MTV's adaptation of the beloved horror franchise is back and grosser than ever

By Price Peterson
May 31, 2016 at 06:00 PM EDT
Credit: Eliza Morse
S2 E1

The 1997 film Scream 2 was a lot of things: A genuinely good movie, a quickie cash grab, an introduction to Portia De Rossi, and a definitive authority on when to *69 his ass. But it also provided that prescient quote above, a classic Kevin Williamson quip that skirted the line between meta-comedy and actual dread. Because they do; they always come back. Hey, speaking of which…

Scream is now the title of an MTV series about teens physically unable to send calls to voicemail, and it is currently entering its second season. Fans of the film franchise who watched season 1 met its renewal with less “Can’t wait to see what happens next!” and more “Hmm let’s try that again.” Really all you need to know about season 1 was that when the killer was finally unmasked her first line was “hashtag mind blown?” That character was rightfully shot in the head. But now it’s time for season 2, and with a new batch of showrunners and writers calling the shots this year, we have every right to hope its sequel season will be a whole different thing. And judging by “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” it already is. Let’s talk about it!

We began with the patented Scream cold open: A girl receives a menacing phone call in an otherwise empty house only to find herself on the business end of a cooking utensil.

I promise not to talk about season 1 too much more, but it was a bad sign when it decided to open with a sincere remake of the intentionally satirical Stab cold open featured in Scream 2, right down to the unnecessarily posh house and gratuitous semi-nudity. So, uh, this one was better than that one. At least the killer didn’t use Snapchat again!

But wait, this one ended up being a meta-joke, as the murdered blonde was actually a character in a horror film playing at the movie theater where Audrey worked!

As you can see from her expression, Audrey was not super jazzed about this film. Possibly because the cast wasn’t very interesting and the writing wasn’t intelligent or funny or scary at all? Or it could also have been because she was suddenly receiving texts from some mysterious buzzkill!

Apparently as one of the two people who had murdered last season’s killer, Audrey had become locally famous, which I suppose explained why randos were asking her for selfies while she was on the clock. At least a dude in a melted Ghostface mask had the courtesy of photo-bombing them.

But just when Audrey believed she was imagining another killer in her midst, she realized there was another killer in her midst!

And this time he was wearing a body camera because 2016.

Luckily Noah arrived to shout at her through the window to not get murdered, and even though Audrey kind of had the situation handled, I’m sure she appreciated the moral support. Anyway, she broke a display case and grabbed a prop ice pick and stabbed the guy!

But it turned out this was just a teen pulling a “prank” on Audrey by forcing her to relive the biggest nightmare of her life. Who among us didn’t go around traumatizing murder-survivors during our teenage years? Just a classic prank.

So, after Audrey and Noah recovered from the prank of the century, they baked a funfetti cake for Emma, who was returning to town after finding herself or going on a vision quest or whatever. Maybe she was in a mental hospital, maybe she was sleeping under a car in Reno, nobody knows for sure and maybe never will.

But she was back and she was not about to let a little PTSD get in the way of hanging out with her bland friends while possibly getting murdered by some new psycho. Emma gotta do Emma.

Also, do you even remember this guy? Please don’t lie to impress me, because no you don’t. Anyway, he was the new kid in town with whom Emma fell in love after her boyfriend got murdered and I guess he had decided to stay in town after his Sheriff father was disemboweled by a frail-looking podcast host. His hair looks better now, though, right?

NEXT: Somebody sure knows what Audrey did last summer!

Like most of us, sometimes Audrey just wants to go sit in her car and maybe nap or gather her thoughts or listen to old Color Me Badd cassingles. But this time her reverie was interrupted by an “UNKNOWN” caller, which, because this show is VERY accurate to teen life, she immediately answered without hesitation even though you or I send our own mothers to voicemail with the lightning fast reflexes of a mongoose.

The gist was, as the season 1 finale had revealed, Audrey had been in contact with the killer and had somehow been involved in that killer’s schemes. But because Audrey is kind of unofficially the heroine of this show (at least until Emma wakes up from her walking coma), she is probably not a killer. But she sure feels guilty about something, and a new killer was sure going to harass her a ton about it.

Brooke remains great, but her biggest contribution to this episode was she got Jake to go full-nude in the pool before she ditched him out of disgust on account of him being disgusting. Very few people are cute enough to get away with referring to themselves in the third-person, and Jake was not one of them. Their secret romance was now dunzo (do teens still say dunzo?).

A new thing this episode got into was dream sequences. FINALLY, what horror needs more of is scares with zero stakes. Anyway, Emma now goes to a dream world where everything is yellow and there are haunted barns full of little girls digging around in viscera.

Quick question, was this supposed to be a pig? Because that thing looks very LOL in general.

Then Jake stepped into a bear trap and got his a** beaten with a baseball bat.

Yeah, see, this was not going to be one of his best experiences in my opinion.

Did you know that high school students take psychology classes now? I did not, but it’s nice to know they’re still receiving lectures about very important thematic things relevant to their plotlines. Also, I don’t trust this teacher on account of her slipping Emma her digits in the middle of class. Save it for Facebook, horny. This guy knows what I’m talking about:

I didn’t catch the name, but he is one of the season’s new characters and he has very strong ideas about horror films (which gave Noah the tingles for sure) and also he had a real knack for charcoal drawings on a tablet:

Come on, Scream. Behavior this creepy this early means he’s definitely not the killer. I liked this new girl though:

Zoë seems chill. I’d let her read my dream journal, wouldn’t you? But yeah, between her, creepy tablet dude, and psychology teacher, that’s at least three new victims and/or suspects in the mix! Because let’s be real, Scream does not have the highest body count and it seems reluctant as hell to kill off main characters (which was sort of the point of slasher movies). Or does it?

NEXT: A main character gets killed off!

At this point, the unknown texter was just being annoying. Like, how dare he or she riff on the other great Kevin Williamson slasher of the late ’90s? For a TV series that initially seemed desperate to avoid repeating anything that made the movies special and fun, it sure does love Kevin Williamson now! But I will be honest, I like that this season has decided to pay homage to things like I Know and Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Hostel. Like, fine. Whatever it takes!

Whoops sorry, had to take a nap real quick. What’d I miss? Emma and this guy were broken up but now they’re kissing again. Doesn’t matter.

So then Noah successfully badgered Emma into appearing on his podcast, which I think was supposed to be some kind of coup, but you cannot convince me that more than about four people download this thing. Like, yeah Noah has the voice of a morning zoo D.J., but that doesn’t mean I want to hear a horny teenage boy discuss true crime. Sarah Koenig is hard enough.

It’s not clear why Emma and Brooke decided to track down the haunted barn that Emma had seen in her dream, but here she was, popping her head into an empty haunted barn. I think she thought it would be a healing experience, but that doesn’t explain why she went in the dead of night. Old habits die hard I guess?

Oh, but, again, Scream can only really kill off one person AT MOST per episode, so that meant Jake was now going to be subjected to his THIRD fright scene in the same episode. This time he awoke upside down so that the masked killer could wield a scythe at him like a literal grim reaper.

Bye, Jake!

Credit where credit’s due: Scream killed off a major character in its season premiere. I was wrong to doubt it!

Unfortunately Audrey’s misery was just beginning, as even the bathroom stall at her work place wasn’t safe from the killer’s special xerox-and-scotch-tape form of harassment!

Also, I loved that this show has taken pains to insert new and cutting edge technology in order to instantly date everything, yet Audrey had randomly written letters in long-hand in the recent past? Okay! But she should definitely look up how to block unknown numbers from texting her. That might make things easier.

After noticing that the haunted barn was empty, Emma turned her attention to the flickering light in a nearby abandoned house. Inside she found a broken TV, a jar full of peanut shells, and a mirror covered in her childhood photos. No big deal. But it wasn’t until she noticed the hooded figure in the doorway that she really got concerned.

Whoops, get out of there, girl!

And there we had Scream‘s first cliffhanger of the season! Knowing the tricks this show loves to play, that silhouette will probably just be a fur coat hanging on a coat rack or something. But by now the kids are starting to detect that bad things are coming their way again, and that should increase the chills as the bloodspills start arriving.

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Joking aside, there was a refreshing dose of confidence present in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” that was largely absent last season. Scream is no longer trying to be a Scream show necessarily, but rather an all-purpose horror thriller. It’ll be a lot easier to forgive the ways it’s betrayed its source material so long as it can just be scary. Otherwise, to counter Sidney Prescott: It won’t be coming back, and neither will we.

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