This is the turning point/shot in the arm for Scream 3, which takes awhile to remind me of the cleverness of the first film. At that point, this does become fun, though it doesn’t reach the wit or the emotional involvement (really) of the other Scream films.
As Scream 3 opens, the Woodsboro murders have inspired the movie series Stab; Stab 2 is in theaters, and Stab 3’s in production, when Stab 3 cast members start to die. Once again forced together are Dewey Riley (the always fun David Arquette), who’s advising the filmmakers; ambitious reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox Arquette), who investigates the new deaths; and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the focus of the original murders, living in seclusion and working from home as a crisis counselor.
As Part Last of a trilogy, Scream 3 intentionally puts a spin on the first two films by providing the real motivation for the very first murders. It’s an interesting plot idea – it has to do with a time in the early ’70s when Sid’s mother Maureen left Woodsboro – but the final revelation of who’s really behind all of this lacks a vital punch, an “Oh my God” level of recognition, that the idea demanded.
I think the biggest reason for this lack of impact is the new cast: the actors generally aren’t distinctive enough, save for Parker Posey as a nervous, breathless starlet playing Gail Weathers in Stab 3 or Patrick Warburton (Puddy from Seinfeld) as a security guard.
I also could have done without a dream sequence – it disrupts the film’s reality to little effect – and the deaths this time don’t really thrill or hurt, the way it hurt when Casey (Drew Barrymore) tried in vain to yell “Mom” as she died in Scream.
But what gave me a kick from the other Scream films are still here: the movie references, the fun cameos (especially who Cox and Posey meet in a studio archive), the well-done ways of making almost everyone a suspect – which spawned many rumors, few correct – and the consistent look of all three films.
And I’ve always liked that Scream is, in part, about the limits of using films as a way of understanding life (the characters’ frame of reference comes almost entirely from movies). If you’ve seen it all at the movies, the Scream films say to me, you haven’t really seen it all.