Scream 3

Directed by Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Parker Posey, Patrick Dempsey, Lance Henrikson, Scott Foley, Liev Schreiber, and the voice of Roger L. Jackson.
MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence and language.

Review by Matt Heffernan
February 4, 2000

The release of Wes Craven's third (and presumably final) entry of his Scream series is the widest ever for an opening weekend. In an effort to keep the film's plot as secret as possible, there were no advance screenings open to the public. This reminds me of Hitchcock's Psycho, which wasn't screened to anybody outside the studio until its opening. Of course, Hitch changed all the rules and invented the modern horror film. Forty years later, the best we can get is a re-explanation of the "new" rules -- yet again.

Instead of describing the plot, I shall merely give a "where are they now" synopsis of the characters, so as to not upset Craven's intent. Cotton Weaver (Liev Schrieber), the suspected killer from before the action of the first film, is now the host of a popular talk show: "100% Cotton." He also has a cameo appearance as himself in Stab 3, a fictional sequel to the films based on the "real life" action of the first two Scream films. Dewey Riley (David Arquette), the once-heroic deputy, is now the technical adviser on Stab 3. Weather-girl-turned-local-anchor Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) is now the host of the national show "Total Entertainment."

And then there's the often-harassed Sidney (Neve Campbell). With nearly all of her friends killed off, she has taken refuge in Monterey, working for the California Women's Crisis Counseling service. She's still paranoid about copy-cat killers, but with good reason. People working on Stab 3 are getting killed off, and the screenplay seems to be the guiding force.

Hey, wait a minute! Craven's done this before in New Nightmare, except that film was actually scary. Like Scream 2, Scream 3 is just a pedestrian re-hash of the original. I think making Music of the Heart made Craven turn soft. Luckily, an intelligent screenplay by Ehren Kruger (Arlington Road) bails him out. It's really too intelligent for the intended teen crowd, which actually hurts the film. They want to be thrilled, not taught about even more finer points of horror film clichés.

What does help the film is a typically brilliant performance from Parker Posey, who plays the actress playing Gale in the Stab trilogy. She is really too good for this film, and couldn't possibly be appreciated by most of the audience. Compare this to the typically mindless performance by Jenny McCarthy who plays -- you guessed it -- a buxom bimbo that simply must die.

If Hitch were alive, we'd both be wondering why the horror genre has never advanced since 1960. Sure, the Production Code no longer censors the films, but with only the rarest exceptions they haven't really changed.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Scream 3 (2000)

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan