Scream 2 (1997)

Horror Rated R

More meta. Scream 2 ups the stakes of its predecessor by opening in a theater where bloodthirsty horror fans await the debut of a movie based on events that took place in the original Scream. So right off the bat, the franchise is spoofing itself and – rather viciously – its own fans (when a victim is being stabbed on the screen in the movie within the movie, the audience goes wild). Screenwriter Kevin Williamson has so many layers at work here – satire, formal ingenuity, social commentary – you could argue that the first 10 minutes of Scream 2 attain a deranged sort of brilliance (especially considering Charlie Kaufman wouldn’t introduce his own brand of narrative invention for another two years with Being John Malkovich). Unfortunately, this impressive juggling act isn’t something Williamson and director Wes Craven can maintain, and so the rest of the film becomes a fairly routine horror whodunit, full of gotcha moments and gore. Although perhaps that, too, is its own form of metacommentary. As Jamie Kennedy’s movie geek notes at one point: “Your core audience expects it.