Scream 3 (2000)
Release Date: February 4th, 2000 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Wes Craven Actors: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Liev Schreiber, Kelly Rutherford, Patrick Dempsey, Lance Henriksen, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, David Arquette
lthough the “Scream” series has thus far rather comprehensively mocked the generic nature of horror movies, the one staple of the genre it has ignored is obligatory sex or nudity. “Scream 3” doesn’t find an opportunity to address that situation, instead targeting all the exact same areas the previous two films parodied. The bloody violence is back, the foolishly contrived chase and murder sequences return, stereotypical characters are included, all of the leading stars have been secured, and the dialogue is just as dippy as ever.
Cotton Weary (Live Schreiber), formerly accused of murder (twice), is now a talk show host. He’s also the new target of a familiar phone prank, while his girlfriend Christine (Kelly Rutherford) is the next prey for yet another copycat Ghost Face killer. And Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is somehow still at the heart of it all, despite having moved far enough away to avoid the publicity of surviving two separate serial killing sprees by the Loomis family.
Meanwhile, “Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro” is currently filming, allowing for Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who now works for Total Entertainment, to be reunited with one-time wannabe lover Dewey (David Arquette) on the set. Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy), an actress in “Stab 3” and the first to die in the screenplay, is the first actual victim of the new Ghost Face. The theory this time around is that the murderer is mimicking the deaths in the movie, killing the actors in order. The twist is that there are three separate rewrites circulating – and in each one, a different character is killed off next. Ghost Face is also changing the script as the movie progresses, managing to deliver altered pages to the victims so they can read about the setups to their own demises.
When word reaches Sydney of two murders related to actors in “Stab 3,” which is subsequently shut down, she realizes that the nightmare isn’t over. The new killer is once again drawn to her and is symbolically executing key players. Sydney’s mother, Maureen, is also tied into the mystery, as her photos are left at each crime scene. But with so much experience thwarting the maniac and enduring attempted murder at knifepoint, she’s barely phased, capable of laughing off menacing phone calls and death threats with ease. From beyond the grave, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is able to add a few more points to the horror movie rulebook: the past will come back to haunt the present, the main characters are vulnerable for the first time because this third part marks the conclusion to a trilogy, and the villain is likely to be superhuman.
With the introduction of ghastly dream sequences – some of which are reminiscent of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” – “Scream 3” actually becomes just the tiniest bit scarier than its predecessors. Jumpy moments are prevalent, gore is plentiful, characters continually split up or try to combat Ghost Face unarmed, and spontaneous attacks keep originating from the most unlikely of places. There is also an abundance of red herrings and humorous or doltish dialogue, along with repetitious slapstick masked as suspenseful confrontation – characters fall down stairs, roll off roofs, or crash through windows.
But what is most confusing is the killer’s new trick with using voice manipulating devices to imitate various characters in the movie – as well as switching between male and female voices on a whim. He/she also has a never-ending supply of knives. And this series has a never-ending supply of lengthy exposition and last-minute revenge relationships that tie together Sydney and Ghost Face, who is purposely the least likely participant in the picture. Audiences can only hope that this is indeed the finale to a closed trilogy.
– Mike Massie