Released in February of 2000, Scream 3 is the third installment in the Scream film series and the final installment in the Scream “trilogy,” wrapping up the story that began in Scream. As expected, it was directed by Wes Craven, but not written by Kevin Williamson; it was instead written by Ehren Kruger. This was due to Williamson being unavailable to write a full script for the new movie; what he did, instead, was write a 20 to 30 page outline that was used to aid Kruger in re-writing the script. This change in writers is where 3‘s biggest flaw comes into play: the script – it’s just not as good as the first two’s. However, this doesn’t mean Scream 3 is a terrible movie (as some may have you believe); while the violence and gore is toned down a bit, the scares are still there and the comedy is as abundant as ever. But it wouldn’t be a Scream movie without self aware humor, satire, and subverted cliches.
The film (apparently) takes place three years after the events of the second film. The setting has once again changed, this time to Hollywood, CA. where Stab 3 is being filmed (and believe me, Stab 3 is very important to the film’s plot). The plot involves Ghostface, once again terrorizing people and trying to kill Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell), only this time he’s leaving clues that relate to Sidney’s deceased mother. To say anymore would be to spoil a surprisingly great plot with a twist that’ll have you in shock.
The main cast that survived Scream 2 are here again: Neve Campbell (who I like more and more as the series goes on) as Sidney, David Arquette as Dewey, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, and Liev Schreiber as Cotton Weary (though, he only shows up in the opening scene). New faces include: Patrick Dempsey as Detective Mark Kincaid, Scott Foley as Roman Bridger, Lance Henriksen as John Milton, Deon Richmond as Tyson Fox, Matt Keeslar as Tom Prinze, Jenny McCarthy (in an extremely minor role, similar to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s minor role in Scream 2) as Sarah Darling, Emily Mortimer (very cute) as Angelina Tyler, Parker Posey as the annoying but amusing Jennifer Jolie, and Patrick Warburton as Steven Stone, Jennifer’s security guard. Scream 3 also has more cameos this time around (probably due to the Hollywood setting), which include Jay & Silent Bob, Carrie Fisher, Kelly Rutherford (as Cotton’s girlfriend), and Heather Matarazzo (as Randy’s sister). There’s even a special guest appearance by Jamie Kennedy as Randy, who let’s us in on the rules that govern the final installment of a trilogy. And, as it should be, everyone in the film does a great (or good) job.
The presentation is once again great: the sound, the cinematography, the anamorphic widescreen, it’s all good. The scares were really great too; I found myself caring more and more about these characters as the film’s progressed, so by this point I was really scared when a character I really liked was attacked (even though most of the cast in this movie is new to the series). As I mentioned before, the violence and gore in 3 is toned down a bit, but not too much, so there’s still plenty of great death scenes and chase sequences. Marco Beltrami’s score is at its best here, being more haunting and moody then ever before.
The one thing I really want to talk about is 3‘s script. As far as story is concerned, it’s actually really good, but as far as dialogue and characterization is concerned, it has issues. The story genuinely entertained me, keeping my interest throughout. Some of the dialogue, and its delivery, was either a little silly or awkward at times. In fact, this seems to be Scream 3‘s other biggest flaw: it’s too silly. From some of the acting to some of the events that occur, 3 has more then its share fair of silly moments. But of course, there are plenty of good things in 3, too; I really liked the psychological aspect of the story (which I won’t reveal) and the film’s self aware humor is still around, flaunting it self wherever it can.
Things of note: Scream 3 never seems to mention the events of Scream 2, making it almost seem as though Scream 2 either A) Never happened or B) Happened a long time ago (which, given the film’s three year gap between 2, makes some amount of sense). This isn’t anything too unusual, however, since certain trilogies do do this, so I was okay with it. Sidney’s character doesn’t show up as much this time around, so we get to see more of the new cast and the love-hate chemistry between Dewey and Gale (which is never really boring). I really liked the new characters (especially Dempsey) and they all seemed to be varied enough to warrant different types of personalities; the one thing most of the new cast has in common, however, is that most of them either play actors or movie makers. The blend of reality and fantasy doesn’t seem to be too apparent this time around, but the film is just as self aware as ever, so I would still say the film plays around with reality and fantasy to some degree.
While it isn’t as good as its predecessors, Scream 3 still manages to deliver wonderful scares, great performances, comedic self aware satire, and an excellent conclusion to the “trilogy.” If nothing else, Scream 3 is terrific entertainment that just aims to be fun and enjoyable. But probably the most rewarding thing about Scream 3 is that it reminded me of what the Scream franchise really is: a series of slasher movies, with a touch of satire.