with Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox Arquette, David Arquette, Liev Schreiber, Kelly Rutherford, Patrick Dempsey, Lance Henriksen, Parker Posey, Matt Keeslar
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Ehren Kruger, Kevin Williamson
by Michael McCarthy
If I say much about the plot, I’m going to ruin some of Scream 3‘s delightful surprises. I went in knowing almost nothing and thoroughly enjoyed it; there are pleasant surprises around every corner. What I can safely tell you is that Scream 3 goes down in Hollyweird, while Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro is being filmed. It’s nearly four years since Sidney Prescott (Campbell) left Windsor College and now she’s isolated herself and her dog in Northern Cali, working under a pseudonym via telephone. The trouble starts when someone puts on the ghostface killer mask and starts the body count, triggering fear on the set of Stab 3 and bringing lots of questions about the original Woodsboro murders to the surface.
In the humor department, Scream 3 is much funnier than Scream 2 and probably even funnier than the first film (it’ll take repeat viewings for me to make that assessment). This is because many of the jokes in Scream 3 build on the jokes from the previous films, especially the first. If you’ve seen the previous films a few times, you’ll laugh so hard it’ll hurt. And if you haven’t, well, there are plenty of jokes, sight gags, and cameos that’ll make you bust a gut anyway. Matter of fact, I think the cameos in Scream 3 are funnier than those in the first film by far. The audience was clapping and cheering over a couple of them when I saw it. And I caught it at a press screening (it ain’t easy to make that crowd cheer).
The pacing of Scream 3 is very slick, thanks to director Wes Craven and writer Ehren Kruger (Reindeer Games). Where Scream 2 drags at times, especially when you’ve seen it more than once, 3 goes by as fast as Quentin Tarantino dialogue. And I know some people were worried that the convo wouldn’t be all that spicy with Scream and Scream 2 scribe Kevin Williamson only supplying some ideas or an outline this time around, but Kruger certainly keeps it in the vein of the previous films. He made it a bit more of a black comedy, versus a pop culture rundown, and that’s something he deserves applause for. As far as being scary goes, I flinched a couple times, no more, but it takes a tale of demonic possession to freak me out, so that doesn’t mean it’s not suspenseful; it certainly keeps ya guessing.
Performance-wise, there’s not much to be said about Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Liev Schreiber and Courteney Cox Arquette. They play their characters as they played them in the previous films, and they did a fine job making me laugh. It was like visiting old friends by this point. As far as the newcomers go, I must give props to Parker Posey. She plays the actress who’s playing Courteney Cox Arquette’s Gale Weathers in Stab 3 and she’s hilarious whenever she’s on screen. If you couldn’t stop laughing at her in The House of Yes or Waiting for Guffman, you’ll be in heaven. Other newcomers include Patrick Dempsey, Jenny McCarthy, Scott Foley (TV’s Felicity), Matt Keeslar (Splendor), and Lance Henriksen. I found Henriksen’s performance to be a little dry, but everyone else was entertaining enough. McCarthy and Foley were both jubilant as an actress and actor who take themselves a bit too seriously.
As far as the whole “trilogy” thing goes, Scream 3 is a better closing to Scream than The Godfather 3 was to The Godfather and Return of the Jedi was to Star Wars. It truly does bring plenty of things full circle and will give you a better appreciation for the first film and Kevin Williamson’s original three-flick vision. The only problem may be that it kind of makes Scream 2 seem pointless in retrospect because it has so much more to do with the plot of the first film than 2 did.