In my rediscovering of the 'Scream' franchise, it's clear that while the first was always a classic, my favourite is now a complete change of mind on '2'. This led me to wonder if I might see '3' in a different light as well. Once again, I remembered being very disappointed with it, so I hoped for a bit of a 180 on this as well. Instead, I really just did a 360 and came back around to this probably being the weakest title in the series. I mean, you know something's pretty weak when Jay & Silent Bob show up, and that's the best part of the whole movie.
I also have a slight bitterness towards this one, and it involves another story. To shorten it, a group of friends and I were split between seeing this and 'Pitch Black', so we all divided and simply watched what we wanted. I went the 'Scream 3' route because I had no idea what 'Pitch Black' was at the time. Little did I know that it would have introduced me to Vin Diesel as a character even more badass than Dom Toretto, and what could have been a very suspenseful and exciting experience in a darkened theater. If it ever comes back to theaters, I will go for that experience I missed out on. Let this story serve as a primary, first-hand example that familiarity isn't always the best way to go. I mean, say what you will about Riddick, 'Pitch Black' is a hell of a good time.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand, 'Scream 3' picks just a couple of years after 'Scream 2'. The backdrop for the movie is a studio lot, and the set pieces of 'Stab 3'; a film based on things we haven't seen happen. Presumably, 'Stab 2' was based on the events of 'Scream 2', but we skipped right over that. I suppose the point here is actually somewhat clever, as it shows how a studio will just make shit up as long as the numbers keep coming. But as much as one can argue that that's the point to the actual film (not just the film within the film), the whole formatting of this feels a bit too easy.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) lives a secluded and locked-down life, working as a crisis counsellor for abused women. She fears the killings might start again, and wants to be there when they do. Soon enough, a familiar voice gives her a call; her deceased mother. This gets her out of hiding and lures her to Hollywood where, indeed, some killings have started again within the cast and crew of 'Stab 3'; director Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), executive producer John Milton (Lance Henriksen) Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy) as the unknown Candy Brooks; Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey) as Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox); Tyson Fox (Deon Richmond) as "Ricky", an homage to Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), Tom Prinze (Matt Keeslar) as Dewey Riley (David Arquette) - who is also a consultant on the film; and Angelina Tyler (Emily Mortimer) as Sidney.
Within and around the studio lot, the old gang works once again to figure out who this new killer is, and their motivation for killing off the cast and crew of 'Stab 3'. As usual, there's a whole new set of rules brought to us by Randy, having to do with them now being stuck in not just a horror movie, not just a sequel, but the concluding chapter of a trilogy. 1- the killer, at this point, is superhuman and won't die easily. 2 - anyone, including the main character, has a chance of dying. 3 - the past will come back in some way, shape or form. Everything we thought we knew is pretty much null and void now. That's sort of my gripe with the way this movie does eventually go down. I won't spoil much here, but I'm just gonna say, Randy's pretty much right about that third rule.
This is sort of a weird one because for as much as it seems to be a commentary about studio interference when it comes to movie-making (especially with money-grabbing trilogy chapters) that's also its downfall. For starters, it IS the third time we've done this kind of thing in a few short years, so it's fair to say that by this time it was getting a touch old. This was also the peak of the teen slasher genre of the late 90s-early 00s, so even the genre itself was wearing itself out. On a more personal level, I thought it was a touch too comedic, it highlighted the stupidity of the characters in a big way, and honestly, even if it is the point, it just feels too "Hollywood".
The difference between this poking fun at a trilogy, as opposed to 'Scream 2' poking fun at a sequel, is something hard for me to put into words. I suppose with the first two, a lot of things were easier for me to appreciate as a horror fan - especially with the second one and its subtle jabs at how Hollywood does sequels. Maybe it's that this was such a full-tilt assault on Hollywood and there was really no subtlety behind it. The message is clever enough, but the delivery of the message was a little too "in your face" in comparison to the first two. It also takes us out of Woodsboro, and once we're out of a slasher's true neighbourhood, things tend to drop in quality.
Perhaps the biggest let-down here, however, is the big reveal. I won't spoil it, but it is incredibly out of the blue and unexpected. That sounds good, sure, but it leaves the audience asking "wait, what?" So, while this one, like its predecessors, sticks to classic horror tropes for the volume of its series, the problem is that the third film in a horror franchise is about where things usually start to wane (unless we're talking 'Elm Street' or 'Friday the 13th'; both very solid first chapters), so to bring it in here almost feels like self-sabotage. Although I will tip my hat to Craven for being ballsy enough to go through with it.
Body Count: 9