Welcome, dear readers, to Substream’s 31 Days of Halloween. While every holiday captures the hearts and minds of the Substream staff, Halloween holds an especially important place in our hearts. Now that we’ve entered the month of October, it’s time for us to share our love for this holiday with you.
Every single day in October, our collection of spooky staff writers and ghoulish guest contributors will walk you through a horror or Halloween-themed movie they adore. The goal is to both celebrate the titans and icons of the season while also introducing you to new films and scares to fill your autumn nights. Lock your doors, check under your bed, and settle in as you join Substream for our 31 Days of Halloween.
Day 29: Scream 2 (1997)
The Scream franchise has proven itself to be one of the more consistent horror franchises on the block (except for Scream 3, we don’t talk about her). Its very structure of being a conduit for commentary on its parent franchises has always given it a sense of smarts that some other movies just don’t have. In essence, if Scream were a person, they would be the student in the class always answering questions first.
The first Scream became the highest-grossing horror movie of the ’90s, bringing in over $173 million against its $15 million budget, a feat no other slasher film was able to reach until over twenty years later with Michael Myer’s return in last years Halloween.
Scream 2 furthered its meta-commentary on horror, this time diving into the often murky waters of the horror sequel. Where the very nature of the first Scream was all about subverting the conventions of a horror movie’s very existence, Scream 2 constantly reminds the audience that “the entire horror genre was destroyed by sequels”. Scream 2’s subversions instead come from it brilliantly basking in the aftermath of the first film, but it is also superior because of it, if we’re all going to be honest. Instead of trying to completely subvert these tropes, it leans into them, resulting in not only the definitive Scream sequel but one of the definitive horror sequels of all time.
Set two years after the first film, Scream 2 once again follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) now far away from Woodsboro, a student at Windsor College in Ohio with new boyfriend Derek Feldman (Jerry O’Connell), and friends Hallie McDaniel (Elise Neal) and fellow survivor of the previous film, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). The release of Stab, a film based on Gale Weathers’ (Courtney Cox) new book chronicling the events of the first film called The Woodsboro Murders, brings back a new Ghostface for another round of terrorizing Sidney and everyone around her.
Randy speculates that the new Ghostface is adhering to the rules of famous horror sequels, saying, “One, the body count is always bigger. Two, the death scenes are always much more elaborate,” while Gale also theorizes that Ghostface is killing students with the same names as victims from the first film. The addition of an in-universe franchise keeps Ghostface as an ever-present threat, a thread that deeply informs the next two films. Scream 2 also brilliantly deepens the strained love/hate relationship between Sidney and Gale, one of the most fascinating female relationships in any horror franchise.
The film also produces what are arguably the best sequences of the franchise, including the opening scene featuring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Omar Epps as two Stab moviegoers killed in a sea of Ghostfaces, to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s over-the-balcony sorority house death, the most tension ever seen in a Scream movie when Sidney and Hallie have to climb over an unconscious Ghostface after a car crash, to the brilliantly executed cat and mouse recording booth chase between Gale and Ghostface, and of course its iconic finale reveal. Scream 2 never gives the audience a chance to breathe. But who needs that?
Released just less than a year after the original, Scream 2 famously faced many production issues, from a rushed shooting schedule to having its script leaked online during shooting, resulting in many rewrites having to be done, including its opening and ending. Many scenes were also reworked on the fly. In an attempt to keep the ending as close to the chest as possible, actors appearing the final scenes were all given a dummy ending until the day they were to shoot the scenes when they were then informed of the killer’s true identify.
If anything, Scream 2 proved not only that the success of the first film wasn’t a fluke, but that the franchise had the ability to craft a superior sequel. While Scream 3 broke that streak, and the franchise found its footing once again with Scream 4 in 2011, Scream 2 remains the pinnacle of the franchise. It’s a reminder that when a sequel works, it can truly change the game.