Five Cliches Inspired by Scream 2 That Refuse To Die

Scream (1996) was hailed as a breath of fresh air in its reinvention of the slasher film and success in rising above the cliches and tropes that helped kill the subgenre in the first place. a stark contrast to Scream 3 (2000) which was heavily criticized as succumbing to the silly tricks the original had satirized. How could a series garner extreme ends of critical reaction at the beginning and end of its lifecycle?

The answer is somewhere in the middle – okay, literally in the middle: Scream 2 (1997) represents the height of the franchise’s popularity and didn’t have the element of surprise as the original did. It had to continue to deconstruct the formula while at the same time adhering to it, in order to please the audience that wanted more of the same. Scream 2 was a precarious balance that way, and came out largely smart and successful, with a just forgivable amount of wear and tear on the concept and plot logistics. If Scream 2 was the benchmark sequel, that is perhaps why subsequent chapters have been sneakily patterned after it, hoping to achieve the same results.

It’s a formula, a very simple formula! Let’s look at five story elements that originated in Scream 2 and have been used – nay, overused – ever since.

1. THE WHOLE MOVIE META HOLE

Movies within movies are nothing new, but like the other cliches that 1996′s Scream turned on its head, this one was intelligently improved-upon. That was accomplished by using real life movies instead of made up ones. By mentioning slasher movies that existed in our reality like Psycho and Prom Night, the safe space between movie and reality was frighteningly short and the events seemed like they could really happen because they were taking place in the same world we live in.

In Scream 2, the first point of division from reality for the series was Stab, but it worked because it was simply a story tool to mirror Scream: the original was about characters forced to live a real-life horror movie whereas the sequel is about characters dealing with the effects of a horror movie portraying their lives. Two sides of the same coin, you see. In that way Scream and Scream 2 function better as a flawless double-feature than a flawed trilogy.

While Stab was the peeling of an additional layer of self-reference that built upon Scream, it was a motif that would be repeated – with consequences. Scream 3 added another layer of fiction/life with Stab 3. But if Stab was supposed to be a mirror held up to reality in Scream 2, than in Scream 3 it was a mirror held up to a mirror – not quite the same eloquence. Scream 4 at least acknowledged itself as a mirror of a mirror of a mirror. The more mirrors held up to each other, the less reality is represented anymore.

As Scream went on, Stab became an easy substitute for the real-life films the original had used to form a personal connection with the viewer. Not to mention it’s hard for the mainstream to identity with plots increasingly reliant on a fake movie. Match that up against the beautiful simplicity of 1996 when Halloween playing on the TV in the living room was paralleled by events happening in and outside the house. This year in Scream 4 when Ghostface attacks Gale in the barn – while the scene intercuts similar moments in Stab starring Heather Graham – it’s nowhere near as powerful as it should be and is almost a direct ripoff (or homage, take your pick) of Scream 2‘s opening scene which played the Stab card in a more understated fashion. As much as the faux-franchise can be endlessly fun to deconstruct from a fanboy point of view, it has become a crux after Scream 2. Simply put, this mirror needs to shatter.

2. NO, MOVIES MAKE PSYCHO’S *LESS* CREATIVE

An extension of number one, the tendency of the killer to base his targets on Stab is an element originating in Scream 2 that has since been used again and again. The copycat element was sort of loose and always evolving in Scream 2 as the characters struggled to figure out what was really going on. Initially it was theorized that the killer was making a real-life sequel to Stab, but after Cici kisses cement Ghostface is instead labeled a copycat killer because they discover the doubling of names (Maureen Evans, Phil Stevens, Casey Cooper). Halfway through the movie, the gang sit around discussing it and conclude the killer actually is not either continuing the movie or copying real life – but sort of both – sequelizing real life by finishing what was started in Woodsboro. Randy’s death proves their theory correct, and this is the strongest clue that the copycat angle is a cover for the killer (eventually revealed to be Mickey) with the true motives being more personal (Mrs Loomis). Most importantly, from this point forward, Stab is dropped – its purpose as metaphor and red-herring fully served.

Scream 3 pulled back Stab as a way to have character interplay within the making of a horror movie – except we never even get to see Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro shoot anything. The killer is basically offing the cast of Stab 3 to make the movie as a real life (sound familiar?) replacement for the one he himself (Roman) is shooting for the studio. Awkward much? What could have been a biting play on studio politics and creative control is never really explored. It just feels like a repeat of Scream 2‘s scenario for the hell of it.

As fine a film as Scream 4, it too succumbs to falling back on the copycat angle. You might argue it’s a completely different deal with the killer reinventing the original Stab as a real life movie… but that’s all semantics, really. What was fresh in Scream 2 is now overplayed, and the killer is hamstrung by the limitations that come with bringing the Stab franchise to life every single time. He cannot be truly menacing when he is forced to play by so many rules – he’s supposed to be the one making (and breaking) them!

3. THE HOT CHICK DIES SECOND

Casey Becker’s terrorizing and subsequent death was unique and one of a kind, even within the Scream film foursome. There was something so real about a pretty girl alone in the house, the 50 phone calls the killer makes, the inclusion of the parents. It was cold and shocking. In Scream 2‘s copycat killer plot, Cici Cooper suffers a similar chain of events, which took the superficial elements of the original Casey scene (the blonde alone, the phone calls, the safety check, the creeping, the chase, the kill) and compressed them. The scene succeeded as a tightly paced terror train charging at the seven-time TV Buffy The Vampire Slayer, almost cockily in spite of the fact it lacked the sustained suspense, gore quotient, and mournful resonance of the scene it was aping.

Which is why it’s a little tragic that the diluted formula of Cici’s kill would become a recurring sequence instead of the superior source it was based on (Casey’s). Blonde Sarah in Scream 3 becomes the recipient of the next duplication, only even more diluted, doubling the window smash and backstab of SMG without a cool chase or lovely sailing through the air. Scream 4 broke the forth wall by vocalizing the trope and offered a more intelligent effort when offing Olivia, but nonetheless we saw the timing and choice of victim coming because it has become a cliche after Scream 2. In comparison, the original Scream relied on tormenting Sidney as well as backstory intrigue to push the story forward through the first two acts.

Coming on the heels of Scream‘s success, Scream 2 had a lot to prove and needed to exceed the original in mayhem to show sequels could be equals. It proved its point well, so there was no need for the next movies to do the same. Scream 3 and Scream 4 earned the right to have more breathing room at this stage in each film but instead followed Scream 2 in a game of one-upmanship against each previous installment.

4. GHOSTFACE, UNMASK THYSELF!

Even in Scooby Doo the badguys had to be physically restrained while one of the gang pulled their mask off to see who the culprit was, but after Scream 2 the main killers cheesily did the honors themselves as if to say “Aha, look! I did it! It was meeeee!” The beauty of the climactic reveals in the original Scream was that there wasn’t an unmasking or disrobing – the movie appreciated the intelligence of the moviegoer enough to convey Ghostface’s identity through the batshit actions of Billy and Stu – I don’t think anyone had a hard time connecting the dots there.

In Scream 2, the killer unmasking himself happened for the first time, so got a free pass. Plus Mickey doing that had a very good motivation – it fed into his plan of playing Sidney against Derek on-stage in the theater of their lives. Plus he intended on being caught and wanted to get as much credit out of the situation as he could anyway. My point is that the unmasking was part of his character and showed us how his mind worked.

Unfortunately both Scream 3 and Scream 4 took a moment that was well-woven into the fabric of Scream 2 and ran it dry, seemingly as it was the easiest (read: laziest) way to show “whodunnit” – a cynical move that dumbed down what should be powerful moments and helped turn lightning in a bottle into an easily reproduced formula. It’s a given the killers will always want to explain their motive to the heroine before they expect to kill her (and the same goes for all slasher films with third-act motive exposition) because I suspect they secretly want her attention and validation. It’s not much of a victory if the ultimate target isn’t forced to acknowledge the criminal mind. That’s why they can’t just dispose of her like the other characters, even though the odds are that concession will cost them their lives. But the constant unmaskings are sloppy and leave Scream open for ridicule.

Even if Ghostface intends on showing his real mug, there’s no reason the mask can’t come off during a tussle or something more organic like that. This is another case where a story choice built into Scream 2 became the de-facto standard to come.

5. CLEANING OUT THE NEW CASTS

After Scream yielded survivors, the horror movie rule would be to kill them all off in Scream 2… except maybe Sidney. And that was the original plan of Kevin Williamson until script development demanded the second chapter leave enough living to carry onto Scream 3. And I’m sure the popularity of the adult survivors also had something to do with that. Poor Randy was the chosen sacrifice that would pair the foursome down to the now-legendary trio of Sidney, Dewey and Gale. So with three core survivors needed for safe travel through the films, that necessitated most of the carnage be carried out on new characters of Scream 2, and this would remain dogma for the rest of the series.

Cotton Weary is a variable in this equation: through the life of the trilogy he was practically a bit player at first, then expanded into a supporting role before being demoted (or promoted) to cameo death status. But Team Scream have their formula for handling new players practically patented: the original survivors live, and the fresh additions don’t – except for one. Whether it’s Joel in Scream 2, Kincaid in Scream 3 or Judy in Scream 4, the new blood is viciously disposed of but one is left standing as sort of a Reverse-Randy. I suspect this has more to do with money then anything – Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox commanded payrises and the power to almost nix sequels by bailing, so to prevent costly repeats it’s easier to just dispose of the new additions before they can gain popularity with the audience.

Telling is that the token new survivor is always someone we can’t possibly see again due to the changes in locale. Whereas the case could easily be made for say, a surviving Hallie to join Sidney in the following adventure, Joel is a local cameraman with no connection to the characters, Kincaid lived in LA his whole life and is a devoted detective there, and Judy’s lemon square doesn’t have the juice to squeeze beyond Woodsboro.

While the first Scream successfully launched a franchise, it was the positive stream of ideas offered by Scream 2 that allowed the series to continue all the way to 4 so far, sometimes to its detriment by relying on a formula derived from the first sequel.

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46 Responses to “ Five Cliches Inspired by Scream 2 That Refuse To Die ”


Reader Advisory: Comments may contain SCREAM 4 SPOILERS
  1. Nice article and your right after three sequels they should probably put an end to the “stab” movie stuff. Although I liked how they used it in the opening of scream 4.

  2. I completely agree. Its gotten to the point where a Scream movie could be made to satirize the Scream movies.

  3. Something that always bothered me about S2 was how the whole copycat theme came about but was totally dropped. It was a big reveal at the police station when Gale & Dewey discovered the victims names were matching but the idea was completely abandonned with not really any further reference. I think S3 did a better job of continuing an order-of-death theme with the idea of killing Stab 3 cast members off in script-death sequence. And S4 was a lot more consistent as well, with its mirroring of Scream/Stab 1. I think this is the one instance where an idea laid out by S2 was bettered by further sequels.

    With the mask reveal of the killers at the end of S2/3/4, I have to agree that they became tired. Especially Jill’s (given that the actor playing ghostface was a man in most of the movie and so she didn’t quite look right in that costume). I’d love to see Sidney actually rip the mask off a killer’s face in the future and reveal the killer herself (like Casey Becker did as she was dying).

    You are so right about the whole Stab concept needing to be almost forgotten now – if S5 comes about it needs to simply be a raw story. S4 was nearly there with its relocation back to Woodsboro and scenes reminiscent of S1. The sections of S4 focusing on the high school cast could have almost been s stand-alonme teen slasher movie for the new decade. If S5 happens they need to develop that formula further – phase out or loose the Stab references and YES, give us a nice long drawn out stalk-and-slash scene a la Casey Becker. Allow an extension of 10 minutes into the script to remind us why the Scream franchise is the Scream franchise!

  4. Great article. They should have ended the Stab films + the Scream films at 3 imo. Scream 3 ended perfectly and I enjoyed it very much. Scream 4 just made no sense to me. It just felt like it wasn’t for the love of horror, more for the love of money. Also, the Stab films were overused in the opening, and that ruined the film for me. By the time we got to the actual kills, I didn’t care who lived and died. If all the kills were as powerful and emotion driven as Olivia’s death scene, then I would have enjoyed it. If they make Scream 5, I hope they start fresh and not try and mimic so much.

  5. I agree with pretty much everything you said. But when you were talking about how the killer always reveals themselves by taking off their masks, you didn’t mention that in Scream 4 Charlie revealed himself to the audience as a killer when he stabbed Kirby. He wasn’t in his Ghostface costume. I guess that’s one exception to that cliche.

  6. I really do feel like the unmasking was a part of Mickey’s psychology.( and yes his ploy to become famous)
    Mickey is an exhibitionist.

    Of course he’d “invent” the reveal.

    Also I agree STAB has been overused…as have related Ghostfaces.
    And this Copy Cat motif is just as bad.

    I would totally go see a Scream where Sid was being stalked by a completely indifferent foe.

  7. Nice article, Wicked-scribe. Scream 2 wasn’t as fresh as the original but the Stab angle gave it a new layer of self-reflexivity. One sequel was the way to go, Craven & Williamson did a good job of amping things up without over-stretching. When Sid, Gale, and (at the last moment) Dewey it was cathartic as they’d been through so much (and Cotton, too!). They deserved peace, unfortunately the gross meant that there would inevitably a 3. Yet with Williamson out Kruger came in and he hung the plot on the Stab concept as a sloppy red herring in order for Hollywood shenanigans. The result was a film that flat. The series is really about Sid not the nutjob killers, thats what makes it different, if she died then it would be a shock but it’d be pointless, you may as well watch a Saw sequel. So 3 was hamstrung (the scenes with Sid in them talking about her fears and later facing them stand out in 3) by that and it didn’t do anything knew with the metafictive aspects. 4 works better and is almost like an alternative 3 despite its flaws. Its ideas are smarter, I think its use of Scream cliches works because its doing something with them. Sid, Gale & Dewey survive because they deserve to, while the young cast are killed off because it’s audacious to do so when it is expected that the younger audience will be sucked up to. That said the flaws post Scream 2 are to do with plugging away at sequels even when it isn’t a good thing for characters or plausibility. I still like 4 for how it comments on this while 3 didn’t.

  8. That was a great read, even if I’m not agree 100%.

    1. Well, that was true. But I think each one contributed, in a different way, to reinvent it (yes, even Scream 3, wich did it awful because of the script, not the concept).

    2. This one is being played out too much. Scream 3 pretty much shared the same concept of Scream 2 “making a real movie”. The same can be said of Scream 4, except in this case, the whole reson to exist for Scream 4 was that same concept: the reboot/remake. So it was a welcome twist.

    3. Cici shared the same (albeit less intense) harassment Casey had. The characters in Scream 3… not so much (again, because of a weak script and characters). And the twist in Scream 4 was that the target wasn’t harassed but her friends. That was cool.
    But this isn’t a cliche after Scream 2. This is at the saga’s DNA.

    4. Yeah, I’d like to see a different unmasking.
    Scream 2 was the first proper unmasking we saw, but for me, when Billy grabs the voice changer was another unmasking. So, again, this is not a Scream 2 cliche.
    Scream 3 unmasking was pretty lame because of the cheap trick involving Roman’s fake dead.
    And Scream 4 had two. A shocking one (mirroring Scream) with Charlie, and the classic one (again, it’s in Scream’s DNA). No problem with that, but I’d like to see something new.

    5. Is it real that bit about Kevin’s original script killing Gale and Dewey too? Or it is just a rumor? Having Sidney alive was the real rule breaker.

    Another rule breaker in Scream 3 to have at least Sidney alive. Because of it being the last chapter, everyone expected her to die.

    And again in Scream 4, not killing Sidney.
    Anyway, I don’t know for how long they can play it.

    And for killing the new cast… Well, in Scream 2, the only one susceptible to survive was Derek, and they kill him because of that play guessing if he was the killer or not.

    And in Scream 3… there wasn’t any interesting character, so…

    Scream 4 had great new characters who could have carry the torch, but we all know how that turned out (wich was great). So I can’t count it as a cliche.

  9. What a fantastic article, you bring up so many excellent points. It’s a little depressing though, I just don’t feel any sequels will ever even come close to the original for me.

  10. And many STILL want Wes Craven to continue these movies???

    Well I’ve mentioned all of this stuff before and judging from sequels from other series, Scream will only get even worse from here. Also I must add that Wes Craven used to make a good film once every ten years. In the 70′s “The Last House On The Left”, the 80′s “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, in the 90′s “Scream”, but in the 2000′s he hasn’t done anything remotely good and I don’t expect him to do anything else. Maybe he’ll get as much money for Scream 5 to continue to his tired ideas with STAB and successfully bury the Scream franchise to the ground–if Scream 4 didn’t do it already.

  11. I always wondered why the killer jdidnt just keep the costume on and try to kill sidney (although that would be even more cheesy having her pull off the mask when he is dead,lol)

    But I guess mickey, wanted to terrify her, he wanted to have the full expirience like Billy and Stu, and as for Mrs loomis, she wanted to get her revenge, and just killing herwasnt enough, as for Jill, she also wanted to get her sort of revenge on sidney, for taking her ‘spotlight’ so I guess they all make sense, even the roman one does, once again wanted to get revenge,

    and as for scream 3 becoming the cliche’s this is how I saw it

    S1- They knew the rules of the movies
    S2- They knew the sequel
    S3- it became the movie

    so I kind of like it, the only majr complaint of it being to ‘movielike’ is when randy’s backstory rule was true, this is unrealistic, first of all, it claimes that this maureen backstory prooves that it is over forever for sidney, it just doesnt feel right, when he happens to know that there will be a backstory about the past. especially on film.

    (I dont really find this tape cheesy in itself, I find it reasonable that randy would make this once he heard about the killings, he even wears the same shirt)

  12. @stephon irvin, yep you have said it before. Craven didn’t write the films (sure, he apparently performed uncredited work on 4, for good or ill) so it’s unfair to jump all over him, it’s like your obsessed with him – joke – Bwahahaha! Come on, surely ALL the things you dislike can’t be down to him, what about Kruger or Kevin or the Weinsteins. It’s tunnel-visioned of you. And maybe the need to think of it as a “franchise” like McDonalds that goes on and on is the problem. Must it? Franchise is a useful word for the studios as it only speaks of business, it shouldn’t matter to audiences. As for 1 good Craven film a decade? Well what about Hills and New Nightmare and Scream 2. And yes I’m biased I quite liked 4.

  13. Oops double post – just wanted to make clear that I’m not a Huge blinkered Craven fan (Cursed? Ouch! Hills Part 2? Oh no! Music of the Heart? Unmusical!) but I do like some of his films. And it’s unfair to scapegoat him for ALL of the failings you may perceive in Scream 3 and 4, tho yes some of the weaknesses he’ll have contributed too. It’s nice to be fair, you know. Man, I’m long-winded!

  14. “And again in Scream 4, not killing Sidney.
    Anyway, I don’t know for how long they can play it.”

    Killing Sidney would adhere to the rules of most horror sequels. Allowing her to live commented that the reboot/remake aspect that no one could replace the awsomness of the original. As many fanboys say, “remakes suck”

  15. Eh, not feeling this article. Feels pretty nitpicky for a fan site and seems to simply be stroking “Scream 2″ for many paragraphs. I can see some of the arguments to some degree, but how can you say “Scream 4″ did a dry reveal? Charlie’s reveal with Kirby was shocking and brutal, and Jill jumping out at Sidney was super creepy because she actually got Sidney right in the gut.

  16. I think that after all that time between s3 and s4 that they would’ve done something different and neat instead of the same stuff. It’s like we waited 11 years to watch the same thing only this one was below standard. With all the remakes and stuff I thought s4 would show those people how 2 really make a horror film.

  17. funny you say everything you say since your comments are the same and the same in every fucking article.

    WEEEE

    GEEEET

    IIIIIT

  18. @drewjobullo “Something that always bothered me about S2 was how the whole copycat theme came about but was totally dropped. It was a big reveal at the police station when Gale & Dewey discovered the victims names were matching but the idea was completely abandonned with not really any further reference. I think S3 did a better job of continuing an order-of-death theme with the idea of killing Stab 3 cast members off in script-death sequence. And S4 was a lot more consistent as well, with its mirroring of Scream/Stab 1. I think this is the one instance where an idea laid out by S2 was bettered by further sequels.”

    Well said! In almost all detective stories/manga I have read, the author is consistent enough about a theme of murder. If you gonna do a copycat angle, do it all the way through. And imo, Scream 4 is the best of the 3 sequels to carry on a theme–which is to make a real-life remake/reboot. I really felt that notion after watching Scream 4 three to four times. Something that I never felt with Scream 2 or 3, because the elements of theme are dropped once they mentioned it in the plot!

  19. I think this is a nice article, but I felt surprised to see that it’s written by the same someone who has praised Scream 4 to such height in the past.

    It almost seems contradictory to point out so many flaws (in this article that) Scream 4 has while claiming it to be pretty close to flawless in the past articles.

  20. @nick & @rick: I know Charlie didn’t unmask, but I did specifically mention it was the “main” killers that did the unmaskings. Personally I tend to think of Mickey as the main S2 killer and Jill as S4′s – I found them more intimidating then their respective partners, regardless of who was calling the shots.

    @rick additionally: Thanks for the constructive feedback. I’ll say yes, this is a fansite, but being a fan doesn’t mean all I should be doing is lavish praise on the films. What motivates me is to explore the things that worked and didn’t work. We won’t always agree but I’d rather write honestly than play it all safe.

    @Ghostface: I do think S4 is near-perfect, but it’s not relevant to repeat all the film’s strengths in an article specifically about repetitious plot points the films pulled from S2. The critical points I made on S4 here are ones I didn’t bring up in my reviews because they weren’t biggies, but here are on topic.

  21. So the article is really good, and there are some really good points. But the Scream movies are classics, all of them in their own way. With Scream 1 it was the base story… but it set up the rest of the films. Think about it in Scream sydney’s mother is already dead they pick up a year later with a killing a day before the anniversary. The opening kill in Scream is awesome one of my favorites of them all. You know your watching a horror movie because it just has that feel but you really dont expect what happens to Casey and Steve with that 1st phone call. Then with the opening kill for Scream 2 ya it wasnt as good as the original and you sorta saw it coming but it was good in its own special way, here they are watching this movie everyones going nuts this girls b/f comes back and sure we know whats going on but she doesnt. And then boom lol shes getting stabbed in front of 100s of people, and everyones just cheering there so into this movie based on the “real” events of Scream. Its a classic moment, imo.

  22. Oh yeah, a side note: Sister Murphy and Lois both survived in S2. Given, they are small characters. But to me, they are no smaller than Joel, especially when they are played by recognizable faces.

  23. @ rick, I will have to disagree with you on the reveals. But remember, this is my opinion. I knew Charlie was one of the killers way before the reveal, and he also made it too damn obvious when he was outside. A complete ripoff from “The Faculty”. I hope I’m not the only one who noticed that. I know Kevin wrote the screenplay to it, but that just gave it away. As for Jill, I will not get into that again.

  24. @ TBJ9, agreed, and @ Ghostface, will also agree on the small characters.

  25. If they do 5, they have to really twist some things.

  26. The “unmasking” in Scream is really clever. We, the audience, basically know who the killers are – Stu (because it’s pretty clear it isn’t Randy) and Billy, as his reappearance stumbling downstairs “bleeding” but remarkably articulate looks too fishy (as did his camp reach out to Sid after being “stabbed”, hammy lunatic!) yet there hasn’t been a big reveal. Then, Sid gives Billy the gun he opens the door lets Randy in and… Bam! Psycho quotation, Bam! Billy shoots Randy! Shit, he IS the Killer! Stu turns up and Yep he’s another one! But the unmasking is complete when they pass the voice changer between them because the Voice IS the Killer. It’s such a clever way to do it, the change in Billy’s demeanour to full on nutcase is amusing in a sick way. The mask-off reveal is a bit hammier, a bit as Wicked-scribe says “it was meee!”. That said Charlie stabbing Kirby is one of the most horrible if obvious Killer reveals.

  27. I love the unmasking scenes my heart is always racing and I think they are very powerful and get me so hyped up I would never want them to go away.

  28. I’m all for the constructive, but Matthew Goulish once said that criticism doesn’t change the art, it only changes the critic. I’d just prefer a different kind of analysis, I suppose. But this is a great site, otherwise, and I appreciate all your hard work to keep it interesting :)

  29. I agree with a lot of what you say to a point. One thing I think everyone must consider whenthey see these movies is that they are “movies” The Scream trilogy has always had its moments of cheesiness, but it doesn’t matter because as a whole the film is a thrill ride of experience. If there is one genre of film to go and deconstruct for its stupidity at times, trust me stay away from horror films because they all have their problems. To me, Scream has been the best horror franchise i’ve ever seen run 4 sequels thus far, and the acting is amazing. As long as the acting is good, the body count is up there, and the story keeps me i my seat, I will always repect te Scream series.

  30. Brilliant, one of the best deconstructions to the Scream sequels that I have ever read. You hit the nail right on the head.
    It captures the feeling of why Scream 3 and Scream 4 come off as so much more inferior sequels, there is no surprise they begin to follow a pattern and it has murdered the franchises creative momentum

    “Scream: the original was about characters forced to live a real-life horror movie whereas the sequel is about characters dealing with the effects of a horror movie portraying their lives. Two sides of the same coin, you see. In that way Scream and Scream 2 function better as a flawless double-feature than a flawed trilogy.”
    - I’m gonna agree. I think I’ll probably just view the franchise as a perfect double feature and disconnect from the disappointment of the last two films ;)

  31. Great article, interesting stuff. What’s happened to the Unseen Scream 4 posts, though? Thought you were going to post more?

  32. I wouldnt say Jill was the main killer in Scream 4 i think it was her idea.. the whole thing was thought up by her and Charlie just played along. But if you think about it shes in most of the scenes when someone is killed. Lets start from begining to end…. Jennie and Marnie there had to be 2 killers for that scene so Jill and Charlie were both involved. When Olivia got gutted jill was in her house watching so that was all Charlie. Obviousley it was jill who stabbed Gail because Charlie was up on stage and what not, plus jill gave herself up when she told dewey about the matching scars. But she didnt kill Gail. Then weve got the attavk on the cops and syd and Jills mom and im guessing they were both involved in that on. And then you have Robbies death and that was Charlie and Kirbys death was Charlie. Then Jill killed Trevor and Charlie but that was after she was unmasked. I honestly was in more shock it was Charlie then i was Jill. Thats just my opinion though.

  33. I wasn’t surprised that Jill was the main killer in Scream 4 because I really don’t think Charlie would have been able to come up with such a complex plan alot of it had to do with timing.Jill only had him as an accomplice because of his knowledge of horror movies and she needed him to throw and move the bodies.

  34. I have to disagree about the Scream 4 reveals. I thought the way Jill took off her mask was very creepy and effective. Sidney had already been stabbed at that point, so revealing herself would be safer. And Jill is so messed up that she would want Sidney to know that it was her cousin the whole time. Furthermore, Charlie’s reveal wasn’t an unmasking, and it was very organic and clever.

    I agree about the copycat killing theme. It seems that each sequel the characters determine that the killers are trying to recreate the events of the first film, but then it is dropped. The recreation only holds up for the first few killings (not even that well sometimes), and then the killers just start targeting whoever.

    It’s also interesting what you said about all the stab sequels; the more there are, the further away from reality Scream goes. But they’re still effective in commenting on all the ridiculous horror movie sequels that come out. We don’t really have another good example of a modern horror movie that gets a bunch of sequels besides Saw, which was brought up. The Stab movies have become part of the mythology of Scream. Plus the movies are fun because they’re allowed to be super ridiculous.

    This is a funny sentence: “Judy’s lemon square doesn’t have the juice to squeeze beyond Woodsboro” I’m not sure if she’ll come back or not. Like you said, that one surviving character usually doesn’t have any reason to be with the main characters. And Hicks seems to fit really well into the archetype that has been established by those characters. She’s a new character who didn’t play a very essential role in the movie who you figure out survived in the very end. Even if Scream 5 is still in Woodsboro, I don’t think her absence would be that weird. Nor would her presence. Who knows, they could have had bigger plans for her.

  35. I agree with you!
    Kirby could have lived, a new randy with a new dewey(judy). It should’ve been trevor who was the new sidney. But I respect the writer’s choice for killing everyone but hicks, it is his story anyway.

  36. @Steve R – “And Hicks seems to fit really well into the archetype that has been established…if Scream 5 is still in Woodsboro, I don’t think her absence would be that weird. Nor would her presence. Who knows, they could have had bigger plans for her.”

    I have an awful feeling that they DO have bigger plans for her. The fact that they set her up as a possible killer (her high school back-story with Sidney, their creepy encounter on the landing, her clear obsession with Dewey and dislike of Gale) worries me a bit that she survived. I can seriously see her returning and being saved as a future killer – perhaps even the last ever killer should Scream 5 or 6 be made. I felt her to be a weak character, too cartoonized, and I will forever be irritated with that moment at the very end of the film where she reveals she was wearing a bullet proof vest and then sort of rolls her eyes back and feints. God, I wish they hadn’t made that so slapstick – its one of the final moments of the movie!!
    If she does return and they want to make her a killer, they need to make sure that her character becomes more serious and darker, as the film leads up to it, and not a bit of a joke.

    On this note, I think that Roman was an inadequate killer. I know people who saw S3 and said “who was he in it again?” I LOVED Jill as the killer in S4 and so am happy this is how the story went. I was so worried that it would end up being Trevor. So, in future installments, should they go into production, they need to ensure that each killer betters their predecessor – which is a hard thing to do. And the last EVER killer needs to be epic, which Roman was not. My god, they’ll have to make it Gale Weathers or Maureen friggin’ Prescott at this rate!!!

  37. I think the Stab movies within the Scream movies is great.Cause back in the beginning with the first Scream it was “real” those people lived that. With the second Scream movie they introduced the Stab films, based on the true story that went on a year before. If the Stab film didnt come into play, what would micki of gotten the idea and started another killing spree. With the third Scream movie they were on Stab 3 seems coincidence enough to work. But they throw you off because the director whos directing this particular movie has ties to syd. What would they of done just have Roman show up and kill people and tell syd this is why i did it. But he had a role in Scream 3, the director of the Stab movie. Those all worked well into the Scream movies i think so anyways. Now with the 4th one it was a little overboard. It was like the joke that wouldnt end. lol The first Stab sequence was great the acting was good it was funny, but the second one was distasteful, i didnt like the acting or the actors for that matter. The whole thing wasnt needed at all. But once again here these kids are obsessed with the original story. But they take their love of movies to far. Perfect plot for another Scream movie. And i thought despite a few things the 4th Scream was pretty good. But i really think the Stab films are good for the Scream movies as a whole.

  38. First post. Love this website.
    Have to say that I made sure I read no spoilers or read too much about Scream4 before it came out here in the UK and no idea of the plot. Because of this I enjoyed the movie a lot and feel that some people ruined the experience for themselves by reading up about it and find information out prior to just sitting and watching it. It is not a perfect movie for me it completely overcomes the awful Scream 3 – which I think is the worst movie it could have been (don’t get me started) and Scream 2 is my favourite.
    I agree with this article that Scream 2 set up the possibility for Scream 3 and 4 but I would like to have seen these movies create their own unique ideas, which I don’t think really happened. Scream 5 would be great but personally, if Scream 5 is simply going to continue where Scream 4 left off and now bring anything new or interesting to the table then perhaps there is no point.

  39. does anyone else notice that it doesnt look like sarah michelle gellar in that picture. I know its her but it doesnt look like her. lol

  40. scream 2 with the stab angle i liked, specially it kinda coming back to the first scream, with “scenes” from the movie and of course when tatum ask who would play syd and she said tori spelling, low and behold scream went and got tori spelling to play “stab” syd. now im scream 3 i guess it was also nice going back to the first with the prop houses that looked like syd and stus, and having the cars and of course poor tatums garage door demise. and now with scream 4 having stab “poke” fun at all the remakes is a great end to stab if you ask me. its tired and dried out now. plus youd think after a revengeful half-brother director kills off his cast in order to kill his half sister during his filming that would have ended stab their, with the death or roman should have been the death of stab (well really the death of milton) but then again scream spits back in your face with coming in with sequel after sequel even after a murder scene.

    now dealing with the unmasking i actually liked jills, just for the fact that it made my jaw drop, so i guess overall i liked the unmaskings but i will agree that it was in mickeys plan/phscy.(sp) to unveil himself, while roman and jills was to just shock you and make you say WTF. and i wouldnt have been surprised if in the first one stu took the mask off after all we know he was the last one wearing the ghost face costume.

    now i think scream 5 needs to break some new ground and break their own cliches, have maybe the hot blonde (or just hot girl) live, go back to a guy and guy couple killers instead of boy girl, maybe two people that syd has no idea exist but want to make a real life horror movie and not get caught that would go with one of Kevins original ideas to NOT have a motive to kill syd. i think it would be scarier.

    but i disagree on the part of Judy not being able to come into another scream same with Kincaid we all saw how kincaid was around syd, he could easily come back as either A) a hero B) a red herring or C) the killer he has seen enough “fucked up shit” to maybe just snap and see what it is like. and Judy can be a first kill or maybe a hero. maybe take over deweys place for a new cast, after all she was rather deweyish.

  41. Great article that reflects on where the franchise has come and I hope Kevin and Wes can read it and prevent this common place in the next sequence, if any. Maybe they will break that cliche of the survivor who disappear in the upcoming sequel with Judy appearing in Scream 5, since she is directly related to Dewey, Gale and even Sidney and as others have theorized, she might be the killer who emerged unscathed from the 4th movie and will be revealed the next chapter. If there is Scream 5, it must really be very good and introduce us in a new context.

  42. This article reads like a bad excuse.
    Scream 2 did not inspire any of these cliches.
    Scream 2 was the first sequel that was lazy.
    Saying it was lazy first doesn’t really defend it.

    Scream 2 copied the formula right down to the bone, Two opening kills, Sidney surrounded by her friends and not trusting them, Gale trying to get to the bottom of the story, two killers etc…

    If anything, I forgive the later sequels for falling back on some old tricks, but the second film didn’t need to, it just followed the formula because it was a lazy script.

  43. I feel you need to get a firmer grasp of what cliches are, Jason. There is no such thing as an instant cliche. By definition they are repeated elements. The five points I discussed in the article were not present in Scream 1. They were in Scream 2 first, then the others – hence in Scream 2 they weren’t lazy, they were original for the series when the series was only up to part 2.

  44. kool but scream still asome and in the 4th one she does kill sid almost..and the had to keep going with stab it worked on many levels

  45. Damn straight. There was real seriousness in Scream and Scream 2. The “Casandra” part of Scream 2 added a nice historical and spiritual foundation to Sydney’s unrest. “Casandra was doomed to always know the truth, but no one would believe her.” Even in Scream 3, her Mother as a Ghost and the confrontation of her past in the soundstage was similar and could have been just as excellent, yet they somehow cheesed it. That along with what you call “mournful resonance” was missing in Scream 4, and greatly missed. Sidney’s “1nnocence” then “Ca2andra” and “Gho3ts” were the soul of those Screams. And “mournful resonance” was what made the films so horrific and real, plus hitchcockyin quality suspense. Somehow they abondended all of these in 4. If Sidney was supposed to be Mature, it didn’t come across that way. Writing a book does not a mature person make. However, the third act of Scre4m was the best since the first because of the freedom of imagination that was given. The heart zappers to the head and one liners were golden. And the motive was sold the best since the first. If there is a 5, I do hope they put the soul back in, not just for Sidney but also for who ever the killer may be. And please tone down all the Stabs, the movies and the actual kills. Too much of a good thing and it gets old. Give Ghostface another damn weapon already. A computer virus would be more scary and original than his lazy voice on a cell phone and a bloody knife at this point.

  46. I had a thought about the Opening Sequence… To be new and shocking for SCREAM, why doesn’t the character at the beginning… LIVE. I read a while ago a draft of SCRE4M was the Sidney was attacked in the opening scene, but Weinstein nixed that idea. I think it takes the idea of a MANDATORY death and reverses it, I mean… no one would expect that. It doesn’t have to be Sidney, obviously, but if that character did live through the opening sequence and then later on in the movie was actually murdered!? You just… you wouldn’t expect for that character to get attacked and be killed after living through the opening scene… IMO. It would totally change the SCREAM franchise and actually bring it back to what it was, unpredictable.

    Before Casey, no character died at the beginning they were usually who you rooted for throughout the movie. Now it’s cliche to have a character die at the beginning, there really is no suspense, you just know they are going to die. Casey Becker, man… you went in not knowing. SPOILERS weren’t huge back then and it wasn’t really super promoted. I remember seeing it and thinking, OK, she’ll live, her parents are right there! She… wait… Why didn’t her parents see her?! What’s going on!??! OMG! The other movies… you just didn’t and really couldnt have that suspense. I hope they just go crazy with what they could and should be doing.

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