps up onto the cafeteria tables and serenades a heartwarming rendition of The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” to Sidney in front of the student body. He lovingly gives her his forbidden fraternity necklace.
Suspects: Mickey: “Have they checked out Randy?” (comparing him to Jeffrey Dahmer).
Dewey and Randy hash out all the sequel motives over cappuccinos from Baskin Robbins. We’re warned to expect a higher body count and more elaborate deaths. The pair examines all the possible suspects.
Suspects: Derek, Mickey (“the freaky Tarantino student”), unsuspecting Hallie, and opportunistic Gale; Dewey and Randy can’t even rule out each other.
Sidney’s drama teacher, Gus (David Warner), urges her not to withdraw from the lead role of heroine Cassandra as “the battle for the soul is fought in the Forum of art.” Reminded that she is a fighter, Sidney channels triumphantly through dress rehearsal until she spots Ghostface among the choreography of supporting masked actors. Terrorized, rehearsal is halted.
Suspects: A cast member? Or was Sidney just triggered?
The Campus Call
Gale, Randy, and Dewey regroup for another look at possible motives for the killer. Joel steers clear of the conversation. Randy receives the gut-wrenching call from Ghostface while Gale and Dewey search the campus for anyone on their phones. Incredibly brave and hurling insults at Ghostface in the face of danger, Randy is eventually pulled into the news van and stabbed to death.
Suspects: Anyone talking on their phone on Campus. Dewey comments how Joel seems “a little shaky.” Any surviving Woodsboro victims.
The Final Showdown
Sidney receives a threatening instant message on the computer. While detectives search student computers, Cotton tries to get Sid to do a Diane Sawyer interview with him. glitters for him, a promised interview with Diane Sawyer.
Gale and Dewey review the camera tapes for any overlooked clues in the AV lecture room. Their romantic chemistry is cut short when new footage filming them live appears on the other TV. An intense game of cat and mouse in the sound booth ensues. Ghostface “murders” Dewey, and Gale is cornered.
As the detectives drive Sidney and Hallie off campus, the fraternity brothers kidnap Derek and hold a punishment beer party on the theater stage.
Ghostface rampages onto the undercover police car, killing both detectives while Sidney and Hallie are locked in. The only escape is through the driver’s side. This scene delivers magnificent tension as the two are forced to slither over the incapacitated killer. Sidney wants to turn around and unmask the killer. But as they debate whether to run away or turn back, a second Ghostface appears behind Hallie and kills her.
Gail runs into Cotton and his bloodied hands in the hallway. Cottons says he found Dewey and swears he tried to help. Convinced Cotton is Ghostface, Gail bolts out of the building.
Suspect: The return of an old foe; Cotton’s bloodied hands, emotional outburst, and identical Ghostface black shoes now make him the prime suspect.
The Big Reveal
Hearing the music at the campus theater, Sidney calls out for Gus, and the stage set closes in on her with someone operating from the lighting booth. Tied up to the star, Derek is lowered down. Mickey takes off the mask and insists Derek is a co-collaborator of the carnage. As Derek pleads with Sidney to untie him, her déjà vu moment brings hesitation, and Mickey kills him.
In all his humorous psychopathic babble, Mickey is “going to blame the movies” for his crimes and introduces the mystery guest. Gale walks onto the stage, followed at gunpoint by Debbie.
The Killers: Not surprising, always “near” and filming, it’s wild-eyed Mickey behind the mask. His accomplice, and the actual mastermind behind the murders, is Debbie — aka Billy’s grieving mother. It’s a stupendous, clever, and unexpected twist.