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Scream 3

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Scream 3

Starring: David Arquette, Courtney Cox
Director: Wes Craven
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: February 2000
Genre: Horror

Review by Greg King
3 stars out of 4

The problem with most long running horror series is that they inevitably have a habit of outstaying their welcome. Friday The 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare On Elm Street, etc, quickly deteriorated once they started producing increasingly ludicrous sequels that moved further and further away from the original in both flavour and intent. On the other hand, true movie trilogies seem to fare better. Star Wars, the Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan series, and, to a lesser extent, The Godfather saga maintained the integrity and standards of the original.

Similarly, Scream 3, the third instalment in this popular horror series that revitalised the teen slasher genre, sticks to its established formula. Despite the familiarity of the plotting and a singular lack of originality, though, Scream 3 will not disappoint fans. Scream 3 is set in Hollywood, where a studio, fascinated by the gruesome Woodsboro slayings, is filming Stab 3, a sequel that continues the film-within-a-film that opened Scream 2. But this triggers off a new killing spree in which the familiar masked psycho begins killing off the cast in the order that their characters die in the movie. The recent low budget Australian teen slasher film Cut shares a few superficial similarities and may have stolen some of its thunder, but Scream 3 is still a vastly superior film.

The brutal murders reunite tenacious reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox Arquette) and Dewie Riley (David Arquette), who is working as a technical advisor on the movie. The key to the killings again seems to be feisty Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who has disappeared into seclusion and now works as a telephone counsellor from the anonymity of her safe house. In probing the new series of murders, the three raise disturbing questions about the past and the real identity of the Woodsboro killer, long thought to have been killed.

While the regular stars merely go through the motions, Scream 3 introduces us to some new protagonists, who become victims or suspects. Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) is a handsome, film literate homicide detective, the perfect man to help investigate a series of murders surrounding a movie set, or so one would assume. And indie queen Parker Posey is an absolute delight as Jennifer Jolie, the actress portraying Gale on screen, who throws herself into the role of playing real life investigative reporter with annoying gusto.

Scream 3 has not suffered greatly with the departure of original writer Kevin Williamson, as it manages to retain much of the same flavour. The film supposedly plays around with the conventions of film sequels, and also adds a new dimension to the film-within-a-film concept. Scream 3 also manages to generate some suspense as to which of our three heroes may not survive. However, the writing is not as sharp and there is a greater emphasis on gore here. Scream 3 also abounds with clever red herrings and artful misdirection, as well as some spectacular and bloody deaths.

Ehren Kruger (who wrote the superb paranoid conspiracy thriller Arlington Road) ups the body count, but still manages to punctuate the grisly slayings with lashings of humour, dubious film lore and heaps of sly in-jokes. Cameo appearances by famed '60's director and producer Roger Corman, Silent Bob and Jay (aka Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes) and Carrie Fisher add to the irreverent flavour of the whole thing.

Veteran director Wes Craven knows the rhythms and pacing of the horror genre, and he directs this familiar material with assurance, deftly punctuating the gore with judiciously timed shocks and laughs. Hopefully, though, Craven et al will now quit the Scream series while they are still ahead.

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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