Smallscreen Scream. Again.
Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Amadeus Serafini, Tracy Middendorf, Kiana Ledé, Santiago Segura, Anthony Ruivivar, Sean Grandillo, Bryan Batt, Austin Highsmith, Bobby Campo, Tom Maden.
Body Count: 8
Unlike a film sequel, writing up notes to the sophomore season of a TV show pivoting on its mystery means that unavoidable spoilers must follow…
Some months after Piper Shaw revealed herself to be the Lakewood Slasher and was killed by the combined efforts of Emma Duval and Audrey Jensen, the former returns to town after mucho therapy in an episode titled I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Of course, there’s the lingering question of who Piper’s accomplice was? We saw Audrey burning letters from her, Noah is still hellbent on finding out who it is, and fascination with The Lakewood Six (them plus Brooke, Jake, and Kieran) ignites as school begins again, with a handful of new students thrust into the mix to be killed or killer.
Unlike Season 1, rather than beginning with a high profile kill (save for a film-in-a-film gag) we have to wait to the end of the episode before the killer strikes, cutting out one of the survivors permanently (it was Jake – yay!!) and tormenting Audrey with the usual mix of calls, notes, and cryptic clues.
Meanwhile, new teacher Miss Lang expresses an interest in Emma; Keiran’s creepy cousin Eli moves to town, and the new sheriff and his intense son, Stavo, are also settling in. Noah is romantically enchanted by smart girl Zoe, much to Audrey’s annoyance, as she runs around trying to stop herself being exposed.
Jake’s disappearance is neatly covered up by the killer and a few episodes tick by with no murders, endangering the show of sinking into a quicksand of boredom. Efforts are made to try and keep things thrilling, but a stupid scene where Emma – walking home alone at night after all she’s been through! – is accosted by a strange car that cruises after her in a creepy slow fashion, only to turn out to be her Dad watching over her. Then there’s her terminally drippy sub-Dawson’s Creek relationship with Keiran, so devoid of passion it makes Twilight look like Deep Throat.
Eventually, Jake’s murder becomes public knowledge and things shunt into gear. Audrey, unable to spin so many plates any longer, confesses to Noah that she brought Piper to Lakewood as part of her documentary of Brandon James (who conveniently has a brother now), and knew she was Emma’s half-sister. This gets back to Emma eventually, they fall out, suspicion everywhere – but the murders continue.
Season 2 learns lessons from the lagging moments of the first year, culminating in some pretty tense final episodes: Noah is buried alive and the girls, now working as two sides of the final girl conundrum (the pretty popular type and the brooding outsider), do their best to save him – though it becomes more of a Crystal Maze puzzle as the killer leaves clues galore to be solved, punishing them both for killing Piper.
Come the end, with the Lakewood Six severely depleted, the young actors get the chance to flex their craft a little now all of them have been touched by death: Audrey’s girlfriend, Emma’s boyfriend, two girlfriends for Noah!, Brooke’s father…
The killer, when revealed, is the logical choice, with the others walking around with Red Herring stamped on their foreheads, and harks back to the original film in a nostalgic way, as it nears it’s twentieth anniversary.
A pending Halloween double-bill special may be the final world on Smallscreen Scream, as there’s little direction to go in from here on – though the Brandon James mystery is wheeled out for more is-it-isn’t-it hysteria, and new secrets are being dreamt up at every turn, but perhaps it’s time for Lakewood to have some peace and move the action somewhere else?
Marginally better than the first season, thanks in large part to upscaled production unities, more confident performances from the cast, and getting shot of Jake nice n’ early. And unlike its nearest competitor, the DOA Scream Queens, at least the main cast aren’t immune to being trimmed where necessary. Take note, Ryan Murphy, a slasher opus requires some actual slashing.
Blurb-of-interest: Austin Highsmith was in Room 33.