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Scream 3
2000 - R - 122 Mins.
Director: Wes Craven
Producer: Cathy Konrad, Kevin Williamson, Marianne Maddalena
Written By: Ehren Kruger , Laeta Kalogridis
Starring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox Arquette, Patrick Warburton, Lance Henriksen. Special appearance by Jamie Kennedy.
Review by: John Ulmer
   
A character in "Scream 3" tells us about half way through the movie, "the rules" of sequels and trilogies. If it's a sequel, the main character will not die. If it's a trilogy, anyone can die. Trilogies revisit the past. Sequels are a continuation. If that is true, then we can expect a "Scream 4."

I have not seen the first two "Scream" movies, so I'll try to fill you in as best I can. Following the incidents in the second film, Sidney (Neve Campbell) has retreated to a confined area, and shut herself off from a social life, in hopes of avoiding any homicidal maniacs who may happen to try and kill her again. Meanwhile, Dewey (David Arquette) is a technical advisor for the new "Stab 3" film, based on the "real" events at Woodsboro. Gail (Courtney Cox Arquette, David' wife) is a publicist who works as a reporter. She got fired from "60 Minutes II" (did Charles Grodin take over for her?) and she now tries to desperately milk the Woodsboro incident by writing a novel about what happened.

On the set of "Stab 3," cast members start dying in the order that they die in the script. There are three different versions of the film script, and they admit they do not know which script the killer read, which means they also don't know which character dies next, as each version of the script has characters die in different order. Every time a cast member dies, a photo of Sidney's mother is left behind. The head of the production company releasing the film (Lance Henriksen) decides to close down the film in hopes of stopping the killer. Unfortunately, the masked killer is now stalking Sidney, who, with the help of Gail and Dewey, and a few cast members from "Stab 3," tries to reveal the killer's true identity once and for all.

The best moments in "Scream 3" come at times when the film slips into self-parody. I like the idea of "Stab 3," I like the idea of the cast members from the film teaming up with the "real" people they portray on-screen to hunt down the killer, I like when Randy (Jamie Kennedy) makes a cameo appearance on a video recording, telling the characters all the "rules" of horror films. These are the moments when the film really is self-aware, is really snappy and smart, and really has fun playing with the audience. I was willing to give this a full recommendation until the last ten minutes of the film when, as always, the killer whips off the mask and explains his/her motive and what exactly he/she is going to do to the hero(ine). Don't they ever learn?

If they must slip into pure horror once and a while, I was intrigued by the idea that the killer may have read one of three versions of the script, and that they must race against time to figure out who's the next victim. This would have been fun but other than a cop mentioning this idea once, the notion is not explored any further.

One scene had me laughing. There's a bunch of people running around like idiots inside a killer-infested house. The killer is sending faxes, and one character runs back into the house to read the fax. He can't see because the electricity is out, so he rushes into the kitchen, grabs a lighter off the counter, and flicks it on. He reads the paper. It says, "The one who smells the gas will be spared." Immediately the house blows up. Now answer me this: How did the killer just happen to know that the victim would run into the kitchen and grab a lighter? And why, oh why, does the killer go through elaborate actions just to kill off his victims in neat ways? Wouldn't it be easy just to...well...kill them? How can the killer always be around the corner, always be unattainable, always be just a step ahead? Why must films like "Scream 3" slip into mediocrity towards the end? Answer me that and you get a dollar. Not really. But I dare you to answer that.

"Scream 3" has some intriguing ideas, and when it uses them it succeeds on almost all levels. But when it resorts to typicalities you feel betrayed. There's some real ingenuity in this film, it just needs to be unleashed.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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