Ethan C Williams’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part 8 of Hoop-tober II: Dead By Dawn
If this film had only been Jada Pinkett scoffing at white people nonsense, that would've been totally okay with me.
It's almost a given that a sequel to a wildly successful film is going to give you diminished returns when you return to that particular well, mostly narratively if not financially. But the fun little quirk about Scream 2 is that it acknowledges this multiple times and yet still manages to have a bit of fun even if everyone involved knows this is a bit of a retread.
"Final girl" from the first film Sidney Prescott has moved on to college after her bloody encounter with the first Ghostface murders and wouldn't you know it a copycat killer is now out there trying to perform a real life "sequel" to those murders, only bigger and bloodier.
Just like the first, it's practically impossible to know who the murderer is but it's certainly just as fun trying to guess. There's so many red herrings it's practically a fish market and Scream 2 continues that sort of cheeky playfulness with its audience that made the original so fun.
But unlike the original, Scream 2 can now have in-jokes from its own universe that simply add to the wink-winks and nudge-nudges. While playing a bit of homage to horror sequels in general, Scream 2 is much more focused on creating its own new brand of horror built on knowing all the little references and callbacks to the original.
It also was one of the first films pre-Columbine that decided to tackle head-on the question of violence in media. The Scream franchise, being as meta as it is, was one of the media's biggest targets, pre- and post-Columbine, as an example of how kids might take the messages of these films the wrong way. Scream 2 acknowledges the idea that the violence in slasher films might inspire copycats but it's pretty clear by the end where the filmmakers stand on the issue.
While it is a far more complicated and tricky issue than one can address within a 2-hour mainstream movie, Scream 2 does an admirable job of actually weighing both sides of the argument against it. Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson are responsible filmmakers and Scream 2 is a very mature way to respond to such accusations without sacrificing any of the integrity of the franchise.
Scream wanted to be the most hip slasher on the block, the snarky horror franchise that Generation X could quip around with their friends. Your enjoyment of the film probably hinged upon your love of the original and probably your geeky knowledge of previous slasher franchises. I can understand how that might've annoyed some horror fans back upon its original release, but it comes off as harmless fun to a viewer like me and just another neat little piece of 90s nostalgia.
Scream 2 does a fine job of addressing the issues the media held against it and even has a decent (albeit brief) discussion on the issue of race in mainstream horror.Overall a pleasant surprise and I'm looking forward to seeing how this franchise continues.