Originally written for The Occidental.
“Scream” was a bitingly funny look at horror movies. “Scream 2” proved its self-stated rule that sequels suck by just being a plain slasher flick instead of satire. And now we have “Scream 3,” the final chapter in the extremely popular trilogy. As with many trilogies, it’s better than the middle film but not as good as the first.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) spent “Scream” being stalked by a psychopath who killed her friends and tried very hard to kill her. In “Scream 2” Sidney not only had to deal with another killer but with a movie based on her life: “Stab,” based on the events of “Scream” and starring Tori Spelling as Sidney.
Fed up with being stalked, she’s moved to a nice little cabin in the middle of nowhere with lots of alarms, and is going by a new name. Unfortunately, someone thinks it’s time for her to come out of hiding, and is murdering the cast members of “Stab 3” to get her attention. The survivors of “Scream 2,” Dewey (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox Arquette), and Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), are back and naturally, they’re right in the thick of the danger.
The rest of the film is pretty straightforward. You meet characters, and they die. Unfortunately, this means that very little effort is put into making most of the characters believable, even the ones who don’t get killed within fifteen minutes of their introduction. The actors do quite decent jobs with what they are given (Parker Posey’s performance as the actress playing Gayle Weathers in “Stab 3” is absolutely brilliant), but they aren’t given much beyond snappy dialog. There are plenty of in-jokes and laughs, some decent fights (it’s nice to see victims fighting back instead of screaming helplessly), and a couple of really creepy scenes, but not much else.
As a stand-alone film, “Scream 3” isn’t too bad. It does assume that you’ve seen the first two films, but is otherwise a fairly simple slasher movie.
Taken as a member of the trilogy, however, “Scream 3” definitely suffers from comparison to its predecessors. “Scream” mocked the horror movie genre; “Scream 2” and “Scream 3” are just hip horror flicks. While “Scream 3” is funnier than its immediate predecessor, the vaunted revelation at the end is neither surprising nor particularly impressive, and raises more questions than it answers.
The bottom line is, if you liked “Scream” and thought “Scream 2” was okay, “Scream 3” is fun enough to be worth the $5.50 it’ll cost you for a student ticket at AMC. But if you haven’t seen the first two, hit the video store. “Scream” is much better.