The Scream franchise’s second installment is just as murderous and twisty as the original, but its chaotic ending requires some unpacking.
- Scream 2’s ending delivers a satisfying showdown between Sidney and the killers, but the reveal isn’t as rewarding the second time around.
- The killers in Scream 2 are revealed to be Sidney’s college friend and a reporter, upholding the tradition of Ghostface being two different characters.
- Scream 2 sets up the motivations of the killers and explores the satirical edge of the series, while also introducing an unlikely hero in Cotton Weary.
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Scream 2‘s ending features a blood-soaked climax packed with deaths, revelations, and twists. It’s worth unpacking how the movie sets up and pays off its killer ending. The film sees Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) once again targeted by knife-wielding killers in Ghostface costumes two years after Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) original massacre. This time around, the film takes place at Sidney’s college, where the film finds a suitable counterpart to the original’s suburban town of Woodsboro.
Scream 2’s finale manages to deliver a satisfying and tense showdown between Sidney and the two killers, even if the revelation isn’t quite as rewarding the second time around. While the original film ends with Sidney managing to dispatch the killers, the second finds her in more dire circumstances. However, when the mastermind turns on the secondary killer, Sidney’s powers of negotiation — and some unlikely help from Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) — deliver her from a vengeful death. The film’s chaotic ending merits a closer inspection of who kills who, who survives, and why.
Scream 2’s Ghostface Identity Reveal Explained
Scream 2 follows in the tradition of killer reveals set up in the original Scream, with some key differences. The film continues the trend of Ghostface being revealed as two different characters. It’s a core part of the Ghostface killer’s M.O., one that complicates the series’ whodunit mysteries by allowing suspicious characters to establish alibis. In Scream 2, the killers are revealed to be Sidney’s college friend, Mickey Altieri (Timothy Olyphant), and reporter Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf). The latter turns out to be Nancy Loomis, Billy Loomis’ mother.
With Nancy Loomis as the mastermind and Mickey as the unstable maniac, Scream 2’s killer reveal upholds the dynamic of original Scream’s killers Billy and Stu. However, the sequel’s twist is slightly less satisfying. The revelation that Debbie Salt is the killer doesn’t quite play fair with the audience, as there are no clues that point to Debbie secretly being Billy’s mother. The Mickey reveal has the opposite problem: it’s too obvious. Granted, there’s a case to be made that Mickey’s creepy demeanor makes it more likely viewers will write him off as a red herring. Still, it’s not exactly a rewarding twist.
Nancy Loomis & Mickey’s Ghostface Motivations Explained
The respective motives of Scream 2’s killers once again uphold a Scream tradition. One killer is motivated by a personal connection to Sidney, while the other is motivated by simple bloodlust. Nancy Loomis initiates the plot against Sidney out of revenge. Not only did Sidney kill Nancy’s serial killer son, but her mother broke up Nancy’s marriage. When Randy (Jamie Kennedy) is on the phone with the killer, it’s his declaration that Billy Loomis was a “rat-looking, homo-repressed mama’s boy” that provokes Ghostface to snatch him in broad daylight. It’s a neat piece of foreshadowing, even if Scream writer Kevin Williamson regrets killing Randy.
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The element that distinguishes Scream from other horror franchises is its satirical edge. The series delivers sharp meta-commentary on the horror genre while offering chilling installments in that very same category. Mickey’s motivation fulfills this meta-purpose. The character’s killing spree is primarily motivated by a desire to cause a media sensation by blaming his acts of violence on movies. It’s a cynical motivation, which plays into the 1990s’ widespread moral panic over the supposed corruption of America’s youth through violent film and TV content. In this way, Scream 2 gives a sly nod to the likely reaction to its subject matter.
Why Cotton Weary Helps Sidney In Scream 2’s Ending
Cotton Weary is a suspicious and highly unlikeable figure for most of Scream 2. Liev Schreiber puts in a great performance as the shifty-eyed, fame-hungry Cotton, who’s fresh out of jail after the original Scream proved he didn’t murder Sidney’s mother, Maureen Prescott. Cotton’s aggression and resentment toward Sidney places him high on the list of suspects. However, Cotton emerges as an unlikely hero of Scream 2 when he shoots Nancy Loomis, saving Sidney from her knife.
Of course, Cotton’s resentment nearly gets the better of him during the climactic showdown. Nancy’s reminder that Sidney, who sent Cotton to prison for a year, will always be the top story nearly sways him. Yet Sidney’s able to pull it back by agreeing to do a Diane Sawyer interview with Cotton. The climax plays into Scream’s cynical sense of humor, with the promise of TV attention, rather than altruism, saving Sidney’s life. However, Cotton somewhat redeems himself in Scream 3, when he refuses to give up Sidney’s location to a new Ghostface killer.
Dewey’s Survival Twist Explained
Scream 2 sees Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) almost die once again. After his near-fatal stabbing in Scream, it seems the nerve-damaged cop has finally met his end after Gale (Courtney Cox) sees him stabbed numerous times through soundproof glass in the sequel. It’s a tragic scene, but the tragedy is somewhat undercut when the final moments of Scream 2 show a still-living Dewey being loaded into an ambulance. Of course, it’s good to see Dewey alive, but it plays into a somewhat frustrating trend of major characters surviving fatal stabbings.
In Scream 2, it’s explained that Dewey was ironically saved from death by the scar tissue from his stab wounds in the original Scream. This detail can be read as a wry joke, wherein the filmmakers acknowledge that Dewey’s fates in Scream and Scream 2 are so similar that the knife even went into the same spot. However, Dewey’s repeated survival in Scream 2 is the first step in normalizing major characters constantly living through almost-fatal stabbings. When the trend is repeated again and again, it starts to lower the stakes of the Scream movies.
How Scream 2 Sets Up Scream 3’s Twists
Scream 3 is considered something of a dark horse in the Scream series. It’s the only one of the Wes Craven Scream movies not written by Kevin Williamson, and it’s often cited as the weakest installment. Nevertheless, some of the film’s twists find their groundwork laid, for better or worse, in Scream 2. The movie begins with Cotton Weary, who, having leveraged the fame of his actions in Scream 2 into a TV talk show, meets his end while setting up the new location in Los Angeles. The events of Scream 2 have left Sidney traumatized and unwilling to leave her house for long stretches of time in Scream 3.
Scream 2 also sets up one of Scream 3’s worst twists. Scream 2’s secret relative revelation, while roundly criticized, gave Scream 3 permission to repeat the turn. The third film’s killer, Roman Bridger, is revealed to be Sidney’s secret half-brother. What’s more, Roman explains that the action of the last 2 films was, in fact, set in motion by him when he showed Billy Loomis footage of Maureen Prescott having an affair with Billy’s father. While Scream 2 is upheld as one of the best installments in the franchise, it’s responsible for laying the seeds of absurdity that come to bloom in the follow-up.