Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox Arquette, Parker Posey, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Matthew Keeslar, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Deon Richmond, Patrick Warburton, Liev Schreiber, and Carrie Fisher Directed by Wes Craven. Written by Ehren Kruger, based on characters by Kevin Williamson. Running time: 116 minutes. Rated R (for strong horror violence and language).
“Scream 3” is not as satisfying as the original horror masterpiece “Scream,” but what can we expect from the final chapter in a slasher trilogy? The first film was a superior horror thriller–one of the most loved slasher movies of the past decade. That was a picture with some hard standards to live up to. However, Wes Craven, director of the trio, accomplished another success with the sequel of “Scream.” Usually this kind of movie would fade into the Hollywood recycle bin by now. But “Scream 3” still produces chills, thrills, and lots of surprises–even though we have been receiving the same kind of story for the past four years. This film is marginally passable, although the most flawed film of its series, that fairs as recommendable, but not substantial in quality.
The film’s opening once again provides the audience with a pre-credit murder sequence that is almost the highlight of the entire production. The “Scream 3” writers take advantage of one of the movie’s old and important characters to arrange this very effective, and scary, sequence.
The setting is several years after the second film. The small college town of Woodsboro is where we are placed. Neve Campbell again stars as Sidney Prescott, a tormented young woman who was the target of the killing sprees in the past. She has attempted to move on with her life with her father, and has an anonymous hotline operation that offers assistance to those in need. Also, television reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox Arquette) has experienced a big career jump, now working for a network called Total Entertainment. While the wrongly accused murder suspect of Sidney’s mother, Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), has his own trashy TV talk show.
The central presence that connects the events here is the production of “Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro,” a movie the characters are creating that follows a horror trilogy based on the terrors experienced by Sydney. The masked murderer may or may not be found on the set. Besides police Detective Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey), and the arrogant bodyguard Stone (Patrick Warburton), concluding the list of suspects, there is Dewey Riley (David Arquette), a former cop who is now an advisor for “Stab 3,” Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), the film’s director, John Milton (Lance Henriksen) the film’s producer, as well as acting counterparts Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy), Tom Prinze (Matthew Keeslar), Angelina (Emily Mortimer), Gabe Tucker (Deon Richmond), and Gales’s reciprocal (Parker Posey).
Certain plot points lead our suspicion to believe one of several characters is the killer. We are fooled again, however. But does the killer’s identity really matter here? As long as we receive a speech on why he or she is responsible, we would be satisfied and any of the character’s could have been the killer. None of the characters have any shape or construction. We care only about the order that the victims will be picked off at, not about who hides behind the ghost mask. The identity is actually pointless when the slasher is finally revealed.
Once again, a key success in “Scream 3” is the scary sequences that build up momentum and thus work well, usually where the slasher kills his victims. What makes these scenes so effective is how we know that characters are three dimensional; they put up a firm fight for their lives, unlike victims in most slasher films. However, the plot seems to revolve around the murders, instead of the murders branching off from the story. “Stab 3” seems to be a central presence to connect the film’s somewhat desperate through line.
Some of the plot points are fun and revealing. We see a videotape of a past character describing the possibilities of the movie’s final outcome. This event programs our imaginations to suspect the unexpected. The plot does desperately attempt to fill in missing pieces of the previous screams, however, showing some signs of contrived foreshadowing. Each scene moves the story forward, though, replenishing the plot with freshness and ability around every abrupt corner.
“Scream 3” is a close call, and is given somewhat of a mixed review, but I still am giving the movie a marginal recommendation. It contains more startles, more surprises, and more effective scary material than most slasher movies. Although I believe it was a wise move to make this film the final installment of its series.
Brought to you by Dimension Films.