Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Ehren Kruger, Laeta Kalogridis
Remember Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell)? That fragile little girlie whose mom got gruesomely murdered a few years back, and who had to face the killer in the Ghostface costume herself as he came back to go after her friends and her in Woodsboro? Well, she killed him, but that wasn’t enough. When she went to college to study theater the next year, she had to face another violent maniac in a Ghostface costume, following the release of “Stab”, a movie based on what had previously happened to her. She killed that guy too, which made her feel a bit more safe, but not that much. As we meet with her again, she changed her name and became a recluse, living in a house in the woods and working anonymously from home as a women-in-crisis hotline social worker. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, they’re shooting “Stab 3”, and what do you know, another nutcase puts on a Ghostface costume and starts murdering the cast of the film, hoping to force Sidney out of her hiding. Why ? That’s only one of the mysteries that is to be solved through the film…
Even more than the first episodes, the third “Scream” movie is jam-packed with twists on top of twists, false turns, revelations, self-reflection and weird coincidences. Like, it’s directed by Freddy Krueger creator Wes Craven, and the screenwriter is “Arlington Road” scribe Ehren… Krueger! This supposedly last episode not only screws around with what we thought we knew about the characters and their past, but it also mixes in a satire Hollywood antics, as what we know about the making of the “Scream” franchise is exploited right into it. There is this pretty big controversy about how Miramax refused to let critics see the film in advance, fearing they would reveal the film’s surprises. Ah! Even if I wanted too, I could barely write an understandable plot summary of the film, that’s how complicated it is! But is it good? Well, it’s mildly entertaining and pretty clever sometimes, but it’s also tiresome and pointless. As I watched the plot going every which way but loose, sure, I was intrigued and didn’t know where it would go next, but many scenes mostly bored or irritated me.
Something I always hated with slasher movies is how they always seem to kill the most interesting characters to focus on the nice, boring ones. The main reason I think the original Scream was sooo cool was Randy, the video store movie-obssessed geek played by Jamie Kennedy. I just adore that character, maybe because I’m sorta kinda that kinda guy who obsesses a bit too much about movies. It was very fun and refreshing to have a character like that who knows how slasher movies work, caught inside a slasher movie and explaining the rules to the others. It made the film deligghtfully self-aware. But for some reason I can’t process, they fricking killed Randy in “Scream 2”. Don’t they understand that he’s the heart of the series ? His scenes were always the most kinetic, the ones that made “Scream” rise above its B-movie origins. He’s dead, now, but they found a nifty way to have him in the third film: his friends watch a tape he made before his death in which he explains the rules of movie trilogies. That scene is actually the funniest, coolest in the film, and one can only imagine how much more fun the whole thing would have been if Randy had been the main character.
But no, they had to focus on Sidney, the most bland and boring character in the world played by that most bland and boring actress, Neve Campbell. She has no presence, no warmth, no style… She’s that forgettable little Canadian brown-haired girl-next-door who plays that boring, why can’t-she-just-die chick who just cries and runs and whines and hides forever before her big moment at the end of each film in which she faces her fears and slays her enemy. She’s the main reason this film often feels dead, as opposed to the very alive parts that have the good sense of following people that are actually fun. For instance, I can’t tell you how wonderful and funny and hot Jenny McCarthy is in the film. I always loved her goofiness, and she’s cast perfectly as a voluptuous bimbo actress who’s in “Stab 3” only to be naked and get killed. Of course they have to kill her after two scenes, those morons. Come on! Just kill Neve Campbell already and have my girlfriend Jenny be the protagonist, and you would have had a cooler than thou picture.
The film remains watchable, if only for the more or less clever little pop culture in-jokes and pokes at Hollywood it throws here and there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so cynical and self-aware. The cast is like a who’s who of familiar faces. Besides Campbell, the film also brings back the couple formed by take-no-squat reporter Gale Weathers and dimwitted smalltown cop Dewey Riley, played by the now married in real life couple of Courtney Cox and David Arquette. And then there’s their “Stab 3” equivalents, most interestingly Parker Posey as the bitchy starlet who portrays Weathers in the film. There’s also a bodyguard to the stars played by Patrick Warburton, a horror movie producer played by Lance Henriksen in his best Wes Craven (director of all “Scream” movies), the movie’s extremely Quentin Tarantinoesque director played by Scott Foley, and cameos from B-movie producer Roger Corman, Carrie Fisher and even everyone’s favorite dopey duo, Silent Bob and Jay!
As it turns out, the “Scream” trilogy is really about itself. Creator Kevin Williamson is a big fan of slasher movies, and when he wrote his own, he followed the patterns but put a spin on them. And with the sequels, you see this big thing about the difference between the weirdo, egomaniac, money-crazy world of Hollywood sex and drugs parties, and real life. There’s an interesting diatribe through the movies about how movies don’t create psychos, they just make them more creative. If you kill someone it’s because you choose to do it, don’t try to put the blame on someone else or on the movies. But what makes the series less and less enthralling is how pointless what it revolves around is. Basically, it’s a series of scenes in which characters are called by the killer (they ALL have cell phones), and chased, and then stabbed. Pretty thin base for a whole trilogy. To give the filmmakers credit, they sure made the most out of it, what with all that films-within-films nonsense. “Scream 3” ain’t a movie, it’s an overwritten fanboy’s website. It has its moments, but it mostly falls flat. The first movie was a refreshing new take on the genre, but by the trilogy’s end, it’s back to its B roots despite the big cast and the sometimes witty insights.