Terror Tuesday: Minute By Minute #3 - SCREAM 2

Brian gets obsessive compulsive about the best sequel in the SCREAM franchise.

Needless to say I loved the movie, and thus the anticipation for Scream 2, for me, was probably like what Star Wars fans were feeling for Phantom Menace.  Except I didn’t walk away disappointed.  No Jar-Jars or “Yippee!” here.  But it’s been a while (October 2007, and I watched it while writing reviews for other movies), so let’s give it the ol’ Minute by Minute treatment and see how I feel about it now, after mostly enjoying Scream 4 but feeling that they were still missing that je ne sais quoi that made Scream 2 such an enjoyable and worthy followup (in my eyes anyway).

01:00 Omar Epps explains the virtues of slasher movies over Sandra Bullock movies.  Gotta side with him - this was 1997, the year of Speed 2: Cruise Control.

02:00 A credit for Gale Weathers, as Stab is based on her book.  It’s actually the first credit that appears for Stab, which probably pleased all the writers in the audience.

03:00 Jada Pinkett annoyed that Heather Graham is getting naked.

04:00 Heather Graham in the Stab footage.  Always wondered – how did they get so many details right about the buildup to her murder?  Weren’t any witnesses.

05:00 Jada overhears that Stab is based on a true story. I like how the movie seems to be just sort of the background material for a party; there are people just wandering around the lobby, folks going in and out constantly… fucking pay attention to the movie!

06:00 Jada watching Omar go off to die.

07:00 Omar looking for a place to pee.

08:00 We have our first kill!

09:00 Jada clutching Ghostface.  I wish they did a Foul Play here and had her dying boyfriend sitting next to her, but this is fun too.

10:00 Everyone cheering for Jada’s death.  By making her so annoying, I am still unsure if the audience actually understands that she is dying for real or not.

11:00 Death #2!  Our guest stars are both dead and in less time than the original.  Efficiency!

12:00 Sid taking a phone call from a prankster.

13:00 Cotton (Liev Schreiber) on a talk show hosted by Kevin Williamson.  One of the things I dug about S2 was that it turned Cotton into a full-fledged character.  And in hindsight, he’s really the only one of the characters who was multiple movies that actually grew over the course of his appearances.  In S4 everyone’s the same as they were in S1, more or less.  But Cotton went from a thug-looking prisoner to a fame-seeking loser to a douchey TV personality.  Good on him!

14:00 Closeup of the Stab poster on TV.

15:00 Pacey!

16:00 Mickey (Tim Olyphant) offering T2 as a superior sequel.  I agree with him.  Also, this scene is funnier now, as Olyphant is the one defending sequels and ten years later he’d be in a Die Hard sequel that was so shitty I actually almost cried.

17:00 Jamie Kennedy doing his 5th voice in under 120 seconds.  I don’t even remember what the hell he was referencing here. Trainspotting?  Also, I like that he literally followed Sid across the country to go to school with her and still couldn’t close the deal.

18:00 Randy making faces as Derek (Jerry O’Connell) comforts Sid.

19:00 Gale (Courtney Cox-not-yet-Arquette) sports her new hairdo and talks about the film breaking box office records, nearly at the end of the first reel of the movie that would break box office records (at the time).  Indeed, as this was before the days of online movie ticket buying (actually I don’t even think I had a personal computer at this time), I recall driving to the theater directly after school in order to buy tickets for the 8pm showing in fear that it would sell out (and it did!).  Then I drove back home, did homework, then drove around picking up my friends and drove back to the theater to wait in line. Nowadays I buy my ticket online AND pick my seat, so I don’t “have” to get to the theater with more than maybe 5 minutes to spare.  I swear, technology has ruined a big chunk of the movie-going experience.

20:00 Gale being annoyed by the kill- uh, Billy’s mo- uh, “Debbie Salt”.

21:00 Courtney Cox talking to her future father-in-law.

22:00 The sorority sisters approaching Sid and Hallie.  Yikes, Portia De Rossi looks AWFUL in this movie.

23:00 The sorority sisters walking off.

24:00 Sid talking to Dewey.  We just heard the borrowed (and uncredited!) Broken Arrow music from Hans Zimmer, which makes me laugh every time.

25:00 Still talking.  Not for nothing but by this time in the first movie we already had another big scare scene.

26:00 Gale and Sid meet up!

27:00 Gale watching Sid walk off after she slapped her.

28:00 Dewey telling off Gale as he limps and does that weird thing with his hand.  I like that in Scream 3 and 4, despite (spoiler!) an even more savage attack in this film, he has no visible handicap.  Maybe the stabs to the back he got here sort of canceled out the injuries he got in S1? Also, if you watch Arquette throughout the film, he’s constantly looking off to the sides – can’t tell if it’s Arquette just being weird or Dewey trying to see if he’s being watched by the killer.  Probably the former.

29:00 Gale smiling at Dewey.  Aww, these two should get back together.  And then break up again.  And then get married.  And then fight and more or less break up.  And no, I’m not sure if I’m talking about the characters or the actors anymore.

30:00 Sid and Hallie walk around the sorority party, set to the soothing sounds of a Dave Matthews B-side.

31:00 Sarah Michelle Gellar takes a phone call from Ghostface.

32:00 Gellar, still talking.

33:00 Gellar. Phone.  I like this sequence but Wes clearly didn’t have Minute By Minute in mind when he directed it.

34:00 One of Gellar’s sorority sisters, played by Marisol “Hottest Audrey Griswold” Nichols.  But at least this sequel isn’t a complete affront to the original like Vegas Vacation was.

35:00 Tracking shot of Gellar walking around the house.  This is actually a really great stalk/suspense scene, even more impressive when you consider the fact that you know she’s a goner.  I nearly hated S3 but enjoyed (but did not love) S4, but one thing I can say about both films is that they lacked any really great stalking setpieces like this.

36:00 Gellar looking at a phone.

37:00 Wheeee!

38:00 Sid, looking annoyed but pretty.  I miss the days when Neve was actually interested in playing this character; she pretty much sleptwalk through her limited time in S3, and S4 didn’t give her anything to do until the final 10 minutes.

39:00 Everyone running over to see what’s going on at the other house.

40:00 Gale making a very hurt face after Dewey insults her.

41:00 Sid looking at a ringing phone.  Think she’ll answer it?

42:00 Sid running from Ghostface.  Part of the fun of these movies on a second view is trying to figure out which character was Ghostface during specific scenes.  I peg this one as Mrs. Loomis, because Mickey was with the others heading to the commotion at the sorority house.

43:00 Dewey realizes Ghostface escaped.  One fairly clever aspect of this script is that we quickly establish that Derek *can’t* be Ghostface because we see him trying to get in the house while Sid is being chased… but then they keep his attack off-screen (and keep in mind, it was her boyfriend last time too).  So depending on your sensibilities, you can see this scene either as proof that he’s NOT the killer or a strong bit of evidence to support that he IS.  Very cool, and the sort of thing that S3 lacked by having only one killer (I’d have to re-watch S4 to see how they did with this, but it didn’t seem successful).

44:00 Mickey sitting down to talk to Sid.  Remember when the killers in Scream movies actually had a real relationship with Sid prior to revealing that they were the killer?  That was cool.

45:00 Derek talking to cops.

46:00 Sheriff Arquette writing names on a chalkboard.  I truly loathe this minor subplot of the movie, in which we learn that the three victims thus far had the same names as the first three victims in the actual Woodsboro murders.  So, what, Mickey somehow planned for a couple with the same names as Sid’s mom and Casey’s boyfriend to not only be at the theater, but also that the male would go to the bathroom where he was waiting?  And then they had to find a Casey that would be by herself?  Jesus Christ, Williamson, even by slasher standards this is fucking stupid.  Luckily they drop this inane scenario as soon as they bring it up, because the next victim would have to have been named Principal Himbry.

47:00 Sid and Derek talking.

48:00 More talking.  On the DVD, there’s actually a TV spot for the film that basically makes the movie look like some sort of romantic thriller, using mainly just shots from scenes like this.  It’s kind of amusing.

49:00 Gale walking away from another hurtful conversation with Dewey.

50:00 Oh no, the cafeteria scene!  Run!

51:00 Good God. Literally the second it starts.

52:00 Yup.  This is the “Animal Crackers” of Scream 2.  Although, if I may play devil’s advocate for a second, as grating as this scene is, it at least establishes the characters as actual friends, with Mickey egging on his buddy and Hallie clapping along and such, which is in line with the stuff in the original (fountain scene, Stu and Randy at the video store, etc).  I guess in S3 they were mainly all just actors who didn’t know/care about each other, so that’s that, but S4 definitely lacked a strong camaraderie amongst the new group, due to a lack of scenes like this.

53:00 Mickey inquiring about what the hell is going on with Derek’s frat necklace (which Sid still wore in S3, in a rare case of that movie paying attention to a goddamn thing).

54:00 Nancy O’Dell talking about Stab.

55:00 Randy explaining the rules of sequels.

56:00 Randy uses Mrs. Voorhees as an example of a good surprise.  Clever bit of foreshadowing, really.

57:00 Dewey ponders what Randy told him.

58:00 Joel the cameraman being convinced to stick around.  Not sure if he was supposed to be a potential suspect, but I would have believed Sid’s mom’s zombie corpse as the killer before him.

59:00 David Warner!  I saw this movie and then Titanic the week after, which is twice the amount of Warner I am accustomed to in a single month.

1:00:00 Sid’s school play.  Budget: 7 million.

1:01:00 Warner watching the play, probably wondering “Why am I or this sequence in the middle of a slasher movie?”

1:02:00 Sid freaking out as she sees Ghostface, but it’s all in her head.

1:03:00 Rope!

1:04:00 Derek walking off after being dumped for the 2nd time in 15 minutes.

1:05:00 Joel conveniently taking off before a phone call occurs.  But, you know, no.

1:06:00 Randy talking to the killer.  Were his ears this pointy in the first movie?

1:07:00 Gale looking around for the killer.

1:08:00 Possibly the best laugh in the movie, Dewey tackling some poor bastard on a cell phone, thinking he’s the killer.  One cool thing about Scream is that it’s the rare horror film in which the plot actually REQUIRES folks to have cell service, but they came along at a time when cells weren’t as ubiquitous.  I think S4 really botched using new technologies (Twitter especially) for scares… it was all the same ol’ “Who’s this?” phone call scenes.

1:09:00 The most hated scene in all of slasher history… at least among the slasher geeks in the audience like me.  RIP, Randy Meeks.

1:10:00 Joel passing out from the sight of the murder that they tried really really hard to make us think he may have committed.

1:11:00 One of the cops “protecting” Sidney by leading her to a doorway and then taking off.

1:12:00 Cotton trying to convince Sid to do Diane Sawyer.

1:13:00 Sid getting scared by Cotton.

1:14:00 Sheriff Arquette looking through a window.

1:15:00 Cotton telling off the cops.

1:16:00 Sid and Hallie watch Cotton walk off.  This scene seems to drag, as do a few others in the movie - I think it’s probably due to the rushed schedule.  The movie wasn’t even written until after the first was a big success (plus they had to do a big rewrite after the script leaked anyway), and yet it was in theaters one year to the day after the first one was released.  Guessing they didn’t have the most luxurious post schedule, or else I think scenes like this may have been trimmed some.

1:17:00 Cotton talking to reporters.

1:18:00 Gale reacting to Joel quitting.  In the Still Screaming documentary, the actor, Duane Martin, explains how he went up to Wes and told him that he really felt his character would just leave instead of sticking around like these other morons.  So Wes arranged for that taxi you see in the background, and that was that.  It’s a pretty funny story in the doc, which will probably be released on DVD around the same time S4 is.

1:19:00 Gale smiling at Dewey, as I smile at the sounds of the Broken Arrow music making another appearance.  Seriously, whatever you may think of the movie, you have to admit that Hans Zimmer’s score is as close to perfect an action movie score as we may ever get.

1:20:00 Gale and Dewey sneaking around the film lab looking for a VCR.  At the time this was just ludicrous, because in 1997 most students would have a VCR in their room and they could have just asked Sidney (or gone into Randy’s room - it’s now empty!).  But now, in 2011?  Yeah, the film lab is probably the only place you could find a VCR on a college campus.

1:21:00 Joel’s footage.  Also, the Broken Arrow music is STILL playing.  Guessing it’s another one of those “Hey we don’t have time” things, except in this case it’s welcome.  Marco Beltrami isn’t a terrible composer, but his stuff doesn’t really leave a lasting memory, either - quick, whistle the Scream theme!  I bet you either drew a blank or did a few bars of “Red Right Hand”.

1:22:00 Hand on a boob gag!  Classic Arquette.

1:23:00 Gale running from Ghostface. This is a really great sequence, in fact I think it’s actually better than any of the ones in the original.  With Randy dead, there’s actually a really strong chance that Gale and/or Dewey could buy it, making this stuff incredibly tense.  But really, they only had this chance in this particular movie; once they all survived this one and moved on to S3, it became clear that someone (Wes? Kevin? Bob Weinstein?) wasn’t willing to let these three actually die.  Hell they don’t even bother PRETENDING to kill Dewey anymore.

1:24:00 Gale hiding from Ghostface.

1:25:00 Dewey limping around looking for Gale.

1:26:00 Gale and Ghostface, facing off.

1:27:00 Hallie arriving.  I have no memory of this scene at all for some reason.

1:28:00 More annoying nonsense with the sorority sisters.

1:29:00 A shot of Andrews and Richards (the cops) as they drive Sid and Hallie off to a safehouse (or something?  Blanking again).  Note - their names are derived from Brian Andrews and Kyle Richards, the child actors from the original Halloween, a reference that I missed the first couple times I watched the movie.  Shameful.

1:30:00 Sid and Hallie screaming in the back of the out of control car.

1:31:00 Hallie trying to find a way out of the car.

1:32:00 Sid crawling past an unconscious Ghostface.  Another great little nail-biter scene (with a decent excuse for the obvious question - Why doesn’t she take off the mask?).

1:33:00 Hallie getting out of the car.  I wish they milked this bit a little more, Hallie (potential victim) seems to get out of the car a lot quicker than Sid (not potentially a victim in the slightest).

1:34:00 RIP Hallie.

1:35:00 A shot of some sound equipment.

1:36:00 Sid in the spotlight!

1:37:00 Sid trying to free Derek, who the killer somehow managed to take from the frat party and bring to the theater, Greek backdrop and all.  The logic doesn’t quite hold up throughout this sequence in terms of who was doing what and where, but originally there were THREE killers, so I guess there’s some leftover plotting from that (assuming they bothered putting as much thought into it as I am, anyway).

1:38:00 Derek denying a now-unmasked Mickey’s claim that they were partners.

1:39:00 Mickey starting his “This is why I’m the killer” speech.  I think they did a good job of keeping Mickey around as a fully fledged character/friend (and not too suspicious) in the first half of the movie, but then sort of forgot about him after the cafeteria scene.  Much more successful than Roman in S3, who simply had no presence whatsoever.

1:40:00 A closeup on the Greek necklace.

1:41:00 Mickey screaming about something.

1:42:00 A now-outed Mrs. Loomis pointing a gun.  Back to what I was saying about Mrs. Voorhees earlier, in the original Friday the 13th, it was always a bit of a cheat, because Pamela was someone we had never met in the movie until about 9 seconds before she was revealed to be the killer.  So it was clever of Williamson to borrow the identity and motive (mother seeking revenge for the death of her son), but work the character into the movie in a way that kept it from being a cheat (and never letting her share a scene with someone who would recognize her, i.e. Sid).

1:43:00 Sid reacting to Mrs. Loomis.

1:44:00 Mrs. Loomis admitting that she was the one who killed Randy.  So Mickey got Hallie, the cops, and Cici; Mrs. Loomis got Randy and Dewey and was the one chasing Sid around at the frat house. Only one in the movie I’m not sure on is the opening; I assume it was Mickey but it’s possible that it was both of them, considering all the Ghostfaces running around.

1:45:00 An Hitchock(or Argento) ish shot of an eyeball looking through a hole.  Also, I’d like to point out that it’s only been 7 minutes since the first killer was revealed, and in that time we’ve had two killers unmasked and explain their motives, plus the possible death of one hero (Gale) and the actual death of one (Derek), plus the death of one killer (Mickey).  Folks have been saying lately how long and draggy the finale is with the killers never shutting up - I think it’s a perfectly good pace for this kind of thing.

1:46:00 A light swinging down toward Mrs. Loomis.

1:47:00 Sid and Mrs. Loomis fighting.

1:48:00 Cotton pointing a gun.

1:49:00 Sid with a knife to her throat.

1:50:00 Sid checking if Mrs. Loomis is really dead.

1:51:00 Sid looking down at Mrs. Loomis’ corpse (I guess she doesn’t trust her own body-checking skills).

1:52:00 Dewey lives!  I admit, I actually teared up (happy tears) the first time I saw this.  The Broken Arrow music slowly coming in, Gale’s reaction, the sheer silliness of it… it’s a great moment.

1:53:00 Sid doing Cotton a solid.

1:54:00 Sid walking off, trying to escape the sounds of a particularly syrupy Collective Soul number.

1:55:00 Peter Deming’s cinematography credit, which is oddly the first one that appears over black instead of film footage.

1:56:00 Liev Schreiber’s credit.  I love the picture credits on these movies.  Especially helpful for 3 and 4 since there were so many borderline anonymous characters.

1:57:00 Some cast credits.  Nothing of note.

1:58:00 Assistants and location manager credits.

1:59:00 Sound and legal credits.  Riveting!

2:00:00 Of course this movie has to go past the 2 hr mark when this was already the longest Minute by Minute article at the ONE hour mark.  Anyway, this is the Dimension logo.

So I’m still baffled why there’s a sudden backlash against this one, with a lot of folks saying that they don’t want to see S4 because all the other sequels sucked, or that S4 is the only good sequel if they did see it.  I think this is an above average sequel, made more impressive by its rushed schedule and higher expectations.  Sure, it’s got some issues (occasionally sluggish pace, annoying supporting characters that neither die or qualify as red herrings), but you’re talking about a sequel to one of the most clever and certainly one of the most well-regarded slasher movies of all time - it could have easily been a total disaster.  Look at Halloween II - it’s a decent slasher movie, sure, but it greatly pales in comparison to the original and despite having the same writers, feels more like a ripoff than a true followup at times.  And compared to the other slasher sequels of this era such as I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, it’s a night and day difference in quality.  And as time goes by and we get more sequels, it just impresses me even more; they made a better movie with only a few months to do it than they were able to with over two years for S3, and ELEVEN years for S4.  Plus it has the actual Broken Arrow score, not Beltrami’s pitiful attempts at a sound-alike version.  A win in nearly every department, in my opinion.

Scream 2 is better than 90% of the 240+ slashers Brian has reviewed at Horror Movie A Day.