Review: “Scream 3”

The first “Scream” still remains one of the definitive movies of the 90’s. It single-handedly helped restart the horror genre which had been fizzling since the mid-80’s, it plaid a major part in creating the current crop of teen flicks, and has been ripped off by countless independent filmmakers – to top it off it was a superb movie.

But like the rules it sprouts, sequels to films are almost always inferior to their original with the noted exception of the sci-fi genre (“Aliens”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan”) or movies which can be serialised (eg. Bond movies).

“Scream 2” was a better-than-average sequel and entertaining in and of itself, it still didn’t work as well. Whereas in the first one the self-referential humour was sharp and fresh and some of the scares actually did work, this time around the jokes seem passe and the scares were far more predictable.

Now we come to the third chapter of the series which is about as good as the second (maybe a little weaker), though is in fact a surprisingly different style of movie than the first two. “Scream 3” plays far more like a thriller than a horror/comedy movie, and has a much heavier emphasis on plot than the previous films. Subsequently the scares are scarce (sorry for the pun) and the humour is practically non-existent save for the occasional weak one-liner.

The change of writers from Kevin Williamson to Ehren Krueger (“Arlington Road”) has had a visible impact with Krueger’s skill at working mysterious plots with a twist ending proving to be a benefit, but consequently missing Williamson’s deft touch of great satire and dialogue.

On the downside the attempts at humour and digs at the industry are very pale, making “Bowfinger” look like a savage attack at Hollywood in comparison, while many of the new characters are easily forgettable. On the upside, the big ending revelation ties in the series quite well together and while not as shocking as say the ‘two-killer concept’ in the first “Scream”, it’s a vast improvement over the horrible “Scream 2” ending.

While the ending is good though, it’s the opening sequences of the first two “Scream” films which were truly touches of genius, but this time around the opening involving Cotton Weary and his girlfriend is probably the weakest of any teen horror movie in recent history. Campbell has probably her least amount of screen time yet, but it does allow some of the other characters to shine. The two Arquettes have really great chemistry and it sizzles on the screen as both provide most of the humour to the story.

Of the newcomers its Parker Posey who’ll probably be the most remembered as the actress playing Gale Weathers, and her scenes with Courteney are cool. Scott Foley, Patrick Dempsey and Jenny McCarthy do well with their screen time, while most of the others like Keeslar, Mortimer & Henrikssen all have only a disappointing few scenes with not much to say.

On the other hand the cameos are great with Jay & Silent Bob making an appearance, and Carrie Fisher doing a fantastic bit as an actress rejected for the part of Princess Leia. For those thinking this ‘lighter’ entry would make a good time to come into the series – don’t. “Scream 3” is very plot heavy and convoluted, and even if you’ve seen the first two several times you’ll still have trouble following it unless you’ve watched them again very recently.

After starting off with a bang, this horror franchise seems to be ending on an enjoyable, yet sad fizzle. It overcomes some problems inherent to the series, but lacks a lot of what it was built on – scares and laughs. Fans will enjoy, but will be to confusing for newcomers and lacks scares for horror buffs.