A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, while the carnage isn't as extreme as it was in the first SCREAM, bloodshed and stabbings are still abundant. So is foul language, and a portrayal of a college campus environment as a place where nobody ever seems to be caught studying, just partying and pledging fraternities and sororities.
What's the story?
SCREAM 2 starts with the stabbing deaths of a couple (Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett-Smith) in a theater by an assailant wearing the same black robe and mask from the first movie. Meanwhile, Scream survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is in college. This new spate of murders -- and further threatening phone calls from the unknown killer -- bring massive media attention to the university, including a return visit from sensationalist reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), Woodsboro deputy Dewey (David Arquette), and even the twitchy, `innocent' man (Liev Schreiber) that Sidney mistakenly accused of killing her mother years before. Randy (Jamie Kennedy), now a film student, compares what's going on to the time-worn clichés in the slasher movies that he's watched.
Is it any good?
Scream 2 mainly works on the level of a fiendish, darkly humorous murder mystery. Given that the sequel to the blockbuster shocker Scream was cranked out rapidly (by the same filmmaking team of director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson), premiering in theaters a year after the hugely profitable original, the quality is actually pretty good. Once again, it's a sharp `whodunit' swathed in the clichés of a Hollywood slasher-horror film, with characters who are amusingly aware of how these things normally play out. In this feature the clever banter is broadened to include the alleged racism when black characters are the first to die (you might remember Omar and Jada) and the effects of violence in cinema and TV spilling into real-life mayhem (you might remember Get Rich or Die Tryin'). But those dialogues rarely go deep into the topic or take any definite moral position.
Maybe because the casualties are no longer underaged, or the slashing isn't quite so savage, or maybe even because there's a growing affection between squabbling Gale and Dewey (actors Arquette and Cox became a real-life married couple), the results don't feel quite as grisly. Still, SCREAM 2 is a solid `R' for content, and therefore is not recommended for kids, tweens, and younger teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the sneaky way the script talks up the effects of violence in the media upon society (even the killer's secret game plan involves the controversy), but indulges in the same violence. Is SCREAM 2 making a serious point about the negative effects of screen terror, or just pretending to while it becomes a thrill-ride massacre itself?
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