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April 12, 2011

Scream Week: The Annotated Scream 3

Look guys, I can't be bothered to put too much thought into Scream 3.  It's been a long day, so I'm just gonna roll this stuff out.  Take all that follows with a grain of salt, and such.  This is The Mike in sleep mode.

The Set-Up:
Unwilling to leave the past behind after Scream 2 opened with the premiere of Stab - the self-referential horror film based on the events of Scream - Scream 3 takes place around the making of Stab 3.  Thus, I imagine Stab 2 was about the murders of Scream 2, and now Stab 3...well, Stab 3's just made up.  Hey, Fake Hollywood of Scream 3, I've got a message for you.  It goes something like this:


You've made two movies about copycat killers that are real in your world, and now you're gonna make a movie about a copycat killer which doesn't have a copycat killer that inspired it?  That's like offering a two for one sale on stupid.  You take advantage of two mass murderings, and then make one up just in case someone wants to copy it?  Tempting fate like a mofo, you are. 

Guess what? People start dying. Oh, and they look like the people from Scream, even though the people from Scream are in this movie too.  So it's all layered and stuff.  Let's get to the tale of the tape.
The Good:
  • First of all, I have to point out that Sidney Prescott's hair - particularly in her first scene - is pretty awesome.  I had a thing for Neve Campbell when Scream came out, and it faded a bit by Scream 2 and was forgotten by 3.  But the short cut with the red streaks...yeah.  I can dig it.
  • Also, Roger Corman shows up as a producer in an early scene.  Yep, that's awesome.
  • Patrick Dempsey's rocking the suit coat and jeans look in an early scene.  That takes guts.  I like him already.  (WHAT? These movies are all about looking hip, I gotta mention hair and clothes.  That's what the Scream era was all about - GAP ads with knives.)
  • Also from the "Oh, I just love her" files comes Emily Mortimer as faux-Sidney.  She looks better with age - and with her regular accent (oh, and she's a fantastic actress) - but seeing her as I look back makes me smile.  And her final scene is one of the film's better horror moments.
  • I'm slightly torn here, but I guess I'm gonna go ahead and call it good.  The scenes in which Sidney are haunted by her mother's "ghost" are at times fantastic (and at other times cheesy).  But the moment when she's on the phone with what sounds like her mother and is instructed to "Do what mother tells you!" gives me a Norman Bates smile.
  • Self-referential Carrie Fisher cameo?  I'm going to allow it.
  • Best line of the flick, which comes from the mouth of Jenny McCarthy "The shower scene's been done! I mean, hello? Vertigo!"
Jenny McCarthy is serious bidness.
 The Somewhere Between Good & Bad:
  • I can't decide whether I love the fact that Jenny McCarthy is in this or whether I'm annoyed by it.  I can't help that I was a mid-teenager when Singled Out was cool.  My dad made us go to a mall department store where she was doing an appearance once, and I did not complain. (I did, however, roll my eyes at the middle-aged Iowan housewives who were awestruck by how glamorous she was.)
  • The actors who play actors in this movie seem to really struggle with presenting human characters.  Are they going too far for parody, or are they just so bad at acting that they can't play an actor? I'm looking at you, Matt Keeslar.  And you, Deon Richmond.  And don't even look at me, Parker Posey.  You make me angry.
  • Teasing us with a glimpse of Randy Meeks? NOT COOL.  That's like offering a meth addict free cough medicine.  You shoulda let Heather Matarazzo take over, she's cool.  On second thought....I love Randy.  So maybe it was OK....
  • Dewey looks really constipated.  But, the dude had a rough few years, so I guess a bit of bloat isn't the worst thing that could have happened.
 The BAD:
  • I'm not torn about only getting a small taste of Cotton Weary.  I EFFING HATE THAT. Cotton Weary in Scream 2 was the absolute perfect counterpoint to Sidney Prescott.  He's a victim, he's a survivor...but he's a snaky one who's kind of intimidating.  And now he's gone in the first 8 minutes?  That's not 100% Cotton, that's %3 Cotton.  And that, my friends, SUCKS.
  • I don't know why, but having Sidney working as a survivor girl hotline lady is just a bit off for my tastes.  It comes into play in the finale, and she does deliver a nice bit of wisdom when face to face with the killer that must have come from her job, but it's an odd choice for someone who twice previously hid from drama and is living as a near hermit.
  • Gale's hair looks weird.  
  • The use of Red Right Hand is just not as cool as it was in Scream.  Or Scream 2. Or - especially - Hellboy.  And I LOVE Red Right Hand.  But I want REAL RED RIGHT HAND!!!!!!!
  • Hey, I got an idea. Let's cast Lance Henriksen.  Let's call his character John Milton, give him two scenes, then shove him in a closet.  Oh wait, that's a bad idea.  Glad SOMEBODY noticed.
  • Go away, Parker Posey.  You annoy me greatly.
 The Best Thing About Scream 3:
There are some surprisingly powerful moments in Scream 3 that surround Sidney Prescott - including a final shot that I love to mentally analyze - but none are better than when she comes face to face with the replica of her teenage home and the fateful party house from the original film/her hometown of Woodsboro.  The confrontation with the killer that occurs on this set works because it is well-shot, but it also works on a deeper level as Sidney seems to try to convince herself that there's nothing to fear in this artificial world that has been created to mimic her past home, the memory of which has been forever tainted by treacherous events gone by. The film needed to spend more time reminding us of the small town that once held terror, and less time trying to convince us Hollywood backlots and mansions are filled with characters we should be interested in.
The Worst Thing About Scream 3:
A GAS EXPLOSION?  That's right.  Not only does our Ghostface killer rig a gas explosion to off one character - out of a potential five that were in the scene - but he accurately predicts that a) all but one person will leave the house before reading his mysterious fax messages (Wait, Ghostface used a fax machine??); b) the person who stayed to read the message would not be able to read in the same amount of bright moonlight that other characters had no trouble reading in; and c) the remaining character would thus go into the next room and find a conveniently placed lighter that would trigger both his demise and a lot of bad CGI.  For shame, Scream 3.  For shame.  If Scream 4 has a gas explosion that's this contrived, I'll be an angry angry Mike.
The Killer:
Let's be honest, 97% of the appeal of these movies is made or broken when the killer's revealed.  And this time out, the reveal is about as interesting as the dinner menu at Denny's.  Plus it does that whole "retcon" thing that comics do, which I HATE in sequels.  I hate it hard.  I still hate the ending of Terminator 2 for trying to convince me that Arnold never existed, so how do you think I feel about this one peeing all over the killers from Scream?  Yep, I am not in favor of it.  That's right.  Good job, reader!

The Final Thoughts:
When Scream 3 is looked at as a horror movie, it's bad.  When it's looked at as a follow up to the first two Scream films, it's a travesty.  Gone are the smart references and the dark and interesting open spaces, instead we get Dimension Films' leftover props and far too much cynicism about the movies that were looked upon as holy texts in the first two films.  This should have killed the series, and I surely hope the next installment doesn't stoop as low as this one does.

And that it gives me some real RED RIGHT HAND!


Fred [The Wolf] said...

Ha! Great post as usual, The Mike! I think I'm one of the few who actually prefers this one than SCREAM 2. SCREAM 2, from what I remember and I will be rewatching that one and 3 this week, bored me to tears. And killing off the best main character was garbage. At least SCREAM 3 seemed to be having a bit of fun with the story. While it is leftovers, it didn't feel dull to me. Plus I actually liked Parker Posey in this film. I usually don't dig her, but she actually gave the film some life. That being said, I hope SCREAM 4 is better than both 2 and 3, even if it is by a little bit. I've been hearing some decent-to-good things about it, so maybe there's life in this franchise yet.

Enbrethiliel said...


Nice review! You're not bad in sleep mode. =P

One quibble, if I may?

I actually really like Scream 3 (a psychological effect of going into it telling myself I wouldn't?) and your review doesn't touch my favourite aspect of the film, which is the portrayal of Hollywood as the ultimate Horror setting. Yes, we have the metacinematic gags, courtesy of the actors playing actors (who, yeah, were camping it up too much even for me), and the self-referential cameo (which I totally loved); but I think this movie goes the distance and turns the (two-way) mirror on itself for a change.

The first movie seemed to absolve Hollywood with its message that "Scary movies don't create psychos; scary movies make psychos more creative"--and while the second movie pushed the envelope with a murder in a crowded movie theatre and the killer actually blaming the movies, the audience doesn't really buy that argument that Horror movies are to blame for the actions of disturbed individuals. But Scream 3 offers the ultimate sed contra: a villain for whom Hollywood must take some responsibility.

deadlydolls said...

I like the idea of Scream 3 and how it dug into Hollywood, but my issues comes with SPOILER ALERT the utter goofiness of most of it and the fact that none of the main characters die.

See, in Scream, you could tell Dewey survived due to sad test audiences. Fine. In part 2 (which I ADORE), they made up for it by killing Randy. Part 3 presents itself as 'the final chapter,' where NO ONE is safe. And then everyone is. It just feels like such a wimp-out.

I will agree with you on Emily Mortimer though. I have a slight girl crush on her and just think she's a brilliant and fascinating little actress.

Enbrethiliel said...


You guys have a point about all the main characters surviving to the end making everything a bit ridiculous. I myself have referred to Gail and Dewey as "the Timon and Pumbaa of the Scream franchise"! =P

The Mike said...

Good points all. This one's probably not as bad as my wrap up made it sound, it just bugs me by feeling so off from the first two.

I like the idea of Hollywood hosting the horror, but I just never really bought it because it felt so forced. I wanted more of the on-set stuff less of the "look at us, we're ACTORS!" stuff.

The main characters never dying stuff didn't bother me too much, because a) the first two movies established Dewey was invincible, and b) Gale needs to exist as the anti-Sid. I always wanted one of the sequels to end with Sid as the killer (still do), but no way Craven goes there with his love for his final gals.

I'm watching 2 now as I move on with Scream Week, and I've always been a fan of it. Saw it on opening weekend, and thought it was a great follow up. More on that later...

Enbrethiliel said...


It's kind of funny to think that Dewey is invincible . . . but he is, isn't he? LOL!

I've always thought that the relatively poor quality of Scream 3 was due to having another writer tackle the screenplay. Or was it also a Kevin Williamson script?