While rediscovering the 'Scream' franchise, I've divided it into two long chapters in my head. 'Scream 3' is what rounds out the original trilogy, and whatever comes after that is the "next generation". It was interesting to note that I see 'Scream 2' in a very different light than I used to, taking it to be well-done, if perhaps a little convenient in its farce on the horror movie sequel. So, logically, 'Scream 3' would almost have to be better by definition, if it's farcing something as often failed as the concept of a trilogy, right?... right?
Well, diving right into it, '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 things up as they go, as long as those box office numbers keep coming. So, I'll give it up to the film for portraying something like studio interference in such a way. But it's also hard to do the "sequel" farce a second time and still have it hold any water.
Anyway, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) now lives a secluded and locked-down life, working as a crisis counsellor for abused women. Soon enough, an eerily familiar voice gives her a call; her deceased mother. To make a long story short, this eventually brings her to Hollywood where some murders have started within the cast and crew of 'Stab 3'. This eventually reunites the old "Scream Team", including Sidney, Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) among others to "Scooby-Doo" this murder mystery, find out who the new Ghostface Killer is, or if it's two of them working together again, etc.
As per usual, there's a whole new set of rules brought to us by Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), 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. And really, that's sort of my gripe with the way this movie eventually goes down. I won't spoil anything, but I'm just gonna say, Randy's pretty much right about that final point.
This is sort of a weird one because for as much as it seems to be a pretty solid commentary about studio interference when it comes to movie-making (especially with money-grabbing trilogy chapters), that's also its downfall (as I sort of mentioned earlier). It IS the third time we've seen 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 I think by this point, either other non-'Scream' titles were grabbing our interest, or we were just plain starting to get a little tired of the whole teen horror thing, if not the slasher thing altogether.
A few names are added to the cast here, including Patrick Dempsey as Detective Mark Kincaid, Scott Foley as 'Stab 3' director, Roman Bridger, and Lance Henriksen as 'Stab 3' producer, John Milton. Then there's a cast of 'Stab 3' actors that includes, among others, Emily Mortimer as Angelina Tyler (playing Sidney), Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie (playing Gale), Matt Keeslar as Tom Prinze (playing Dewey), Deon Richmond as Tyson Fox (playing a Randy equivalent) and Jenny McCarthy as Sarah Darling - a typical throwaway blonde we see in slasher horror movies. Even good old Patrick Warburton joins the cast as Jennifer's bodyguard, Steven Stone. So I will say that for a list of (some) recognizable faces this can be kind of fun. Hell, even Jay and Silent Bob pop up at one point (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, respectively).
All in all, I think this grows on me a little tiny bit every time I watch it, but that's really just a personal thing. It's slowly falling into the "guilty pleasure" category because, while it has a few clever things about it, the overall execution is just sort of "meh" to the point where it's almost laughable. I'd swear, they made characters extra stupid for this one. All of it leads to a disappointing, almost "WTF" type of reveal as well, which almost feels cheap. I think if they could have been more clever, or even risky with who the killer was in this one, I'd have gotten more out of it like I did with 'Scream 2'. But even though I might see this as a sort of guilty pleasure now, it's still not very well done and in many ways felt like the end of things back in the year 2000. Turns out, however, we were wrong! Three more to go!