With “Scream 3”, they might have gone a little overboard with their meta-approach. I mean, we all know that it’s one of the unwritten rules of cinema that many last parts of a trilogy suck, or at least, aren’t quite as good as its predecessors (“Alien³”, “Back to the Future III”, “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”, “Matrix: Revolutions”, “The Godfather Part 3″… just to name a few). But instead of just pointing this out, and exploring why they sometimes suck, they instead went ahead and actually MADE a lackluster threequel that’s vastly inferior to the previous ones. 😕
Kidding aside (since I’m not really suggesting that they went ahead and made a bad sequel on purpose), “Scream 3” unfortunately falls short on so many levels. It’s difficult to figure out where to put the blame, but I think that the fact that Kevin Williamson didn’t return to write the script definitely is one of the main issues here. Whenever they try to be as clever as the first two, the mostly fall flat on their noses. For example, what made the first two so great when they analyzed the typical standards and tropes of horror films is that they were right, and evidently so. Even people who never really put that much thought into it probably had to concede that, yes, when people say “I’ll be right back”, they usually get killed, and the only ones surviving a typical slasher-movie are the pure and chaste ones. Here, however, they try to find rules about the last part of trilogies, and it all feels incredibly forced, and didn’t convince me at all. For example, all that stuff about revelations in the third one about something that happened in the original, which then kinda puts everything in a new light. Above, I’ve mentioned five threequels, and in none of them you’ll find something like that. And even if you might be able to find a couple of instances where something like that actually happened, for it to be a recognizable trope it would have to be far more common. I also didn’t like the way they gave the audience this information, via a videotape of a previously killed person. This also felt incredibly forced, and if they at least would have used a different character for that, it might have gone down with me more easily. But the way that it was, pretty much everything about it rubbed me the wrong way.
Ultimately, though, that’s just a side issue (even though the cleverness of the first two is sorely missed). Where “Scream 3” really drops the ball, though, is tone. Where “Scream” and “Scream 2” managed to be funny without turning into a straight-out comedy, this time the humor is far too predominant, giving the movie a tone that’s more in line with the “Scary Movie”-franchise than the “Scream”-series. It’s also very exaggerated, especially with the often completely hysteric reactions by Parker Posey and Emily Mortimer (it’s really too bad that they couldn’t get Tori Spelling back). And overall, there just was far too much humor and far too little tension in this one. Oh, and that Jay and Silent Bob cameo – what the fuck? After the great prologues of the first two movies, I was also very disappointed by the lackluster way this one started. That Ghostface can now simulate other people’s voices might have been a new idea – but in my book, it was a stupid idea, so no points there. I also didn’t like their flirt with the supernatural, even though it’s exposed as a misconception at the end (that’s another alleged threequel-rule that I couldn’t agree with: Don’t supernatural, unstoppable killers usually start out that way, or at least prove themselves to be pretty much immortal when returning in the sequel after a seemingly definite death in the first one?). Also, for the third time now, the motivation of the person behind the mask wasn’t wholly convincing. And I really wish they would have forgone that stupid way in which they connected the story here with the murder of Sydney’s mum – another terrible idea in a movie that, unfortunately, is full of them. But that was definitely one of the worst. Finally, while I already wasn’t big on the one final rise of the bad guy in the previous ones, I really wish they wouldn’t have done it yet another time here, since the moment right before that actually would have been a perfect way to end the movie (or at least that scene). It also would have been way more original, and – in a way – more surprising (since by then, everyone expected the killer to come back one last time).
It’s not all bad, though. Again, I very much liked the acting, and as much as I already liked her in the first two parts, but I really think that you can see Neve Campbell growing even better with each and every movie. They also did a good job again with casting, finding a couple of new talents that went ahead to far bigger roles afterwards. And I really loved the Carrie Fisher-cameo, so that was one of the gags that worked for me. I also liked the idea of Sydney working for a “women in crisis”-hotline. Despite my criticism of the aforementioned trilogy-rules presented here, there actually are a couple of nice observations and criticisms about Hollywood, like a 35-year-old woman playing a 21-year-old character, or John Milton’s line that it’s no place for the innocent. And apart from the aforementioned scene with the killer rising up once again, the ending of this movie was pretty much perfect. One of my favorite things about “Scream 3”, though, is the fact that instead of getting drawn into the proceedings, it’s more or less Sydney’s choice to get involved. Yes, that would have worked even better if the killer wouldn’t have called her (which implied that he might also know – or be able to find out – where she lives), but nevertheless, I really liked this, because the fact that she came to face this danger, instead of waiting for danger to find her, made the character much stronger. By far my favorite part of the movie, however, is the scene with Sydney in the studio, on the Woodsboro-set. That really was clever, and – in the way one set led into another – also had a surreal touch. It was the only really gripping moment of the entire movie, and the only scene where “Scream 3” managed to live up to its predecessors. Other than that, though, it’s a hugely disappointing sequel that would haven been a poor and unworthy conclusion to the series.