Scream 2

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By now, almost every horror fan knows that Scream 2 is the newest part of a trilogy, so certain pretensions can go flying in reviewing this installment. Also because director Wes Craven rocks the suspense thriller here for every kick it's worth and then some.

Craven and his screenwriter Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer) are boldly determined to disprove the truism that "sequels suck" and go about beating their original work with sledgehammer force: long on vicious murders, short on story development.

Some students at Windsor College launch into a discussion of movie sequels upon the opening of the movie Stab, based on the best-selling book by tabloid reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), which is crassly based on the killings from the original Scream. Yep, Williamson is back with an even more hip and self-reflective script that excels at reworking the conventions of a genre that many consider quite dead.

He deftly accomplishes this despite leaning heavily on Scream's original story points for support (Hey, this is horror serial land! Who needs originality?). And when Neve Campbell's heroine Sidney Prescott says, "It's starting again," all the survivors of the first film converge around Sidney for some good, predictable fun.

We have mega-bitch reporter Weathers, police deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette), suburban geek Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) and Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), the man wrongly convicted of murder in the original. Still, Williamson works the thin field of terror like a master sculptor -- forming an established line here, giving it a spin there, all the while keeping us guessing who the deviant is this time around.

Incredibly, Wes Craven goes even further (laughably so) than ever before in his career in portraying the monster among us. He and Williamson must have communicated at length about exactly how to deconstruct the motif that earned them $100 million in grosses with their first tale of the masked killer. Scream 2's climax is a howler, a compendium of dead irony and hot action that explosively climaxes an ambitious, super-successful, meta-horror film, as it should.

"Sequels suck," Williamson muses through one of his characters. Very true. But not in this case: Scream 2 rocks hard. Don't forget to take a friend.

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