Scream 3 (2000)
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Ehren Kruger, Kevin Williamson
Starring: Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emily Mortimer, Jamie Kennedy, Lance Henriksen, Liev Schreiber, Neve Campbell, Parker Posey, Patrick Dempsey, Roger Corman, Scott Foley
And so it comes to an end! With the April 15th Premiere date looming large and all horror fans getting excited, Ross Hughes has spent the last few days looking back on the original Scream Trilogy before the 4th movie hits the screens. He now reaches the year 2000, and what we told was the final chapter of the much loved saga! The one where Sydney Prescott finally gets the answers she has been looking for, where the movie itself makes a huge mistake in its usual reference to other horrors, where a long dead character returns from the grave with a not so clever cameo, yes its the much criticised Scream 3, a sequel that many do not rate, and does not have the same love as its previous two! Does the film deserve the tarnished reputation it suffers from? Well grab a cuppa and see what Hughes thinks as in the words of Stu “Its gonna be fun!”
HCF REWIND SPECIAL-A LOOK BACK ON SCREAM part 3 By Ross Hughes
“If this killer does come back and he’s for real, there are a few things that you gotta remember. Is this simply another sequel? Well if it is, same rules apply. But-here’s the critical thing-if you find yourself dealing with an unexpected back story and a preponderance of exposition, then the sequel rules DO NOT apply. Because you are not dealing with a sequel, you are dealing with the concluding chapter of a trilogy. That’s right, it’s a rarity in the horror field but it does exist, and it is a force to be reckoned with. Because true trilogies are all about going back to the beginning and discovering something that wasn’t true from the get go, Jedi, all revealed something that we thought was true that wasn’t true. So if it is a trilogy you are dealing with, here are some super trilogy rules: 1. You got a killer who’s going to be super human. Stabbing him won’t work. Shooting him won’t work. Basically in the third one you gotta cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up. 2. Anyone including the main character can die. This means you Syd. I’m sorry. It’s the final chapter. It could be fucking ‘Reservoir Dogs’ by the time this thing is through. Number 3. The past will come back to bite you in the ass. Whatever you think you know about the past, forget it. The past is not at rest. Any sins you think were committed in the past are about to break out and destroy you”
Randy- Scream 3
The start of the new Millennium saw a film came out that made all horrors fan spit in rage. A rushed story with no thought or substance, a sequel that had nothing in common with what made the original gain so much love that even now many dismiss it and refuse to believe it exists. Ok, that’s enough about Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the year 2000 was a mixed bunch for the genre. Ginger Snaps which for this HorrorCult Critic is probably the best Werewolf film ever made, was rudely ignored at the box-office, Dracula 2000 was tipped to be the start of a new franchise in which we are still waiting for, while J-Horror was already beginning to take effect with the likes of The Gift showing signs that horror, like The Sixth Sense a year before, was going into a new direction!
The Slash boom was coming to an end. Scream which like Halloween before it, caused the market to flood with Knock Off’ of the same template and history was repeating itself but only quicker, because already fans were getting tired of these inferior films. The I Know What You Did films were already stunned by the dismal takings of its first sequel, while Urban Legend 2 was critically mauled on its release! The rapidly increasing straight to video/DVD market was full of slash films like The Clown At Midnight, and Cut, the later one seeing Kylie Minogue being killed off in the first ten minutes! The hard core fans were in their element with so much choice, but while Scream managed to bridge the two audience together, the mainstream were beginning to fade away and horror needed something different. Knowing this, the studio decided to say goodbye to the Ghostface saga by creating the third and supposed to be final chapter, the intention was, for a film that re-started the slash, would finish it, with a tremendous finale!
Sadly though things did not start well. While Wes Craven deft direction is a major plus to the franchise, it is the writing skills of Kevin Williamson that makes the franchise stand out proud from the rest! The first two Scream films were a lavish love letter to a genre he loved, and when it was announced he would be taking no part for the last chapter there were sighs of despair. Even yours truly was gob smacked even though it was said later on that the film would use “ideas!” that Williamson put to paper! The reason for this is more tame than you may think! There was no uproar, no fighting behind the scenes in what direction the third film would take, instead it was Williamson himself who walked away! Simply because it was a moment in his life where he was just to damn busy! Working on so many projects made impossible for him to even contemplate writing the script, at that time his writing skills were put to the test on a short lived TV show Wastelands and he was also directing his first movie, the major flop Teaching Mrs Tingle! It was probably the most pivotal moment in the history of this franchise and even now I am still stunned that he did not want to finish off the film series which he started! With Williamson gone, the job was left to Ehren Kruger whose previous writing produced the twisty turn Arlington Road in which the final act gob smacking twist made him a suitable candidate for the horror franchise!
The departure of Williamson though was just the start of a production that caused severe headache for everyone involved! While the lead writer was a stunning miss, news that Neve Campbell may not star in it, caused even more headlnes! Her work in TV show Party Of Five and two other features, put her casting in great doubt, but her agent managed to broker a deal that so her film her scenes for 20 days only!, an impossible postion for Kruger and Wes who knew that their leading star can only star in what would seem like an extended cameo. Like Williamson, this role had a major effect on the finished film!
By the time shooting began, the script was not even finished! Total chaos reigned on the set, with each actor turning up not knowing what they were supposed to do! R
umours to this day persist that the day would start with Craven, Kruger and the rest of the staff would meet up in the early hours to discuss what to shoot next! Any ideas put forward would be agreed and poor old Kruger only had a few hours to write up the scene before filming was due to shoot! It was insane and totally ridicolus that a film of such high statue would be in so much dissary! This was not the way to plan for a film to end all films, and the fact that Scream 3 was released to not much critical acclaim and to a cold reaction from many of its fans, showed that there was a total lack of respect when making this film! A sense of “no matter what we shoot, they will come!” engulfed the entire making of it and while they came in numbers, many left with a bitter aftertaste….but is Scream 3 the disaster that many make out? Hmmm lets see!
The film does not start well! Without question the begining pales in comparason to parts one and two where we first saw Drew Barrymore bite the bullet and then Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps get their desserts at a packed cinema! While those were bristling with energy, wit and originalty, the third smacks of seen it all before! The lack of a famous cameo bites hard, instead we are faced with a series regular meeting Ghostface dying despite having survived the first two encounters! Its here that the formula already seems tired and lazy! It comes off like a typical slash movie in which Scream once just to avoid, and it has a more serious tone to the proceddings that the playful angle which we came accumstomed too!
Once the regular suffers from the hands of this new masked killer, we get to see Sydney for the first time, in a brief shot in which she now lives up in the mountains, away from everyone where in simple terms, she can not be found! She passes her time away by working as a call girl! Oh don’t your teenage boys wish for that, in another terms, she works for a Women’s Crisis line, giving out adivce over the phone to those in need! And that is it! We then skip Sydney and move to Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette) the other last remaining survivours of the previous events! Now at this time, this proves to be unsettling for the long time fan of the series! Not because that its a scare fest but the shift in tone because no matter how good the two characters are for Scream, the story was never about these two, yes they served the purpose really well, but in terms of plot and development they were nothing more than back up to the story! Looking back at the first two, Gale and Dewey vanish for large amount of time with the story always being about the survival of Sydney, but with the roles reveresed its quite hard to get around!
The one scene that sums up the change of concept is the ill judged “dream” sequence that feels so out of place for a Scream movie! While we skip back to Sydney for a brief moment, we see the ghostly figure of her dead mum walking through the garden up to the window and starts talking to her daughter in what is supposed to be a kind of J Horror spin to the story! But it all feels wrong! I remember watching for the first time with a bunch of friends when one whispered “this does not feel like a Scream movie” and none of us there disagreed! Of course Sydney wakes up from the dream but for me its the moment that the franchise “jumped the shark!”, there was no going back for this third movie which became nothing more than the kind of film that Scream was invented to take the mick out of!
Plot wise, the film is set in the land of Hollywood where the killer has targeted the crew of the new Stab 3 -Return To Woodsboro, the second sequel to the film we saw being played in the cinema of Scream 2. That film of course being about the events of the first Scream so again we have the once quite clever film within a film approach. It sounds confusing writing it here, but if you have watched all the previous films, then you understand where the third is going! While the idea this time is not as clever has before, the gag already running seriously thin, there are some nice touches! I actually like Parker Posey playing Gale Weathers from the Stab movies. When she and the real Gale team up, it brings some great banter between the two, and I love the fact that Posey manages to create the same character traits that Cox herself bought to the role! The others are a mish mash which bring a sheer sense of frustration. Emily Mortimer is wasted has Sydney from Stab, in fact she is totally forgettable through out while Jenny McCarthy overacts too much to be taken seriously. Playing a character that she is obviously to old to play, in the film Stab 3 and in the real film (its supposed to be a tongue in cheek joke) she manages to even get a film question wrong and to this very day I do not know if it was intentional or a serious gaff by the stressed out writers! When she is on the phone complaining about a shower scene she has to film, she moans that “the whole shower scene as been done- Hello Vertigo” when of course every horror fan will tell you that it is in fact Psycho!
The most unforgiving aspect to the entire show is the actors themselves. Not so much the newbie’s who seem thrilled to be in a well loved show, but the old regulars. Both Cox and Arquette to even Campbell when she finally turns up after 49 minutes into the film, all look as if they want to be somewhere else! Their body language suggests they are just going through the motions, a contract obligation they had to fulfil! This claim of mine must go towards Craven too, the man behind the camera who not once manages to create a set-piece of tension which harks back to the car crash scene of the 2nd and Drew’s phone call from the original. You can not even call Scream 3 an horror film because the slasher moments are so brief and lack any bit of excitement, that it makes a mockery of the whole show at times! It does have an overwhelming feel that everyone here just wants to be done with it and move on with their lives!
Its not all a disaster! The third probably does have the best in joke of them all when Carrie Fisher turns up and makes a sly sex joke about George Lucas. We also get a Jay and Silent Bob cameo and one inspirational scene of when the real Sydney stumbles upon the Woodsboro film set personally created for Stab 3 and visits her old lookalike bedroom. The voice of Billy Loomis echoes in the w
ind and it is a real great moment, one of the best of the series that demonstrates how far the series has come! We also have some nice gag references with the names of the characters, as the likes of Jennifer Jolie and Angelina Tyler being a combination of well known real Hollywood stars. While the cop Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) name is taken from a character in Nightmare and Elm St 3! There is also a moment where a long dead character returns from the grave to give warning to Sydney on the peril she faces! This moment again divided the fans and for me it was a step to far in the joke stage and comes across pointless and contrived that takes the humour way past tongue in cheek. That and the “dead mother ghost!” are two scenes that make me have ill feeling towards this third part!
There is not much fun with the guessing game either! Scream 3 fails to build on the tension of “who could it be!” like the original two, with too many characters not memorable enough and when the reveal comes, there be more likely a sigh of “is that it!” than being totally stunned by the outcome! Even here the third seriously comes to damaging the original with a needless back story that makes a mockery of the first film killers! Its not clever to play with the first film story-line and its lucky Craven just manages to get away with it. The problem with this idea is that the killer is not familiar to the fans of the series. If it was someone long associated with the story, then it may have worked out better, but the unmasking is tame and when they rant on and on its Sydney who says “enough of this shit already, I have heard it all before!” and you the viewer will be thinking just the same!
All good trilogies deserve a fourth, and while Scream 3 may leave a bitter aftertaste for many fans, it could serve has the wake up call to all involved! This was not the final farewell blast that was expected, and with the impending fourth set for release this very week…..maybe this will follow the likes of Rocky Balboa, in mindset an unnecessary sequel that stuns the cinema world by being a film that could not have been better!
This Scream fanatic lives in hope!….