Combustible Celluloid
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With: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox-Arquette, Patrick Dempsey, Parker Posey, Scott Foley, Emily Mortimer, Lance Henriksen, Jenny McCarthy, Patrick Warburton, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Kennedy, Heather Matarazzo, Carrie Fisher, Roger Corman, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes
Written by: Ehren Kruger, based on characters by Kevin Williamson
Directed by: Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence and language
Running Time: 116
Date: 02/03/2000

Scream 3 (2000)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Slash and Trash

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

They say that Scream 3 ends the trilogy. Of course, this doesn't take into account such anomalies as Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), which was really only part 4 in the 8-part series. Or Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), which was followed by one more A Nightmare on Elm Street movie. It's possible that the box-office grosses for Scream 3 will stir the creative minds behind the franchise to come up with a Scream 4. And, if the characters in Scream 3 were still as smart as they once were, they would know all about this.

But, in the meantime, we have a middle-of-the-road movie with Scream 3. I'm a big fan of the first two movies Scream (1996) and Scream 2 (1997), both written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. Craven returns for Scream 3 after a hiatus directing his first "straight" drama, Music of the Heart, which was a godawful mess. Williamson is gone, taking only "executive producer" and "created by" credits. The new writer is the hot young Ehren Kruger (no relation to Freddy) who also wrote last year's Arlington Road and the upcoming Reindeer Games. The result is that the new movie strays pretty far from the original idea -- that the Scream characters are horror-movie savvy. These characters get into all the same dumb situations that other horror movie characters get into. They wander into dark and deserted places alone, they split up, and if the killer is shot and down they look away long enough for him to disappear again.

Craven is still in top form. His skills in the horror genre are as razor sharp as ever. Among Craven's gifts is using out-of-focus movement in the back of the frame to instill fear. (Did we really just see that?) He also makes an entire space or a room feel dangerous -- that something horrible could be hiding literally anywhere.

The new movie follows the production of Stab 3, a sequel to the successful Stab movies that were based on the events of Scream. Sidney (Neve Campbell), Dewey (David Arquette), and Gale (Courteney Cox-Arquette) and Cotton (Liev Schreiber) are still on hand, plus new actors who play older characters in the new fictional sequel, like Parker Posey and Jenny McCarthy and Lance Henriksen, who plays a sleazy horror film producer. Roger Corman, Carrie Fisher, and "Jay" and "Silent Bob" from Kevin Smith's movies also appear in funny cameos. These scenes and a few other twists harken back to the glory days of Scream 1 and 2. But, for the most part, Scream 3 is a standard slasher flick.

The Scream movies are ordinarily so much more clever than most horror movies, especially their second cousins, the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies. Scream 3 falls somewhere inbetween. It doesn't quite live up to its predecessors, but fans of the first two will want to see it anyway.

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