This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
It’s time to look at the third installment in the Scream series. The characters are back once again and this time they are going to have to deal with another murderer. Sidney really can’t catch a break. The last film really ended with things basically going to rock bottom for her since all of her friends are dead once again. Well, she’ll have to prepare for more losses in this movie but at least it’s slightly less personal for her since it’s not like she even knows any of these guys this time.
Sidney made the logical choice of deciding to live in the outskirts of the world by herself now. She has a huge chunk of land with many different security systems both outside and in the house. She even has a guard dog. Nobody knows where she lives and that’s exactly the way that she wants to keep it. Unfortunately she does see on TV that people relating to the Stab movie series are being murdered one by one. Those movies are based off of her real life experiences from the first two films so she realizes that someone has once again started the murder games. She isn’t sure how to proceed or if she should get involved. The choice is taken out of her hands when she receives a call from the murderer though. He is after her once again but this time she has a gun at the ready.
Sidney’s gone from being your average school girl to Alice from Resident Evil. At this point she is no stranger to dealing with lunatics and it really shows. Her character is amazing in this film as she takes everything in stride and jumps into danger. She refuses to let the villains intimidate her and at this point the only thing that scares her is the ghost of her mother. Sidney does have some PTSD and considering her experiences it’s a wonder that she’s coped with it so well. Sidney’s even got a job listening to everyone else’s troubles which sounds tough. After this film it’s safe to say that she’s the second best horror protagonist I’ve seen besides Alice. It’ll be tough for anyone else to pass her and if you have any doubts just watch the climax. She really came prepared for a fight and can actually punch quite well. We saw her throw a punch in the first film and there’s always been some foreshadowing for it. It’s just nice to see her really go all out here.
I have to give the film major props for one thing that it did not do. I don’t know if this was also a parody but if it was then it’s really clever. As I mentioned Sidney has a dog here and that’s an instant death flag not just for the dog but for the movie. It’s a trope that in pretty much every horror film an animal has to die. Well, this one managed to avoid the temptation and the dog was actually a red herring. He never got to appear again until the ending and I’m fine with that. Actually, I’m thrilled about it! Scream 3 was my favorite of the 3 films even if only by a little and having a dog die would have thrown it down into last place.
There is one really random scene here though where a character I don’t remember ever seeing before shows up to deliver a tape of the guy who died in the second film. He points out that in trilogies anything can happen so he warns the characters so they don’t get murdered. It’s nice that he wanted to give some advice and the scene is so surreal that it’s actually pretty funny. Still, most of his advice is stuff that doesn’t tangibly help the characters. “None of you are safe” sounds like great advice but they all already knew they were targets so if anything it just scares them more than they already were. I’m sure they appreciated the help either way though.
Since Sidney doesn’t get involved til later on in the film you could almost say that Dewey and Gale were the main characters here. Naturally they get to bicker in their opening confrontation once again. I dare say that this was their best meeting of the 3 films as they each get a lot of burns and you have the great music in the background as always. I really think they shouldn’t get back together at this point because their dynamic works so well as rivals. We also get a third addition to the mix as the actress playing Gale steps in as well. She’s gotten so far into the role that she has her own Gale persona at this point and uses it quite a lot.
You should not get attached to too many of the characters though because standard horror rules apply. Unless you are from one of the first two films you probably shouldn’t count on surviving in this one. If you just had a cameo in the first film then you should watch out as well like poor Cotton. He’s the opening stinger this time and it is a bold opening since you may have suspected that he would be safe. At the same time he never had the same kind of plot shield as Sidney, Gale, or Dewey would have had. The opening scene is definitely tragic for him, but at least he does put up a fight. It was just not a battle that he was going to win.
So Dewey and Gale aren’t bad. Gale is starting to feel a little old for the chase scenes and investigating, but she’s still jumping into danger at every turn. At the very least you have to admire the fact that she never gives up. Dewey’s also getting old as you can see with how often he gets beaten up every time. At least he tries though. One of the new characters is Officer Kincaid. He’s a detective who wants to crack this case. He talks really tough but somehow you just never feel like he’s going to stand much of a chance. I suppose it’s up to him to prove you wrong.
I do have one big gripe with this film though. How come none of the characters seem to remember what a voice changer was? It’s treated like a huge twist at the end of the film that such a thing exists, but the villains have been using it since the first film. Every film has a voice changer and with the Stab films that exist here I presume that the villains used it in those to. It should have been their first clue when they start hearing voices or when Sidney says that she knows her mother spoke to her. Somehow nobody even acknowledges this as a possibility and it just felt very odd. It’s either a huge plot hole or it’s part of the parody element. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s being parodied and what isn’t anymore. Still, it felt a bit off.
As always the film is pretty violent though. I feel like the deaths weren’t quite as gruesome as the first two though. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s less bloody than the first two but characters are mainly getting stabbed this time and not going through painfully long deaths. Not like it makes a huge difference after a point though. It’s still very over the top and you’d expect nothing less from a slasher.
The soundtrack is about on par with the second film. It’s still way above average for a horror film, but not quite ready to take on the first movie. The suit has still aged pretty well though and the effects are on point. The fight at the end of the film is the best fight in the series and it all works as a solid tribute to the first film. I imagine a lot of this movie felt pretty nostalgic for long time viewers who grew up with the original two.
Scream 3 definitely has the most fun with its parody elements in the final climax though. From the “Let’s split up” every 5 minutes to characters slowly opening doors and getting stabbed it just feels like they choose a lot of the wrong answers. The scene with Dewey getting hit by a boomerang gun couldn’t have been meant to be taken seriously. As I mentioned he does appear to get weaker each time. The characters also need to stop aiming for the chest against every villain especially when it doesn’t seem to be working. I think after someone’s already murdered tons of people you can go for the head shot, but if not then at least take out a leg or an arm. It’s a tougher shot but you can just start spamming at this point until you run out of bullets.
A film like this never truly has a happy ending for the characters when you consider how much they’ve lost. Still, it is a happier ending than the last film for Sidney. This time she still has her dog, a safe place to stay, and even some friends in Dewey and Gale. She’s also conquered her demons at last. If not for the fourth film you’d expect this to really be the ideal ending for her. The other characters also got reasonable endings here. The film does offer up what could be interpreted as a trick ending to close things out though. In this case I don’t really think anyone is actually there, but I do think it’s crazy that Sidney left the security system off and the door open though. That would almost throw all of her character development out the window in a single scene….is what you would think at first thought.
I’d say that it’s more showing how Sidney is now resolved for whatever comes her way next. She’s through with running away. From now on she is taking on all challengers and welcomes any crazy who wants to attack her. This is a little overconfident and it’s not smart, but at this point Sidney’s just so fed up with the world that it’s the way she wants it. That’s how I interpreted the scene at the very least and it’s the closest Scream has had to a true cliffhanger ending. Surprisingly the films never really have that final jump scare.
Overall, Scream 3 is the best film in the series up to this point. I have not watched the fourth film and it could be a while before I see it so I don’t know how that one will stack up. As always if you like the Scream series or slashers in general then you’ll definitely get a kick out of this. It’s just executed considerably better than other films of this nature. As I mentioned above it still has the usual elements that hold it back like the excessive violence and the knowledge that all of the characters are doomed from the start so those scenes just feel drawn out. One example is Ghostface chasing down all the actors in the house and bumping them off one by one. Even as they run away you know they’re doomed anyway so it’s more mean spirited than anything. It’ll never be able to reach the average action film, but in the world of horror this movie’s not so bad. One of these days we really need a big horror crossover film so Ghostface can test his luck with the other horror icons. I don’t imagine he’d get so far though, he’d probably end up getting stabbed.