Scream 3
directed by Wes Craven
(Dimension, 2000)

The Scream trilogy brought fresh new blood (in copious amounts) to the horror film genre. Mixing humor, pop culture, and horror, the original Scream laid the foundation for a series that carried a lot of energy through two sequels. Scream 2 was something of a step backwards from the first movie, but Scream 3 marked a turn back in the right direction. Fortunately, Wes Craven knew when to stop, as Scream 3 evidenced some decline in the novelty of the concept, leaving us with three movies we can appreciate over and over again throughout the coming years.

The only problem I have with Scream 3 is the fact that it looked and sounded like a movie, whereas the original had enough of a hold on reality to make the experience seem like something at least remotely plausible in the everyday world. Scream 3 is not great but it is a lot of fun. The absence of writer Kevin Williamson is noticeable in a script that tries too hard and ends up overreaching. The attempt to complete the circle and redefine our understanding of the first movie in particular is a little off the mark. Making us rethink what we thought we knew is one thing; suddenly dropping new facts and heretofore unknown elements into the mix poses a problem for me.

I really don't understand why Maureen's supposed ghost is called upon here, nor do I find complete satisfaction with the drawn-out explanation of everything in the end. Much of the action in this final chapter centers on the set of Stab 3, the third movie based upon Gayle Weathers' account of the original Woodsboro murders haunting Sidney Prescott. I do like the concept of the horror movie within the horror movie, and having a Stab 3 actor play each of our Scream characters is a lot of fun and provides for some of the film's funnier moments. Recreating Woodsboro for Stab 3 is also a nice touch that works effectively here, and I was very happy to see Randy return (albeit in a noncorporeal form) to lay down the rules of horror trilogies.

Staying true to form, the opening scene is impressive and memorable. Neve Campbell is always fantastic as Sidney Prescott, and by this time even Dewey (David Arquette) has evolved into a likeable character. Courtney Cox frankly looks awful in most of these scenes, although her performance is quite good (but I must admit missing the much more forceful edge she maintained in the first two movies).

The extras included on the Scream 3 DVD are impressive. Along with a full-length commentary by Wes Craven and the crew, you get a look at an alternative ending and several deleted scenes with commentary, two trailers, cast and crew biographies, some funny outtakes and a short little behind-the-scenes look at all three Scream movies.

by Daniel Jolley
3 September 2005

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