Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Scream 3 (2000)

Scream 3 (USA, 2000) - Color, Director(s): Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 116 min.

Z-rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 4 stars out of 5

Judging by the poster above, it's apparent they intended Scream to be a trilogy. Historically, the third installments in trilogies have typically been the weakest. This could be attributed to the once fresh ideas of the original film(s) getting stale by the third one or maybe the quality of the films are actually diminishing because studios are only concerned with squeezing more money out of the franchise. Whether you're talking about The Godfather: Part III, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Alien 3, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3, or The Matrix Revolutions, third films seem to be universally despised. Of course, there are exceptions but unfortunately Scream 3 just doesn't seem to be one of them. With the lowest box office earnings (at the time) of the franchise, and less than flattering reviews from audiences and critics alike, the film seemed like a lackluster end to what is probably the best slasher franchise of the 90's. But did it really deserve all of the negative reviews it got?

Kevin Williamson originally wrote outlines for each of the sequels when he was shopping the script around for the original Scream, trying to sell it as a franchise rather than a standalone film. Unfortunately, Williamson was unavailable by the time this movie went into production so Ehren Kruger was brought in to write the script (what is up with Wes Craven and the name Kruger?). Now, I'm not saying that he's directly responsible for how the film turned out, but Kruger dumped many of Williamson's notes when writing the script. Williamson is the creator of these characters and it's his story, I just wonder if straying too far from what he envisioned didn't attribute to how poorly the film was received. (Fun fact: Kruger is most recently known for writing the last 3 of the 4 Transformers movies)

So this movie centers around the filming of Stab 3, the movies based on the "real life" murders in Scream. Only now, someone is killing the actors in the order they die in the script. Dewey (David Arquette) is a technical adviser on the film and Gale (Courtney Cox) is brought in by the police to help investigate the murders. Sidney is now living a secluded lifestyle, working as a crisis counselor over the phone, so she doesn't really interact with the rest of the cast until half-way through the movie. The killer stepped up his game this time around with a voice changer that can imitate the voices of other people. I will admit it was fun to see the characters interact with the actor who are playing them, like Gale shares a lot of screen time with Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey) who constantly insists her version of Gale would smarter or better than the "real" one. In the finale, it is revealed that the killer has a deep connection with Sidney. Even being personally responsible for influencing Billy Loomis (the killer in the first film) to target Sidney, setting the events of the entire franchise in motion, and is also the one who really killed Sidney's mother, Maureen Prescott, the crime Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) spent a year in jail for.

If you like looking for cameos, a few of recognizable faces turn up. Roger Corman plays a studio exec on the set of Stab 3, Carrie Fisher is a studio archivist who "looks like" Fisher and was also up for the part of Leia, and none other than Jay and Silent Bob are a part of the studio tour. I don't mean Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes but the characters of Jay and Silent Bob (The following year, Jay and Silent Bob stumble onto the set of the then-fictional 'Scream 4' in their own movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). Other recognizable faces with slightly larger roles include Jenny McCarthy, Lance Henriksen, and Patrick Warburton. There's also some fun stuff in the dialogue like when they're trying to figure out who the killer might be going after next but can't because "there are three different versions of the script to prevent it from ending up on the internet." Which is funny because there were originally going to be four killers in Scream 2 but the script leaked on the internet, revealing the identity of the killers and a large chunk of the plot so Kevin Williamson was forced to rewrite the script after filming had started. And even though this is supposed to be the final film of the trilogy, they symbolically leave the door open at the end.

Pictured: Not Carrie Fisher

Nudity: None. A woman is shown getting out of the shower but Craven never shows us the goods!

Look who's back! Sorta...

Gore: In response to the Columbine massacre, the violence in the film was significantly reduced, so they were going for more humor than blood. I can understand being sensitive to the issue but in a slasher film, reducing the amount of violence can be a huge misstep. 

Awesome: They tried for a hat trick here but it seems they weren't quite able to pull it off. Overall, I don't think Scream 3 was a bad movie but maybe not the ending the trilogy deserved. Yes, all the cameos and self-aware jokes are a lot of fun but it's not enough to make this an underrated classic. I will say the Scream franchise has some solid continuity, which you don't usually see in horror movies. One of the killers in Scream 2 was Billy Loomis' mother who wants revenge for the death of her son. The Greek letter necklace that Sidney's boyfriend gave her in the second movie sets off a metal detector in this one. Overall, I don't think this film was the disaster some people make it out to be but the biggest strike against it is cutting down on the gore and violence. If Columbine was such a concern, maybe they should've held back on releasing a slasher film rather than watering it down. And if they were going to do that, they could've at least had the decency to throw in some gratuitous nudity or something.

For the official trailer, click here: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1050478105/